From Vancouver Sun:
No matter how fast and furious the guitar playing, how crazy the drumming, or how impassioned the singing, there was no escaping the fact that Wednesday’s Van Halen show at GM Place was an attempt to re-live a long-gone era.
Maybe that’s precisely what made the show so great for so many.
The 13,000 or so fans seemed to love the rocking reunion of Eddie Van Halen, his drummer brother, Alex, and the notorious David Lee Roth. But there was also something slightly sad and stale about the tunes, the performance, the bare chests and the male bravado.
Sure, it was a welcome hit of high-testosterone rock nostalgia for those who like that kind of thing (and the mostly male crowd certainly seemed to be lapping it up). But for those of us who might be tired of rock reunions and the platform they provide for preening, aging rock stars, this was simply too much.
Part of my lack of appreciation for the show was undoubtedly due to the terrible acoustics from the press box. The echoes and overblown volume made the tunes miserably muffled and almost undistinguishable.
I may not be a Van Halen fan, but I know their hits when I them and I could barely make them out from where I was sitting. Yes, I could have moved down to the stands, but I was reluctant to sit among the fans after nearly getting knocked out by a beer bottle tossed off the Georgia Street viaduct on my way in to the stadium.
The band emerged promptly at 8:30 p.m. Eddie showed up shirtless, tanned and sinewy — looking like the weathered 52-year-old he is.
David Lee Roth’s unruly blond mane has been cut back to look almost clean and boyish, and he was wearing a bright yellow, flamboyantly embroidered jacket with a polka-dotted shirt and black leather pants. (He took off his shirt not long after the show began.)
Eddie’s 16-year-old son, Wolfgang, admirably and impressively filled the role of bass player, but looked conspicuously like an outsider all covered up in his black hoodie.
But of course, it wasn’t about fashion, it was about the rock ‘n’ roll. And there was plenty of that — plenty of mind-boggling guitar solos from Eddie, a drum solo from brother Alex that raised my heart rate and plenty of high kicks from David Lee Roth to accompany his remarkably strong vocals.
Even though I didn’t particularly enjoy the show, I will admit that this configuration of Van Halen should rightly have a place in the pantheon of rock gods. There’s no denying that fact.
The show opened appropriately with You Really Got Me, indicating to fans this was going to be a night of pure, unadulterated rock. Fists pumped in unison down on the floor and certain screams sounded like they were verging on hysteria during Running with the Devil and, later in the show, Dance the Night Away and Hot for Teacher.
There was a weirdly tender rock moment when father and son got down on their knees to play off each other and Eddie leaned over and appeared to kiss his son on the forehead before they got up. For some reason, I instantly thought of comedian Jack Black, but I don’t think there was any irony intended.
Alex Van Halen played an astoundingly complicated drum solo that left him drenched in sweat and smiling like a goofy kid by the time it was over.
Eddie stood alone at the front of the stage toward the end of the show to play a long — and surprisingly moody and atmospheric — guitar solo.
And Roth — who was the main draw of the night because he left the band in 1985 after infamous feuding with Eddie — strutted and pranced and belted his heart out as though there was no place he’d rather be than on that stage.
Judging from the smiles and the energy of the men on stage, you would never guess they once hated each other.
The show’s momentum built gradually and by the time Roth came out one final time — waving a giant red flag above his head — to the unmistakable synth opening of Jump, the crowd was in a frenzy.
For a few minutes, it was a bit like it was 1984 all over again, whether you liked it or not.
From The Province:
Van Halen Kicks A–!
That was the very first T-shirt I saw coming up the stairs. The second one to draw my attention was the giant guy with “Got Roth” on the front of his T along with “David Lee Roth IS Van Halen.” Well, he certainly is an essential ingredient.
But there is that guitar player.
