The Van Halen Reunion Exeperience, Return of the Real Guitar Hero
With a successful tour of North America completed and nearly $95 million earned the recently reunited Van Halen have returned to the rock stage in 2008 just in time. Whammy bars and extended guitar solos are decidedly back in fashion.
After a long delay, cancellations, and much speculation about the reasons, the mighty Van Halen, fronted by their original vocalist David Lee Roth, took the stage in impressive fashion at American Airlines Center in Dallas earlier this Spring.
In addition to Roth, the teenage son of Eddie Van Halen, Wolfgang, replaced Michael Anthony on bass and proves the theory that musical ability is genetic. The kid can sing and the kid can really play.
I saw my first Van Halen concert in 1993 at Starplex when the band was still fronted by the great Sammy Hagar. I've seen the band 5 times previously. I even caught the short lived Gary Cherone era in 1998.
The David Lee Roth era of Van Halen was technically before my time, musically speaking. I knew of the older material and my older sisters played the vinyl LP's of those early Van Halen records over and over. The Sammy Hagar era was more in my time. I started playing guitar when 1991's For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge was released. My discovery of Van Halen started pretty late in the game and didn't really involve David Lee.
Until Thursday night, I was a staunch Van Hagar fan. I never really understood the fascination with David Lee Roth until I saw Thursday night's performance at AAC. It's hard for me to be impressed sometimes at concerts, because I've been to so many over the years. Thursday night was an exception though. I was blown away. David Lee Roth stands up and competes very well with any rock front-man in the biz, past or present. His voice was crisp and he actually stayed in key and hit the majority of his notes with skill. David Lee Roth has been called many things, most recently, a talk show host. The guy still has it. The sounds, stage, and light show were fantastic.
Even more impressive was the improvement in Eddie Van Halen's guitar playing and sound quality. On our side of the stage the guitar mix was especially crisp and clear. For a guitar player, hearing every note so clearly from the great Van Halen is pure joy. I can admit getting more than a few chills watching and listening to the master shredding though his back catalogue of incredible tunes.
There had been talk and video evidence that the ninja of all guitar players was slipping a bit. I can confirm this personally from Van Halen's last performance in Dallas in 2004. It seemed like something was amiss back on '04. Eddie didn't look good or sound good in '04. Fast forward four years..the guy still has it.
Van Halen basically invented one of the most imitated styles in modern guitar, ever. It's incredible to see and hear where so many riffs and guitar techniques originated from. The highlight of the concert for me was the song "Hot For Teacher" It's sometimes impossible to match studio quality on stage. Van Halen gets impressively close to sounding like the records. I've never witnessed such impressive musicianship all around. Bravo gentlemen.
Eddie Van Halen is a legend and still lives up to that title in concert. The band rocked with confidence and grinned from ear to ear all night long. I loved it. I'm gonna go buy 1984 and brush up on my whammy bar skills. Running with the devil, no doubt. Welcome back Eddie