Here’s photos and the local concert review from Van Halen’s performance at the First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania.
Concert review: Classic Van Halen pounds out the hits for fans at First Niagara Pavilion
“It feels like one big [expletive] happy family in here tonight.”
Those were some of the first words Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth shouted to the First Niagara Pavilion crowd Tuesday night, perhaps aimed at the critics who have claimed he’s been on a different page than the real “family” behind him — guitarist Eddie Van Halen; his brother, Alex, the drummer; and Eddie’s son, Wolfgang, the bassist.
Surprisingly, the 60-year-old Roth – who is on his third separate stint with the band – was right this time. Van Halen was indeed one big happy family at the Pavilion.
Roth may have just been the crazy uncle.
As Roth did splits, used his microphone stand as a light saber and made numerous outfit changes, Van Halen played more than two hours of deep cuts and fan favorites that blended classic rock ‘n roll with eccentric showmanship.
The set opened with tracks from the original Roth era – circa 1974 to 1985 – including “Runnin’ With the Devil,” “Romeo Delight” and “Drop Dead Legs,” which showcased the fundamental hard rock instrumentation that put Van Halen in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
It’s hard to expect a band to sound anything like it did 35 years ago, but vintage Van Halen was certainly present in “Everybody Wants Some!!” Roth’s voice, which has been heavily criticized since the tour started, was at its finest at some of the song’s highest notes.
Sure, Roth’s vocals weren’t perfect; his range wavered during “Feel Your Love Tonight” and “I’ll Wait,” and he chose to sing in a lower octave on several occasions.
But what can you expect from a 60-year-old? For a vocalist at this point in his career, it’s an accomplishment in itself that he can still belt out “Women in Love.”
And besides, if anyone in the band hasn’t aged a bit, it’s Eddie. Though he long ago surrendered the vibrant fluorescent cutoffs for jeans and a T-shirt, his skills on the guitar are still refined, his solos still iconic. He played intricate, calculated solos (“Dance the Night Away”), crazy barrages of notes with impeccable timing (“Hot for Teacher”) and everything in between.
At the end of the night, it was Roth, the crazy uncle, perched on a stool, telling jokes with cheesy punchlines while his bandmates took a breather.
With an acoustic guitar in hand and harmonica out front, he reminisced about falling in love with music.
“This is who I am, and this is how I’ll finish,” he said, “but somehow, I ended up in one of the best bands in rock and roll.”
The Van Halen family emerged from the side of the stage to join Roth for “Ice Cream Man,” followed by a slew of smash hits (“Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” “Panama” and “Jump”).
But it wasn’t David Roth and the Van Halens. It was Van Halen, one big happy family that – although dysfunctional at times – is better off together.
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