In 1984 due to a betrayal that put ho's before bros, I thought I had missed my last chance to see the one, the only Van Fucking Halen in concert. The other night I got the opportunity to redeem the dream.
First acknowledgments and thanks:
Thanks to my friend Kevin who turned me on to VH and apologies that I didn't go to see them with him the first time he had asked me a couple of weeks or so back. What was I thinking? Thanks to my friend Jon who scored the tickets to the Madison Square Garden show. I'm actually afraid to introduce the two of them because they may try to out "Halen" fan one another.
So no complaints on the show but here's the whole story.
In 1983/4 I had the
chance to see the Van Halen in their original manifestation but my Rock and Roll experience was stolen from me. Someone had a ticket with my name on it. That same someone put me in the
back seat for of all things a CHICK! I'm 14 at the time so it's not that I'm not into girls but COME ON! It's like Van Fucking Halen! Dude!
OK OK I'll catch them the next time I figure - right?
It was the keyboards on the album 1984. That was the death-knell of a great rock franchise. Jump, and I'll Wait are fucking awesome songs that fit the classic Van Halen format (intro the song, give David Lee Roth space to throw just left of clever innuendo lyrics at you, break it down, build it up, scathing guitar solo, end!) but Rolands and Yamahas aren't Marshalls and Les Pauls**. After I missed VH that one time, they fucking broke up due to personal differences - I still, to this day, blame the keyboards. Keyboards are for fucking Journey fans.
So for the next 20 or so years we suffer the VH of uber douchebag Sammy Hagar (aak!) and then Gary Cherone from freaking wimp-rock band Extreme AAAAGGHH! And David Lee Roth's solo efforts as well as his collaborations with guitar and bass maestros Steve Vai and Billy Sheehan if technically amazing, WERE NOT VH!
In my opinion David Lee Roth is hands down the greatest front-man
in Rock and Roll history! You got your Robert Plant and Freddy
Mercury - power and sex appeal sure. And you got your Mick Jagger and
Steve Tyler who add soul, rhythm & blues and swing to the mix and then there's your metal gods like Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, and Ozzy Osbourne who, though sometimes silly, are still awesome
in that skull and dagger, skulls and demons kind of way. David Lee
Roth has given and/or taken a bit from all of these guys, but there's one major
difference. In every performance and recording Dave infuses something
that Rock and Roll really STILL needs, that all of the above artists leave out more often than not! A FUCKING SENSE OF HUMOR!!! Dave's got hot
tongues in flushed bulging cheeks. He pokes freaking fun at the whole
Rock process! He's like the freaking Joker of rock! Unpredictable and quick with wise cracks about low topics.
Diamond Dave does have one thing undeniably in common with some of the above rockers though...
Mick needs Keith
Steven needs Joe
Robert needs Jimmy
Freddy (RIP) had Brian
Ozzy had Randy (RIP) and now has Zakk
Dave needs Eddy at his side. Eddy Van Halen is an outright musical genius who invented a whole new style of playing but his guitar never shined as bright as when it was combined with Roth's vocals. It's like Chocolate and Peanut Butter are back together again. It's less singer and lead guitarist and more like a corporation that can't makes it's bottom line without both partners at the meeting. This brings me to...
The show! - what's there to say? It was a fucking best of VH done BY VH!
They did all my favorites including Atomic Punk, Dance The Night Away, I'm the One and Little Guitars. Dave teased the audience by feigning lyrical amnesia during Pretty Woman - nice way to get the crowd singing - which of course we did - MERCY! Dave encored by a telling a great little "getting stoned round the campfire" tale that ended in his breaking into a rousing round of Ice Cream Man.
What did I think about Eddy Van Halen's son Wolfgang on bass rather than VH's original fat string player Michael Anthony? OK, it was a little irritating. I really hoped to see the original line up but it was put to me this way; Eddy Van Halen is a fucking mess health wise, so who knows if he will ever get a chance to play with his kid live if he doesn't now. Michael Anthony had a good run and from what I hear he's all friendly with Sammy Hagar so they can go down to CaboWabo and get blitzed on Sammy's Tequila money while they're not driving 55 together. I'm sure Mike will be ok but Wolfie needs to push away the Hot Pockets and Yoo-Hoos or he'll be joining his mom on those Jenny Craig ads.
Other than that, it was all big ass strut and swagger, big guitars, howitzer drums, awesome showmanship and even if the high kicks and splits of yesteryear have disappeared, watching Dave and Eddy hug on stage was well worth the over 20 year wait and I have to say - seeing it made the Rev. a little misty. Of course the finale that had Dave riding a giant inflatable microphone under a giant disco ball while confetti exploded everywhere was pretty awesome too.
A(and the cradle will mother-fucking ROCK!)Men
** Eddy Van Halen actually always favored Kramer Stratocaster style guitars but also owned a few Les Paus as well as some other Gibson products and some interesting Ernie Ball Models as well. I add this because I know some douche will write back saying Eddy played Kramers.