At the press conference announcing the 2007 tour, a giddy David Lee Roth asked an excited but at times skeptical crowd of journalists and fans to “judge the band harshly” in his confidence the group could still deliver the goods on stage.
The man got his wish, as a countless reviews poured in once the tour commenced, in Sept, 2007. And despite the fact that die-hard fans were upset that Michael Anthony wasn’t part of it, most reviews, from from fans and critics alike, were extremely positive. People raved about astounding performances of classic songs that had been neglected far too long, and the joy of seeing Roth back with the band. As for the negative reviews, there were several complaints about sound quality, and there were a some shows (thankfully, very few) were fans thought that Eddie gave a sub-par performance, possibly due to drinking.
Below are two live versions of one of Van Halen’s most ass-kicking songs, “Mean Street.” One was filmed in South American in 1983, while the other was filmed during the 2008 tour.
We admit this isn’t quite an apples-to-apples comparison, as we will have to compare professionally filmed footage and soundboard audio from ’83 to footage that an audience member filmed on a consumer digital camera, in ’08.
It might seem almost unfair to Van Halen to do this, because, after all, how many bands (if any) are capable of playing a song just as good now as they did 20 to 30 years ago? Everyone (be they a plumber or a musician) tends to lose some zip on their fastball over a period of thirty years, as age is the great equalizer common to us all.
Here are the two performances of “Mean Street,” for your viewing pleasure. How does the VH of the past measure up to the current model? Draw your own conclusions, and let us know here at the VHND how you see things.
“Mean Street” 1983:
“Mean Street” 2008: