From Edmonton Journal:
Christmas came early for local rock fans as one of the most anticipated reunions pulled into Rexall Place on a snowy, chilly December night.
Playing the part of a sexy, smiley Santa was David Lee Roth, back in the Van Halen saddle after more than 20 years.
As he waved a giant red flag at the start of the group’s two-hour set, then sauntered down the ramp to sing You Really Got Me, 12,500 fans jumped to their feet and roared at the top of their lungs.
They screamed even louder when Roth and guitarist Eddie Van Halen clapped each other on the back at the end of the song. It was one of many overt (and perhaps staged) displays of affection between the two former enemies, yet the two genuinely seemed to be having the time of their lives.
“Look at all the people here tonight,” Roth yelled during I’m the One, surveying the crowd with an incredulous grin.
It felt like 1984 all over again as Van Halen cranked out classics such as Runnin’ with the Devil, Somebody Get Me a Doctor, Beautiful Girls, Dance the Night Away and Mean Street.
Gosh, can you believe it — these guys held on to their grudges for more than 20 years? It’s sad. Think of all they deprived us of. Sure, Sammy Hagar capably filled in for the majority of those years — and helmed three of Van Halen’s No. 1 albums — but there’s something magical and maniacal about Roth.
Who needs pyro and cannons when you have the ultimate in bling — Diamond Dave. He’s one of the showiest and sauciest frontmen in the business, if not slower after all these years.
He didn’t bust out the scissor kicks as often as he used to, but he knew how to work the crowd simply by moving his hips or stroking a top hat strategically placed in front of his crotch.
Whether Roth’s growls were up to par is up for debate. As is the case with most acts in Rexall, he was drowned out by his bandmates, most notably Eddie and his squealing guitar.
From what was audible, however, Roth sounded in strong form, particularly when he tried to outrev Eddie’s guitar on Everybody Wants Some. “Can’t beat that,” the singer quipped after one of Eddie’s godlike displays of finger-tapping.
Of course, Van Halen’s grudges aren’t fully resolved — there’s the little matter of bassist Michael Anthony’s absence. (The brothers reportedly didn’t ask him to participate because he was too chummy with Hagar.)
Instead, Eddie’s son, Wolfgang, is taking Anthony’s place and fulfilling his duties with quiet aplomb. He contributed backing vocals, plucked out a few mini solos, but didn’t try to steal Sunday’s show from his father or Roth.
Yet Eddie couldn’t help but play the proud father — pulling Wolfie’s hair after the two knelt on the stage during Romeo Delight. Aww.
From jam! SHOWBIZ:
EDMONTON – Relatives of dementia sufferers often report that their addled loved ones relive events from their past far more vividly than in their present state. They’re having “seizures of nostalgia.”
Maybe that’s because the present is so much less desirable than the past.
Say you’re in a nursing home peeing into a bag, while just 22 years ago you were rocking out to Van Halen at the height of its powers. What would you choose?
The show at Rexall Place last night was a seizure of nostalgia, all right.
I mean, it was exactly the same show I saw in exactly the same building in the early ’80s … or was it the late ’70s? I can’t be sure. We were all so stoned at the time. I think they even played the same tunes.
They opened with You Really Got Me, ripped into I’m the One, thundered through Running With the Devil … and I’ve run out of meaty adjectives to describe Van Halen’s tremendous catalogue of hits that came fast and furious.
There came Cradle Will Rock, (Oh) Pretty Woman, dare I say an improvement on the Roy Orbison original, and later, Hot for Teacher. Man, it was awesome.
There was the same drum solo from Alex Van Halen. Awesome, of course. There were the same fabulous fretboard fireworks from Eddie Van Halen. Putting all lesser wankers to shame, he picked and hammered on notes in a flurry of baroque passages for an overall sound that could only come from Van Halen. No behind-the-neck-with-your-teeth histrionics are necessary. This guitarist is his own special effect.
You had the same swaggering rhythms that made VH such a fun band to begin with, the same juvenile, party-on lyrics — greatly appealing to us juveniles who enjoy partying on — and finally, to balance the over-the-top excess is the icing on the cake, the clown-like carnival barker, male stripper, Vegas showman, testosteronized icon of all rock ‘n’ roll, ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the one and only David Lee Roth!
With a goofy grin that stretches from forehead to chin, here is the king of all poseurs, a man who puts all other poseurs to shame. We bow before his greatness. We are unworthy.
It was all like a rock ‘n’ roll high school reunion, with the most overheard line, “Hey, man, what happened to your hair?”
Have I used this joke before? I can’t be sure.
Snapping back to reality, it is simply too embarrassing to believe that a gang of 50-year-old men who look good with their shirts off (plus on bass, Eddie’s son Wolfgang, who kept his shirt on) can pull off this sort of material, complete with karate kicks and sensual writhing, and make it sound convincing — but they did.
With deft suspension of disbelief, they performed as if the last 22 years didn’t happen, as if there were no tomorrow, or yesterday.
If any of the 12,000 in attendance weren’t tripping back in time, even if they weren’t born in the late ’70s or early ’80s, I didn’t see it. But I can’t be sure.
This tale is like a rock ‘n’ roll On Golden Pond. It’s a sunset reconciliation of a marriage that shouldn’t have broken up in the first place. If this Van Halen reunion thing takes off — on its inevitable path to a theme park in Las Vegas — folks will not look too kindly on the “Hagar years.”
But better late than never, eh? And besides, Sammy Hagar was — and is — his own thing. Like Roth, he’s an overgrown teenager. Unlike Roth, Hagar is interested in becoming the rock ‘n’ roll Jimmy Buffet.
Roth, however, has no comparisons. This is his band. Always was. Always will be. He embodies all the rock cliches (some of which he invented) in one entertaining package.
You can’t not watch him. It’s like some fascinating car wreck. He was grinning so hard whenever he was in close proximity with Eddie that it looked like he was going to take a bite out of the guitarist’s head.
It almost makes you wish for early dementia.
As Van Halen picks interesting lead singers, they get some interesting acts to open. In this case, Ky-Mani Marley delivered a short and mellow set of hot island sounds to cool our spirits — or was it cool island sounds to warm our hearts? Whatever. It was reggae. What are you going to do when your dad was Bob Marley? Polkas?
The 31-year-old Marley led the kind of schmaltzy show one might see on a cruise ship. His originals tended towards minor-key romantic ballads, with the odd jot of Jamaican-styled rap.
What saved the show was a fair helping of his father’s music, ending with I Shot the Sheriff.