May 15th, 2008
Crowd wowed by Diamond Dave's stage antics, Eddie's shredding
By COREY STULCE
Even though David Lee Roth has said, with a Cheshire cat grin, "Better
late than never," on most Van Halen reunion tour stops, it had special
meaning for the St. Louis audience Saturday night.
It was the third scheduled date after two postponements. The concert's
original date was more than six months ago.
But the more than three-quarters-full house at Scottrade Center didn't
seem to mind the wait as the lights went dark and thunderous screaming
and applause was heard as the band took the stage.
Roth triumphantly waved a huge, red flag as his band mates, the Van
Halens, Alex, Eddie and his son, Wolfgang, exploded into the Kinks'
cover "You Really Got Me."
The blaring shreds of Eddie's guitar, Wolfie's impressive bass slaps and
Alex's pounding overshadowed the vocals of Roth through much of the
night - the only disappointment in a night filled with hits and rocking
deep album cuts.
Diamond Dave seemed more concerned with entertaining the rabid crowd
with mime work, high kicks, struts and microphone stand acrobatics than
actually singing. When he could be heard clearly on tunes like "Jamie's
Cryin'" and "Little Dreamer," his voice sounded as young as it did more
a quarter-century ago.
Controversy has followed this reunion since it was announced more than a
year ago, from the decision to not include original bass player Michael
Anthony to the postponement of shows due to a rumored rehab stint for
None of that seemed to matter Saturday night, though, as Eddie never
sounded better, tearing through his signature sound on favorites like
"Beautiful Girls," "Everybody Wants Some," and "Hot for Teacher." Even
Dave had to pause during that number, relating the impressive guitar
changes to Felix the Cat slipping off his feet and gliding off into the
But it's that weird Dave that the folks love. Throughout the night, he
used his hands to mime taking and processing photographs of father and
son singing together into the same mic, and also to pretend to be
holding some sort of automatic weapon, firing aimlessly into the night.
Decked out in a tight leather get-up, Roth eventually displayed his
lean, mean body - his visible abdominal muscles making him look like an
ageless action figure.
Eddie kept mostly quiet, but had an ever-present smile wide on his mug.
He let his guitar do the bulk of the communication and stayed relatively
in the same spot for much of the show. Only late in the set did he and
Wolfgang offer a choreographed hop from the drum stand. Hey, you can't
blame the guy for not swinging from the rafters like the old days; he
had a hip replacement about a decade ago.
Kudos also to Wolfgang, who with his dad, provided the backing chorus on
many songs throughout the night. They helped keep the vocals strong on
cuts like "Dance the Night Away," an evening highlight. Only on "Pretty
Woman," a hard rock take on the Roy Orbison classic, did the sound get a
little shaky. For a 16-year-old kid going through his awkward teen years
on stage in front of 10s of thousands, Wolfgang performed like a
Roth commented about the reunion, "three-quarters original, one-quarter
inevitable," and gave props to the young Van Halen throughout the
Years of bad blood between Eddie and Dave also seemed to melt away, as
the two seemed playful during the festivities. Clearly the whole band
was having a fantastic time.
Alex delivered a rousing, if a little long, drum solo. Eddie's solo
reminded fans of hard rock that he remains king of the pedals and
The night's peak probably came when Dave, strumming an acoustic guitar,
told the origin story of the band and of the song "Ice Cream Man," a
marijuana-fueled teen fantasy. As he finished the first verse, the rest
of the band kicked in, and then followed with the best song of the
night, "Panama," one of Van Halen's biggest hits.
Not lingering long for the encore, Dave once again returned with his red
flag, this time wearing a hat out of the H.M.S. Pinafore, as the
keyboards of "1984" played over the loud speakers. It was time for
"Jump," the track that made the band MTV superstars, and then it was
time for goodnight.
Van Halen set list:
You Really Got Me
I'm the One
Runnin' With the Devil
Somebody Get Me a Doctor
Dance the Night Away
Everybody Wants Some
So This Is Love?
And the Cradle Will Rock
Hot for Teacher
Ice Cream Man
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
David Lee Roth sports a red top hat as he wows a Saturday night crowd
with "Runnin with the Devil" at St. Louis' Scottrade Center.
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