Eddie And Dave: They’re Back Where They Belong
Skip the turkey, get a little ham – it all evens out.
Actually, make that a lot of ham: Any of the 20,000 or so concertgoers who might have skipped Thanksgiving dinner to catch David Lee Roth’s reunion with long-estranged bandmates Eddie and Alex Van Halen at the Air Canada Centre last night were instead fed incontrovertible truth: that the one place the unrepentantly showboating Roth truly belongs is onstage with Van Halen. Not on the radio, not circling the casino circuit on his iffy solo catalogue, not tending to sucking chest wounds as a paramedic, but onstage fronting the band whose status as one of American hard rock’s defining standard bearers has noticeably dwindled in the 22 years since his departure.
This appears obvious to all involved in the reunion endeavour, since there was no evidence of the legendary bad blood between Eddie and Roth displayed in the wide grins and re-emerging onstage camaraderie that lent last night’s sold-out ACC gig – another follows on Friday night – an infectiously joyous spirit that extended beyond the well-oiled long-weekend throng jamming the stands.
All four band members were genuinely beaming throughout the two-hour-plus show, and none more than proud papa Eddie, whose 16-year-old son Wolfgang justified the doting-dad treatment he was repeatedly accorded during the show for his precocious ability to fill ousted original bassist Michael Anthony’s shoes. The way Eddie kept looking at his kid – fawning sometimes, encouraging others and often simply awed – was actually kinda touching, and melted much of the cynicism one often can’t help but feel towards these big-ticket rock revivals.
What put this one over was the feeling that the band, only a half-dozen dates into the tour, is still getting a grip on not just how much Van Halen fans have been waiting to hear the classic material from its superior first six records with Roth – from 1978’s “Runnin’ With the Devil,” “Jamie’s Cryin'” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” to 1984‘s indelible “Hot For Teacher,” “Panama” and “Jump,” there wasn’t a lapse of momentum in the set list – but also on how much it’s missed playing them to noisy arenas seething with jubilant devotees.
Roth, shorn of his blond mane and decked out like a top-hatted mariachi musician, isn’t quite the athletic livewire he was 20 years ago, but his voice and his wit are perfectly intact. Eddie, likewise, still manages to surprise with the kinetic fervour and evolving sonic strangeness of his virtuoso guitar playing. It’s a pity, really, that these two parts had to piss away two dodgy decades before finally realizing the value of the sum they’d lost.
The video footage just keeps rolling in. Here’s some from Van Halen’s Oct. 7, 2007 show in Toronto.
Guitar Solo 1:
Guitar solo, part 1:
Guitar solo, part 2:
Guitar solo, part 3:
Guitar solo, part 4:
Somebody Get Me a Doctor:
Hot for Teacher: