After 43 Years, Van Halen Still Knows How To Rock A Show

Van Halen
July 14, 2015
Irvine Meadows- Los Angeles, CA

         There is not much more that can be said about the legendary Van Halen that hasn’t been said already; everyone already knows how skilled the Van Halen family is and how singer David Lee Roth is one of the most entertaining, flamboyant, performers alive. He is just a character who was born for the stage and he commands it each time he performs. Although Sammy Hagar has been with Van Halen longer than Roth, Van Halen is still David Lee Roth because his performance is just one of a kind. Fortunately for long time fans, Van Halen with Roth have been brought back together for a North American summer and fall tour to support their concert album, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert. On it’s 5th date the band came to their home town of Los Angeles and performed an impeccable set which featured hits, new songs, story telling and dance moves.

Van Halen-45After Kenny Wayne Shepherd and his band warmed up the crowd, the amphitheater began filling up quickly. Around 8:45, Alex Van Halen stood atop his drum riser and waved at the crowd who cheered back at him. One by one the rest of Van Halen joined Alex on stage, all smiling. The 25 song set began with Light Up The Sky from the band’s 1979 album, Van Halen II. The band performed with non-stop energy. Roth was constantly sliding across stage, waving his microphone stand like a baton and dancing. He also had multiple ‘wardrobe’ changes, alternating with jackets throughout the night; for I’ll Wait he came out with a sparkling blue jacket. Following I’ll Wait, the attention was all on Alex who performed an impeccable drum solo. At parts there was background ‘music’ playing which sounded a bit like a xylophone metronome. The crowd cheered in excitement as his groove began getting faster and faster. “No one had to go to the bathroom during that, did they!?” Roth exclaimed. Next, the band performed Little Guitars where during the singing pauses Roth said “Who else does this shit without a teleprompter!? Yeah baby!” He flexed as the crowd laughed and continued, “I’m surprised I remember any of the words!” As the night progressed, Roth would tell more stories and jokes.

More and more hits were played including Hot for Teacher and Dance The Night Away and then the band slowed things down. Out came Roth with a lone spotlight flashing on him. He sat in the middle of the stage with a acoustic guitar and harmonica. He strummed the first few notes of John Brim’s Ice Cream Man and then paused for another story telling session. He talked about a venue called Gazzarri’s which was on the Sunset Strip that the band would constantly perform at. He talked about an alley in between Gazzarri’s which was “just enough for two people to settle in.” He tells the crowd that the band never used the dressing room- but “we did fight about who got to use the alley.” The crowd cheered as he performed some tunes on the harmonica. He continued by talking about the early Van Halen days and opening for bands like Black Sabbath and how they would have to bring their own barricade because the promotors barricade would always end up broken. He continued by saying that in those days, security guards at venues had just got the technology for headsets where they could talk to each other throughout the show so, “I had this great idea.” He explained that he had one of those made so that during a show he would see a girl “maybe 5 or 6 rows black and I would say into the headset, ‘5th row, red sweater’,” so that someone can bring her backstage. He stops mid way and tells a fan, “Don’t tell you wouldn’t do that!” He laughs and continues, “This ain’t a Bruce Springsteen show! He plays some more notes of Ice Cream Man then suddenly stops. “Let’s talk about brown M&M’s.” For those who are unaware, Van Halen have been known to request no brown M&M’s in their contract. Many people thought it was because they wanted to make capricious demands but Roth explained that it was a test to see if the promoter actually read the contract thoroughly, as it contained other requirements involving real safety concerts. He explained that they had a very technical stage set up that had to be done right and that one time, their stage sank in and 3 hours before, they found brown M&M’s in their dressing room. So if there were brown M&M’s, 1, the band would trash the place, leaving hundreds of thousands in damage, and 2, there could be a serious safety problem with their stage set up which could ultimately injure someone. After telling the story, Roth and the rest of the band continued the song.Van Halen-15

Rapid bursts of strobes filled the venue, leading into Unchained and Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love. Following was the moment everyone had been waiting for, a guitar solo from the one and only Eddie Van Halen. Eddie wasted no time, effortlessly performing a fast complex pattern with immaculate precision which takes years to master. “We just saw history in the making!” A fan shouts following his solo. Eddie continues with introductory notes of Eruption and then quickly alternates into The Kinks’ You Really Got Me. 

Ending the set was the fan favorite Panama which had Roth’s last jacket change- into a sparkling black jacket and his last story of the night. He told the crowd that he had friends from Japan at the venue and that he had to explain to them that in Southern California, “your car is just a transport system for your radio!” The crowd laughed as the band continued with their encore Jump. With cheers and lights flashing, Roth jumped up for his last jump of the night and ended by swirling his microphone stand as if it was a nunchuck.

Van Halen are legends and will always be known as legends. Not many legends can perform such a high energy set as Van Halen performed in Irvine. They have countless amounts of timeless hits and continue to perform all their songs with a high energy. I recommend purchasing tickets to this tour ASAP because you won’t know when Van Halen will be back.

Review by: Nicole Lemberg 

Van Halen

Kenny Wayne Shepherd