August 26, 2012

Van Halen Redux Review

Back in June, I accompanied Mr. Harper to a Van Halen concert.  Mr. H loves all things Van Halen/Hagar, and, in my opinion, this was the very last time to see David Lee Roth fronting the group.  Sure, sure, it still wasn't quite the original band, with Wolfgang Van Halen filling in on bass for Michael Anthony (who stuck with Sammy after the split).  Wolfie has lost some weight, grown up a little, but has no stage presence whatsoever.  Eddie has put on some weight (could be meds) but can still shred like no other.  Alex was there, banging away.

The ink wasn't quite dry on the tickets when Van Halen announced that they would be 'postponing' the tour after their June 26th date in New Orleans.  The Dallas show was June 23rd.  (By the first week of July, the postponed dates turned to full fledged cancellations).  I don't think they will ever grace the stage again.  They don't get along.  DLR has a monster ego, EVH has recurring cancer and their core demographic wants to see the young band they remember on stage, not the AARP set.  There might be some younger folks that like their music, but they can't afford the ticket or merch prices. 

I saw VH at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, at the Cotton Bowl for the Texas Jam, and at Reunion Arena in Dallas, in days gone by.  Some changes jumped out at me while attending this concert.  There were chairs on every row of the floor, and people actually sat in them for the whole concert.  The pot was being smoked in the bathrooms and the cigarettes were being smoked in the designated outdoor areas only.  90% of the men in the room were sporting khaki shorts - a wardrobe item that I would guess none of them owned when they bought their first VH album. 

As they were setting the stage after Kool & the Gang (awesome set, BTW), we watched a stage hand sprinkle a white substance from a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, onto the center stage area.  We joked that, since that is where DLR would be, that it must be cocaine.  It turned out to be dance floor slick 'em up stuff to aid in, what used to be, DLR's trademark slides, spins and roundhouse kicks.  He can't manage them anymore without the slippery surface and a mic stand to steady himself. 

Here is the set list, in order:
Runnin' with the Devil
She's the Woman
Romeo Delight
Everybody Wants Some
Somebody Get Me A Doctor
China Town
Hear About It Later
Pretty Woman
You Really Got Me
The Trouble With Never
Dance the Night Away
I'll Wait
And the Cradle Will Rock
Hot for Teacher
Women In Love
Beautiful Girls
Ice Cream Man
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
Jump (encore)
I had made a bet with Mr. H that they wouldn't sing a single Van Hagar song, and I was right.  I do prefer the DLR years, but it isn't good business to tour as a band and ignore 10 years worth of music that included 4 multi-platinum albums.

My first impression of DLR as he took the stage, was that he had worn the same Spandex pants on the 'Hide Your Sheep' tour in 1982.  During the show we were treated to a lengthily video presentation of Dave's sheep dog training abilities, his command of gutter Spanish and stories about being 'hot and naked' back in the glory days. My final impression, as DLR donned a sailor hat and ran across the stage waving a checkered flag as confetti cannons fired, was that 'Hide Your Sheep' would be an appropriate tour title, again, albeit for different reasons.

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