Last night’s private press club show at Cafe Wha? in New York City was truly a historic event. Not since the mid ’70’s has Van Halen played at such in intimate setting, as noted by Roth in this statement, “The last time we played on a stage this low, we had to have the car back by midnight.”
The street to the club was closed down to traffic with New York City’s finest NYPD and NYFD patrolling the outside scene filled with excited fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the band or hear a bit of the music or even try to finagle their way inside. Even the police and firemen were not immune to the excitement. They were all smiles as they relayed to fans how they had heard the soundcheck hours earlier. One of the officers beamed “they sounded awesome, man!” Another mentioned hearing them play what seemed to be a brand new song. The vibe outside was filled with anticipation and excitement with lots of great energy flowing through the crowd. Passers-by stopping to ask “what is going on…who is playing here?” were shocked to hear that Van Halen would be playing in such a venue. One of them asked, “Really? The ACTUAL VAN HALEN is playing here tonight??”
The Cafe Wha?, located in Greenwich Village, was the perfect location for this showcase. This intimate basement club is filled with character and history. Its stage has been graced by early performances of legendary artists including a young Bob Dylan. One of the main reasons the band selected this club is due to the fact that it also holds a very personal connection for one band member. It was once owned by Dave’s now 92 year old Uncle Manny (who was present in the audience last night and was given a special shout out by Dave himself). Emotional attachment was evident as Dave shared stories of coming to the club as a seven year old boy and carving his name into the banister, and how proud his Uncle Manny was after installing the still present marble floors himself. Dave stated he was more nervous to play this gig than any gig at the Garden, and it was easier to get into the Hall of Fame than to get a gig playing this place.
A surreal experience indeed, a blast from the past or a way to travel back to 1976 without the use of a time machine. A raw, untouched, real experience to say the least. The mighty Van Halen back playing together in a small intimate setting, each of them grinning from ear to ear. The energy between the band was one of old friends and brothers with a sense of ease and peacefulness. The band members appeared very relaxed with one another and genuinely thrilled to be playing together on this tiny stage.
Eddie appeared healthy and solid on guitar. “He’s still got it” was on the lips of the music industry’s finest journalists. There was no boozin’ or smokin’ by this guitarist this night. It appeared that Eddie was using an electric cigarette so we are speculating that he is trying to kick smoking.
Wolfgang hammered out the bass and exchanged many smiles back and forth with his father. It was obvious that Wolfie has matured both as a performer and as a musician. Sitting directly in front of Wolfgang and his cabinets, we had the unique opportunity to have an up close and personal look at what an accomplished bassist Wolfie is becoming. Following in the really big footsteps of both his father and uncle, it is clear that Wolfie has indeed inherited the Van Halen musical gene.
Alex pounded out the drums as consistent as always with an old oriental rug as a back drop.
In the spirit of the night, Dave sported overalls and a cap instead of his usual Diamond Dave attire. His vocals were strong and “tour ready.” His onstage banter was unique to this night and centered around New York City, the cafe itself, and his experiences working as a NYC Paramedic.
The set list consisted mostly of classic VH hits with new twists and some improvising by the band which added a new and fresh sound to these songs. The band also played a new song, “She’s The Woman”. As serious fans may know, this song actually came from an old demo made in 1976. Ever since the discovery of this demo, die hard fans have been wanting the band to release this as official material. Although the new song is based on the original demo recording, the song has been tweaked and changes have been made on the new recording, such as having a completely new guitar solo. (View our video of “She’s The Woman” below.)
As the band played, Interscope records released dates for the first leg of the upcoming US tour. Get ready because tickets go on sale January 10th and the first show is right around the corner on February 18th in Louisville, KY.
The band’s new album is titled, A Different Kind Of Truth and the first official single from the new album, “Tattoo,” is scheduled for release on Tuesday, January 10th. The entire album will be released on February 7th. In regards to the record, a source close to the band could not contain his excitement and had this to say… “Just wait until the fans hear this album! They are going to freaking love it! It is absolutely killer. It is like old Van Halen, hard and fun. I have heard the whole thing!”
Oh, what a night… This was but a small preview of the greatness that is right around the corner. Get ready people, 2012 is going to be a great year for VH fans. This moment has been long awaited but is finally here. Rejoice, the party is about to begin….
Noteworthy attendees: Eddie Trunk & Jim Florentine from “That Metal Show”, Brad Tolinski and others from “Guitar World Magazine”, legendary Rolling Stone writer David Fricke, John McEnroe, Patty Smyth, Jimmy Fallon, and Dave’s sisters Lisa and Allison.