This review is from Van Halen author/fan, Kevin Dodds.
The four guys that took the stage in Dallas last night were the supreme machine.
My expectations were greatly exceeded. This being the first of three shows I am going to see in a five-day period, I watched this show mostly in awe. I didn’t really sing along or yell – sometimes I didn’t even clap after songs – I was just overwhelmed. I had 18th row on Ed’s side, so there they were – right there in front of me. I had an 8GB card that captured 58 minutes of video. I tried to make a point of filming every other song, but especially the new ones since I had never seen those performed live before. Because I was on the floor, I had to hold my camera essentially over my head – therefore, my camera work pretty much sucked. However, the audio on my camera is quite good.
The number one thing that no camera can truly capture is the love, admiration, and brotherhood amongst the guys in the band. A never ending flow of smiles, laughs, nods, funny faces, pokes, and outright public lauding of each other. At the end of “Ice Cream Man,” Edward yelled, as per usual, “David Lee Roth!” But then he got real: “The ORIGINAL Ice Cream Man!” And as if that wasn’t enough, he screamed one more time, “DAVID LEE ROTH!!!” At the end of Ed’s solo, Dave said, “Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only, and still champion of the free world – EDWARD VAN HALEN!!!”
The band was so on fire and they knew it. The jams were all extremely long and extended. Dave’s raps were at times hilarious, poignant, and at one point even fairly intense. That man brings to the stage what no one else can bring. I can’t even say what that is because if it could be defined, someone else could do it. But no one else can. In my opinion, as far as musical entertainers go, you have Elvis, and then you have David Lee Roth. When you are in the same arena as that guy, you are feeding and feeding off his energy.
I’m not even going to get into any of the “he can’t sing,” “he’s off-pitch sometimes,” “he forgets the words” nonsense. He is the man, plain and simple. In my opinion, his voice was excellent, and I have to say it was exceptionally great on the semi-maligned “I’ll Wait” during which the focus is predominantly on him. During ATBL, Dave realized he was in the banshee shriek zone and nailed that classic scream about four times in a row. It was astounding.
About another recent concert, someone else said something along the lines of the fact that Ed doesn’t have a technique. He just is. Everything comes from within him. The same as Dave – Ed has it. I’ve already spent 150,000 words on trying to define who he is as a person, but as a player, there’s no point putting words to it. And, like all guitarists, some nights you are in the zone, some nights are a little eh. Edward Van Halen in Dallas was beyond the zone. He played essentially 100% flawlessly. I equate it to someone having had the good fortune to see Mozart play in the 18th century.
I got the feeling that I was watching a few guys that have had some stuff to deal with, some stuff to work out, and it appears quite obvious to me from their performance and stage presence that everything and anything that might have needed to have been said or settled has taken place. These guys clearly, clearly love performing with each other and are, finally, treating their legacy with the ultimate respect.
Unlike a lot of other fans, I had to wait forever, with tickets in hand, to see this show. Six months. I was subject to hundreds of videos that I couldn’t look away from. However, I did avoid seeing too much stuff lately – mostly just keeping track to see how they have been performing since the dreaded postponement. I was not tabula rasa when I went into the building. Again – even with that, all of my expectations were exploded beyond my highest hopes. At one point, it occurred to me that the performance I was watching was perfectly suitable for DVD release had it been filmed properly.
The band is in such an incredible groove right now that is a huge shame that the tour has to stop at this point. However, realizing that I get to go see the next two shows is very comforting, and I plan to be in less awe and enjoy the shows a little more as they are happening!
Evidence that Edward in particular is on fire at the moment is the fact that his guitar solo in Dallas went beyond NINE minutes in length! I am sorry for all of those that only got the five-minute version. Ed’s solo spot last night was essentially like the spots of old. He knew it too and was grinning and giving the thumbs up throughout. At a relatively random point during the following song, “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” Dave was over side by side with Eddie and just blurted out, “That was a great fuckin’ solo, man!” At another point, Dave said, “I have to say this is one of the absolute best shows we’ve done in the 50 or so so far!”
The “Jump” outro was triumphant. The flag, the confetti, the non-stop applause, the final bow…it was spectacular.
For this especially fervent fan of classic Van Halen – what I witnessed was everything I came to see and more.
On to San Antonio and Houston!
Kevin Dodds is the author of Edward Van Halen: A Definitive Biography.
Watch Van Halen perform “Ice Cream Man” on the 2012 ‘A Different Kind of Truth’ tour in Dallas.