A Van Halen concert review and photos from Andrew Wilson at AXS.com:
The Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California was at a near capacity for Van Halen on Thursday night, the crowd filled with multi-generational fans, some even dressed in their best 80’s gear, completed with big-hair wigs and Frankenstein (the guitar, not the monster) patterned wear. The band features the almost-original lineup, with Wolfgang Van Halen now playing bass since original bassist Michael Anthony’s firing, and have been back together for 7 years now, having released a full album of new material in 2012 with A Different Kind of Truth. Although there have been bumps and smack talking throughout this current era, even with a recent bandmate-bashing Eddie Van Halen interview, you would not be able to tell from their veracious and tight performance, with a Diamond Dave era career spanning set list, and musical gems rarely or never played, since this tour.
Although obviously older, with David Lee Roth’s receding hairline and Eddie Van Halen now with complete silver hair and goatee, and neither close to the aerial leaps and gymnastics of long ago, with Roth now opting for a 12×12-linoleum dance floor to slide across, the quality of their performance, you would think you had time-travelled back to 1984. Kicking off the set with “Light Up the Sky”, a song not performed since 1980, the 23-song set, along with drum and guitar solos, filled Mountain View with a greatest hits showcase of a truly legendary band. From the debut Van Halen with “Runnin’ With the Devil” to obvious choices “Panama” and “Jump” from 1984, it was the rarities that separated a good performance from the great, and awe-inspiring performance they gave. “Drop Dead Legs”, off 1984, and “Dirty Movies” from Fair Warning, both never played live before this tour, and “In A Simple Rhyme” fromWomen & Children First that hadn’t seen the concert stage since the late 70’s, gave the die-hard fans a unique, and memorable experience. Other highlights included “Little Guitars”, “Ice Cream Man” complete with an anecdote about meeting James Brown, “Everybody Wants Some!!”, and “Unchained”, although the entire show could really be considered one big highlight.
Van Halen would not be Van Halen without Eddie; arguably one of the greatest guitar players of any generation, and he inspired the movement and technique of tapping, his guitar solo brought the entire house down. Touching on intros for “Little Guitars” and “Mean Street”, and genre defining solos “Spanish Fly”, “Cathedral” and “Eruption”, there was no doubt just how truly iconic his playing is. David Lee Roth even seemed taken aback, fumbling through the follow-up song “You Really Got Me”, and even complimenting his longtime frenemy on his performance during the song.
Van Halen’s current tour has only just begun, with stops from Utah to New York through August, and circling their way back through the East and Mid-West in September, concluding on the West Coast in early October. Young and old, new and old fans, this is a concert experience not to be missed.
See more photos from VH’s shoreline show at AXS.com.