VAN HALEN, NOT VAN HAGAR
Show Date: April 26, 2008
Location: St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.
Venue: Scottrade Centerclub
Reviewer: Graham LaMontagne
Band Website: www.van-halen.com
Where have all the good time’s gone? The answer: St Louis.
The next best thing to a Led Zeppelin reunion is of course a Van Halen reunion, with the original lineup, and 22 years in the making it was completely worth the wait.
Actually the wait for the St. Louis crowd was 23 years since the original concert date was in late October 2007, then postponed to March 31, 2008 and again rescheduled and finally carried out on April 26th.
Given the tumultuous relationship that is Van Halen, I thought after the second cancellation that my dream of seeing the real Van Halen live, not ‘Van Hagar’, was official dead in the water. However, the Scottrade Center went pitch black promptly at 8:30pm and Eddie Van Halen‘s signature sound could be heard in the dark and a calm washed over me knowing that there would be nothing stopping me from witnessing the Van Halen legacy.
David Lee Roth appeared in an outfit that looked like James Dean, Viva Las Vegas era Elvis and Andrew Dice Clay had a ‘manage et trois’, but in typical Diamond Dave fashion, he was able to actually look cool in such a flamboyant costume.
Opening with “You Really Got Me” was really a metaphor for the show because Van Halen truly did keep us going all night. With the crowd already going nuts after that one song, Diamond Dave announced in a voice I will never forget, probably because it sounded like a nasally male Fran Drescher, “Better late than neverrrrrr!!” All was officially forgiven for Van Halen‘s tardiness.
Van Halen is BACK, and all those that are still sore over Michael Anthony‘s replacement, Wolfgang Van Halen, should really get over their brooding because father and son and Uncle Alex are really quite fun to watch as family. Father and son played back to back, Eddie messed up his son’s hair, Wolfie hugged his pop and Alex laid down a ferocious and dedicated backing sound that his nephew and brother continually applauded. Only Diamond Dave shares no Van Halen lineage, but he certainly seemed like a brother to Eddie the way they were getting along onstage.
As Van Halen tore through their amazing setlist (all Dave era), Roth executed his signature kung fu kicks and comical stage presence proving that he is still the quintessential front man. No front man has ever encompassed such an entertaining stage presence like Diamond Dave. And of course Eddie is still a ‘Guitar God’ continuing to prove few, if any, can keep up with his style of playing.
The reunited Van Halen all seemed to be having such a fun time performing together it forced me to contemplate, “Why on earth didn’t you do this sooner?” Let’s face it; the original Van Halen is the one we all want on the road. The difference between Van Halen and ‘Van Hagar’ is that Van Halen is a dirty rock and roll party band with unbelievably rocking tunes. ‘Van Hagar’ on the other hand, borders on soft rock that can be played in the background at the dentist when you are having a cavity filled. And those timeless Van Halen classics were perfectly performed Saturday night and kept my head banging so hard that my neck still hurts two days later.
The highlights of the show were “Jamie’s Cryin'”, “Everybody Want’s Some”, “Hot For Teacher”, “Beautiful Girls”, “Little Dreamer”, “Ice Cream Man”, “Runnin’ With The Devil”, “Unchained” and “I’ll Wait”.
If I was forced to make any negative comments it would be not hearing “Feel Your Love Tonight” or “Drop Dead Legs”, and the $150 ticket price, which is the most I have ever paid for a single ticket. However, the two hour show was certainly worth the price given the commitment the band delivered to their admiring fans.
I keep telling myself Hell has officially frozen over because I saw Dave and the Van Halens onstage harmoniously. The future looks bright for this band of rocking egos.