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Van Halen at the American Airlines Center in Dallas (June 20)

The stage was big for just four guys, but it was just the right size for their egos

Jessica Harp |

Photo by Steve Lee.

Nostalgia lingered in the air as fans flocked to the American Airlines Center on Wednesday night to see Van Halen perform new tunes from the band’s first album with singer David Lee Roth since the 1984 record – a sight some never believed would happen again.

The band’s troubled track record of dropping lead singers at the first sign of strain had some worried that the show might not go on, especially when lead singer David Lee Roth released a video announcing that the band would be canceling more than 30 tour dates after their June 26 stop in New Orleans in order to prevent the reunion tour from becoming a “robot zombie tour.” But the Dallas show went on flawlessly. If there was any cracking in the foundation, Van Halen didn’t show it.

Long-time fans showed off their Van Halen tour shirts old and new, displaying them like trophies. Unlike the band’s concerts in the ’80s and early ’90s, this one was a family show – though there were moments when Roth got a little raunchy, as was expected. It wouldn’t be a Van Halen show if Diamond Dave wasn’t up to his usual dirty, camera mugging antics.

Kool and the Gang got eager fans ready to dance the night away, playing hits like “Jungle Boogie,” “Hollywood,” “Ladies Night,” and “Celebration.” The well-oiled funk machine has plenty years of experience and had no problem getting the audience moving. Although only two original members remain in the band, their performance helped keep the nostalgia alive.

Fans didn’t seem to mind that only three of the four founding members of Van Halen were present. In fact, they appeared downright giddy that the band had made it this far without sacking Roth once again. Guitar god Eddie Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang, continued his tenure as the band’s bassist, receiving an education in music from his father and uncle, drummer Alex Van Halen, that made every fan envious. The guys, minus Wolfie, are getting older, so the tour was definitely subdued compared to the ones from their youth. No flying around the stage, no rotating or suspended drum kits. Just four guys rocking out.

At 57 years old, Roth can spin the mic stand and high kick better (we’re guessing) than some high school girls. Dressed in a black shirt, black vest, and black reptile skin crotch-hugging pants lined with sequins, Roth went all-out. Most of his jokes fell flat, and his random soliloquies were on the boring side, but he certainly still has it when he’s playing music. He even stated that he was feeling “exceptionally healthy” at the show – a possible jab to the brothers Van Halen for canceling the rest of the tour.

The stage was big for just four guys, but it was just the right size for their egos, especially Roth’s. The band went through hit after hit, and played several tracks from their new album, A Different Kind of Truth. Then Alex and Eddie gave the fans what they really came for: face melting drum and guitar solos that only rock legends can deliver. Backed by a stack of 5150 amps, Eddie’s own design, the men of Van Halen played loud and proud, and we left satisfied.