I was never a fan of the original band, being that at the time I was (and still am to a point) a music snob and thought they were just a party band.
Over the years I've grown to appreciate the great songs and unique sound they had and I was always impressed that they never played any of those hits once Sammy joined the band, so I was interested to see what they would be like together again.
The vibe in the parking lot felt like 1979 again. People were partying hard and Van Halen music was BLASTING from every third car. As I walked past a group waiting at the porta-johns one guy (with a mullet, of course) was regaling the others with a story about "One time Eddie came down to the hotel bar and he was SOOO COOOOL, MAN!" And everyone said, "WOW MAN, RIGHT ON!!" These people were true fans.
Once inside the vibe was high energy/high expectation, with smoke in the air, again feeling like a concert from an earlier age. There were two remote controled mini blimps cruising around the room that were very cool, then the lights went down and the roar went up!
Because I was never a fan I didn't really care that much about Eddie's 16 yr. old son Wolf playing bass; I figured as long as he can play who cares, plus the name of the band is Van Halen and he's a Van Halen so whatever.
But right from the first song he just wasn't working for me. It wasn't that he was bad, he played the parts without mistake, but he was just a kid playing in a legendary band, and he looked and sounded like one. I immediately began thinking how much better they would sound if they had a top PROFESSIONAL in the band instead of a high school kid. It was really noticable and distracting to me all night.
The second problem was that Eddie himself was sloppy and flubbing parts all night long. I have never been a fan of his, always feeling that he was a brilliant technician who had developed a great sound with a bunch of amazing tricks, but this was beyond just a lack of feel in his solos; he was making mistakes. At first I thought it was just me, but my friend who is a fan noticed it too. He had seen the show earlier in Sacramento & San Jose and said he thought Eddie was better at those shows, so maybe he was just tripping that his ex-wife Valerie what's-her-name, the mother of little Wolfie, was in the house that night. Whatever, his playing was often bad and he seemed wasted to me, and also to my friend. Lame IMO.
Lastly on the down side we have Diamond Dave. This guy is a legendary piece of work for sure. I must admit that it was surprising how good he looked physically and how his voice was able to still sing the songs; it was clear that he prepared himself for this reunion, which makes sense as this has to be his last chance to get back on the big stages.
Unfortunately the guy is simply a king of clowns. His idiotic smile and his ridiculous costumes & poses are just hard for me to take. Plus, it seemed like he was alone on stage, even when he would stand next to Eddie or the kid. As always with DLR it was ALL about him.
IMO the only member of the band that was fully together was Alex, who was everything anyone could want from a heavy rock drummer. The guy plays FAT and heavy with ease. I kept thinking that THIS is the guy Led Zeppelin should have hired (another example of a classic band letting family relations get in the way of having the BEST player available).
As for the songs, they were all there, and many were very good, but none of them really sounded fresh or vibrant; to me the whole thing was just a chance for fans to get together with their heroes once again and remember when.
I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I just didn't think on this night I was watching a BAND; it seemed like I was watching a group of individuals playing songs to remember the old days. Yet the crowd of true fans, many with their sons & daughters, were on their feet all night and loving every minute of it.
Ultimately I think for the true fans it's probably a good show, and if they do get Michael Anthony back into the fold for the 2nd round of the tour the whole thing could hit a higher level, but for me it was just an exhibition of songs being played by a couple of brothers, a freak and a high school kid.... not a band.
And for the love of God, would SOMEBODY hit David Lee Roth with a pie in the face!!!
Good review Lance but sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it. Aside from some of the flubs you mentioned, I had a blast. This is the one reunion I was waiting for and I got just what I expected, a loud in your face rock'n roll show. Too bad I didn't see you. Would have loved to buy you a few of those overpriced beer. Once again sorry you didn't enjoy it. I hope you didn't pay too much. Me and 2 friends scored upper deck behind the stage seats for $25 a piece but never went there. Managed to find a nice spot a few rows up from the floor on stage right. Great view of Dave and all his antics.
Oh well, maybe next time. You joining us for Jackie Greene on friday (12/28) at the Great American Music Hall? Email me if you do. I have some things for you.
Because I went into the show without high expectations and I was hanging with a buddy & enjoying watching the crowd I did have a good time. I was just a little surprised that the band wasn't more cohesive, although given the long, bizarre history of these guys maybe I shouldn't have been.
I was also surprised at Eddie's playing and at how weak overall I thought his son was, but the songs are really fun rock classics and I enjoyed hearing them live for the first time.
It would have been cool to see you but I wouldn't have been able to enjoy those beers; I'm on blood thinning drugs these days, so no (very little) alcohol for me. What a buzz-kill!
I won't be seeing Jackie on the 28th, I'll be ROCKING with X at Slim's that night, but I will be at the Fillmore tomorrow to see my boy Hank III (a FORCE OF NATURE!) along with Nashville Pussy and Rev. Horton Heat. Any chance you'll be there?
Hope you had a good Christmas!
Hank 3, Nashville P, and The Rev. HH - man, that's a solid bill! Enjoy...
I`d prefer to see Sammy`s band then Val Halen
Where's the Hank III review?