Pasadena hard rock band Van Halen deftly ripped through a 23-song, two hour set on a balmy Tuesday night in West Palm Beach. At the 19,000 full-capacity show, fans cheered and danced, and, feverishly aspired to sing just about every loud hit the band played. It was a wild and crazy night.
A recent history: Van Halen toured with original singer David Lee Roth in 2007-2008; that tour did unbelievably well. Van Halen also toured behind its LP A Different Kind of Truth (2012), which was commercially well-received. Currently, the band is promoting several items, chief of which a live album, Tokyo Dome Live In Concert (2015). The band has also released a slew of remastered albums.
The set’s makeup featured standout tracks from the band’s late ’70s to mid-’80s era records, the first five having been released year after year: Van Halen (1978) to 1984 (1984). (Remember when bands released albums per year, usually with only ten songs?) One may refer to this as the Roth era. Or one may refer to this as Van Halen’s heyday. Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, a nice signpost along the way.
Singer David Lee Roth was not a low energy person. He arrived on stage wearing a Neil Diamond-esque black, sequined top paired with dark quasi-spandex pants and dancing shoes (plus an array of scarves). For almost the entirety of the set Roth, a dance music aficionado, paraded and pranced all about the place – and subtly reflected his indebtedness to Brown, Jagger, Mercury, and Tyler.
Roth of course didn’t have the voice he once had; and then he had a tendency to over-sing lyrics. However, his hyper-frenetic and hyper-enthusiastic personality was most evident. He appeared a cheerful escapee from a theater on the West End: a born entertainer, someone truly grateful to be in the limelight. Flamboyant and impassioned, Roth charmed the audience into going bananas.
Highlights entail guitar genius Eddie Van Halen’s acrobatic 10-minute solo, which was indisputably intriguing, albeit modest. Moreover, the comedic, meta-musical moment during which Roth detailed the iconic poses of certain musical showmen was matchless. Per Roth, Bon Jovi exploits the well-known “half-Jesus” pose.
It was sage to couple “Everybody Wants Some!!”, a most lively, reliable concert staple from Women and Children First (1980), with the relatively low-key rarity “Drop Dead Legs”, from 1984, in tow. Thematically, these had much in common, and the rhythm section, Alex (drums) and Wolf (bass), effectively navigated that musical landscape. Other luxuries included both opener “Light Up The Sky” and “Dirty Movies”, one of two songs played from Fair Warning (1981).
Another treat was John Brim’s “Ice Cream Man”, which began with Roth on acoustic guitar, but soon turned into a full-band electric jam. Van Halen saved the best for last in that the set’s last three songs were principally iconic anthems that receive frequent radio airplay nowadays – The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me”, “Panama”, and the largely synth-reliant “Jump” – to which the wired audience jumped.
Earlier, Roth invited the crowd to sing the refrain to “Dance the Night Away”, from Van Halen II (1979). “China Town”, from A Different Kind of Truth (2012), was well-done. Both Roth and Eddie were on top of their game for “Hot for Teacher”, a rapid, chaotic, MTV-regular from the illustrious 1984 (1984): the song was dragged out by Eddie, and Roth pulled out a useful if half-baked line from the Bloodhound Gang.
Van Halen, helmed by a vivacious David Lee Roth and a steady Eddie Van Halen, put on a fine, festive old-school hard rock party not to be outdone. The good times have not gone anywhere!
01. Light Up the Sky
02. Runnin’ With the Devil
03. Romeo Delight
04. Everybody Wants Some!!
05. Drop Dead Legs
06. Feel Your Love Tonight
07. Somebody Get Me a Doctor
08. She’s the Woman
09. China Town
10. I’ll Wait
11. Little Guitars
12. Dance the Night Away
13. Beautiful Girls
14. Women in Love…
15. Hot for Teacher
16. In a Simple Rhyme
17. Dirty Movies
18. Ice Cream Man (cover, John Brim)
20. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
Guitar Solo (Eddie Van Halen)
21. You Really Got Me (cover, The Kinks)