Form New York Times:
PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 3 — Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth both had big, open-mouthed grins throughout Van Halen’s set at the Wachovia Center here on Wednesday night. And why not? Reunited for their first tour together since the band fired Mr. Roth in 1985, and despite countless rancorous exchanges since then, they can still sing, play and strut around arena stages with their shirts off.Mr. Van Halen’s grin belonged to someone who has happily rebounded. He was reportedly in rehab on the night earlier this year when Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While he no longer looks boyish, he is still toned enough to go skipping around the stage while he unleashes the wailing high notes and hyperfast runs that made him one of rock’s most influential guitarists. Mr. Roth’s grin may have held a little astonishment; at 53, he still gets to romp and leer and bask in applause. On stage, Mr. Roth repeatedly embraced Mr. Van Halen and traded high-fives during the band’s 2 ½-hour set. With many fans paying hundreds of dollars a seat, they have a stake in keeping up the old camaraderie.
It’s not a full Van Halen reunion, although Alex Van Halen, Eddie’s older brother, is still on drums. The bassist Michael Anthony has stayed with Sammy Hagar, the singer who replaced Mr. Roth (and made Van Halen even more popular, though less amusing, in the 1980s and 1990s). Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie’s son, has taken over the bass. But the band still sounds like its old self, which is now a doubly convoluted feat. During Van Halen’s years with Mr. Roth, it was a group of guys in their late 20s and early 30s who were, with a streak of trouper’s irony from Mr. Roth, amping up the teenage hormonal urges of songs like “Hot for Teacher.” Now they are guys in their 50s reviving the heyday of guys in their 20s who were thinking like teenagers.
Then and now, it’s done with virtuosity. Eddie Van Halen’s guitar style took the hard rock he inherited from Led Zeppelin, Cream, Jimi Hendrix and the Who and revved it up with something akin to attention deficit disorder and Tourette’s syndrome. To the old power chords and blues-rock solos, he added startling outbursts of untamed noise and precisely articulated runs — some created by tapping with both hands on the guitar’s fretboard, or hitting strings with a finger to create bell-toned harmonics. Those eruptions continually buttonholed a listener; they also mirrored the volatility of adolescent moods.
A video screen showed giant close-ups of Mr. Van Halen’s hands — scraping a palm or a pick along the strings, shaking notes or chords with the guitar’s vibrato bar, making harmonics ping with a flicked forefinger — doubtless to the delight of guitar players in the crowd. Mr. Roth is in an unusual position for a lead singer, never entirely the center of attention, but he good-naturedly twirled his mike stand and did some head-high kicks as he shared the spotlight and audio foreground with the guitarist.
Unlike progressive rockers, Van Halen didn’t tie its virtuosity to highbrow literary ambition. Its songs — even the ones that get away with odd chord progressions and unconventional structures — laugh their way through thoughts of the most basic lusts. The pleasure of this tour is that even as grown-ups, complete with wrinkles and grudges, Van Halen still hurls zinger after zinger.
Some video footage from Van Halen’s Oct. 3 show in Philadelphia.
Everybody Wants Some:
Hot for Teacher, part 1:
Hot for Teacher, part 2:
Hot for Teacher, part 3:
Dance the Night Away:
You Really Got Me:
I’m the One:
Ice Cream Man, part 1:
Ice Cream Man, part 2: