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Halen Review From The Twin Cites
Whether you consider it Van Halen 1.0 or Van Halen 4.0, the quartet's concert
Wednesday at sold-out Target Center was the rock reunion tour that mattered most
in the Twin Cities this year.
Jon: Like all 14,328 people at the concert, I was thrilled to see David Lee Roth back in the saddle with VH for the first time in 23 years. But this wasn't the Diamond Dave I remember from the first time I saw the band in 1979 at the old St. Paul Civic Center Theatre or the best time I saw the band at the Us Festival in Southern California in 1983. Dave had the spirit and the voice -- such as his voice is -- but last night he lacked the athleticism, energy and lust of vintage Dave.
Chris: Dave looked pretty dang great for 52, but not for his stated sexual preference. He took the stage waving a red flag to the opening riff of "You Really Got Me," and he looked like a gay matador, with a glitzy embroidered jacket, polka-dot shirt, scarf and short bleached-blond hair. Shirtless Eddie Van Halen, on the other hand, looked closer to the age of his 16-year-old son, Wolfgang, who -- to the chagrin of many fans -- stood in for original bassist Michael Anthony.
Jon: No Michael Anthony, no mullets and no brown M&Ms. But lots and lots of Eddie the Shredder. And isn't that why we still crave VH1? Eddie was in the groove all night and he played some fierce and ferocious solos. I especially dug his improvised exchanges with Dave, who would sing a line, and then Shreddie would respond with his guitar -- like on the spontaneous "Magic Bus" and "Spoonful."
Chris: As a band, I thought they really hit their highest points midway through the set with some of their grittier gems like "Atomic Punk" and especially "Everybody Wants Some." I never thought a group of Viagra-aged men and one teenager could match the sleazy sexual energy of a group of 20-somethings from Hollywood in the '70s, but they did in "Want Some,"Beautiful Girls" and many others. If the groupies weren't all his mom's age, I'd bet even Wolfie could have scored backstage after this show.
Eddie was in the groove all night and he played some fierce and ferocious solos.
Jon: They'll have to rename that hit "Hot for the Wolfman." But the bloated bassist looked more like the son of Jack Black, not Eddie Van Halen. Let's be honest, he and his Uncle Alex Van Halen didn't really drive the band on Wednesday. Wolfie's high harmonies were no match for Michael Anthony's. In fact, when Wolfie and Eddie harmonized with Dave it was a little painful, particularly on "Dance the Night Away." But as Dave so accurately put it, this fourth incarnation of VH is "three-fourths original and one-fourth inevitable."
Chris: My paper-route money couldn't cover a Van Halen ticket in 1984, so to me this was the closest to the real thing I've seen. Unquestionably, this was far better than all of the 10 or so Sammy Hagar-era VH shows under my belt, especially the last one at Xcel Center in 2004, which felt fake. There was nothing forced about this.
Granted, Diamond Dave can use the money, but that didn't seem to be his driving force Wednesday. He ate up the spotlight and the cheers like Wolfie eats up hot dogs. As for Alex and Eddie, they seemed to be in it for the musical kicks, enjoying the older tunes that they hadn't touched in decades ("Mean Street!"Little Guitars!!") as much as they did jamming with Dave.
Jon: It was great to hear the pre-Van Hagar hits rendered by the voice of VH1. The only thing that made me think of Sammy was the S-shaped runway, which Dave didn't work enough. But I did appreciate how he seemed to be into the music for the entire two-hours-plus instead of merely into his own goofball antics. Dave and Eddie's joy of playing together seemed to believable through all 25 songs. I'm confident they'll make it all the way through this 29-city tour that ends in early December. What are they going to do for an encore?