Seeing Eddie Van Halen pull out his bag of tricks just might never grow old. The guitarist’s arsenal of creative techniques and sonic vocabulary on the six strings is still astounding. He doesn’t so much approach his leads as he uncoils them, striking out in all directions with one underlying goal: The Killer Riff.
Beginning with “You Really Got Me,” the group tore into the show like it had something to prove. The already shirtless and sweaty Eddie drove into the Kinks’ classic with gusto, Roth nailed one of his signature tornado kicks in the first 90 seconds and Alex Van Halen pounded like a neanderthal on a wooly mammoth’s skull.
What of young Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie’s son and the replacement for the band’s longtime bassist, Michael Anthony?
Well, besides the fact that Baby Rock is living out just about the coolest family vacation anyone could ask for, he was also up to the job. Particularly nailing all of those three-part harmonies that make a tune like “Dance the Night Away” rise over the ordinary.
Not that the sold-out crowd would’ve been bothered by the group pulling out some of its few filler tunes from the Roth era. A more devoted group of motorcycle enthusiasts, working dudes and headbangers would’ve been hard to find. Where Sunday’s Spice Girls reunion was at about a five-to-one ratio of girls to boys, last night at GM Place was the exact reverse. They came to pah-tay with their fave pardy rawkers. Which meant the occasional flaring of tempers and heated exchanges — or worse.
Hey, did you know that they have emergency seat covers to deal with those nasty occasions when a tad too much of that whiskey you took home decides to free itself? Now I do.
Standing or staggering, one thing was for sure. There was no embarrassment in playing air guitar along with “Little Dreamer” or that sledgehammer progression in “Everybody Wants Some.” This is the band that made many an OK guitar player just retire their instruments altogether and leave the solos to the experts.
There certainly were a good many opportunities to hear Eddie cut loose, too. In a set list that heavily favoured the group’s first four albums, the quartet pulled out surprises such as “Atomic Punk” and “Somebody Get Me a Doctor,” alongside classics such as “Unchained” and “Beautiful Girls.” Roth and Van Halen looked fighting fit and like they were having a genuinely good time on stage together. Ever fighting the urge to release his inner lounge singer, Roth just couldn’t stop smiling: at his fellow players, at the audience, at the idea of being back on top again.
From the clean and crisp sound mix to the well-shot megatronic video screen, there wasn’t a thing out of place last night. Well, OK, Alex Van Halen has a drum kit straight out of Freaks & Geeks with not one, not two, but six bass drums, and the stage had this big runway that hardly was used. Minor quibbles.
On Wednesday, December 5, VAN HALEN performed in Vancouver, British Columbia’s GM Place to another sold-out house. After VAN HALENtook their final bow, an excited fan jumped onstage running past David Lee Roth while shaking hands with Alex Van Halen. By this time the security was on the stage in pursuit as the fan ran past Eddie Van Halentowards the side of the stage. Ed appeared to try and stop the guy from jumping off the stage by signaling for him to not go that way. The guy didn’t heed Ed‘s warning and attempted to jump off of the stage from what looked like a covered area. Rather than making a clean jump, the curtained floor collapsed beneath him and he went down like a ton of bricks face first. As the security descended upon the guy for an assured beating, Eddie walked off the stage to see if he was alright. Upon seeing that the guy was obviously pretty banged up, Eddie separated him from security and walked with him, arm around shoulder backstage.
“The Rock n’ Roll Breakfast Show”‘s Reverend Donnie Black will interview “The Fan” on this Friday’s show around 1:30 p.m. PST. Tune in online at this location and hear what happened/
An excerpt from the email exchange between the Reverend and “The Fan”:
Rev: So what happened after you and Ed walked off the stage? I was talking about you on our last show, and would love to hear the story.
The Fan: “After I bailed, I noticed security all around me and I accepted my fate then I felt a hand on my shoulder and I thought it was another guard, but I turned and lone behold it was the mighty Eddie Van Halen. Right away he asked if I was alright and told the security to back off and not beat me to a pulp…”