February 16 – Jacksonville, Florida
From Florida Times-Union:
The best thing about Saturday night’s Van Halen concert at Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena was seeing almost all of the original band back together. The reunion that started last year brought lead singer David Lee Roth back on stage with the band for the first time in more than 20 years.
The worst was that you just couldn’t hear Roth well enough. It went past the usual not being able to understand all the lyrics. We could barely hear him at all over the guitar, bass and drums of the three Van Halens. (It’s even more a family affair these days now that 16-year-old Wolfgang Van Halen has taken up the bass and joined his father Eddie Van Halen and uncle Alex Van Halen.)
Maybe Roth still has the voice, maybe not. He seemed to be working hard at the vocals. He not as active as he once was, who is? All three original members are in their 50s, but still look more than fit.
Roth still pulled off a few of his signature leg-kicking jumps. And he mugged and preened for the crowd and the cameras, one part rock star, one part circus ringmaster. (Though I confess that the image of a game show host on a cruise ship came to mind from time to time.)
The music, however, was classic Van Halen. Eddie Van Halen is still one of the guitar gods and the show featured lots of Eddie, from the minute he showed up on stage, shirtless and solo. And he knows lots of ways to get notes out of an electric guitar. Tapping the strings, twisting the knobs, working the pedals and filling the arena with walls of feedback.
With the vocal so lost, it was Van Halen’s trademark riffs that signaled the songs.
“You’re going to get a free history lesson from Van Halen tonight,” Roth announced. And the crowd – mostly 30s-50s, with a few scattered teens here and there – did. If they didn’t sell it out the place, it was close. Even those sections along the side almost behind the stage were full.
The band took them back in time, moving quickly through about two hours worth of their songs, pretty much all from 1978 to 1984: You Really Got Me, I’m the One, Romeo Delight, Somebody Get Me a Doctor, Beautiful Girls, Dance the Night Away, Everybody Wants Some, So This Is Love, Pretty Woman, Unchained, And the Cradle Will Rock, Hot For Teacher, Little Guitars, Jamie’s Cryin’, Panama …
Just for fun, bits of other songs like Magic Bus and Spoonful showed up here and there.
Alex Van Halen had his drum solo, Eddie Van Halen his guitar solo. Roth probably went out a little too long talking about teenage years in Pasadena before kicking of a fine acoustic-turned-electric version of Ice Cream Man.
It didn’t take the band long to come back out for an encore. The synthesized sounds of 1984 came from somewhere while Roth waved a big red flag. Then they kicked into Jump and the big disco ball spun and confetti blew down from the ceiling.