From Guitar International.com:
Thirty two years to the week of the release of their album Women and Children First, the mighty Van Halen brought “A Different Kind of Truth” to the nation’s capital, captivating a sell out crowd with an evening of classic hits as well as new material from their current release, A Different Kind of Truth.
“Are…you… ready?” screamed legendary front man David Lee Roth, receiving a deafening response from the 20,000 plus rabid fans; to which Eddie Van Halen responded by launching into the opening chords of “Unchained”, from the 1981 recording Fair Warning.
Eddie’s son, Wolfgang, soon ascended to the highest point of the stage’s stairs; his bass held up above his head, where he laid down the all too familiar bass march that begins “Runnin’ with the Devil”. The Verizon Center sang the classic chorus in unison under the capable direction of the ringmaster Roth, who had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand all night.
New singles “She’s the Woman” and “Tattoo” from A Different Kind of Truth would bracket Diver Down’s “The Full Bug”, as the band did a masterful job of inserting their newer numbers within their more classic and well known material. This methodology of song set construction (as well as the absence of the more “adult contemporary” hits of the Hagar era) kept the show moving at a freight train’s pace the entire evening. The music was a loud, hard hitting, take no prisoners joy ride. This was going to be a hard rocking party…and Van Halen at their best.
With original bassist Michael Anthony having been replaced by Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang in 2007, there are still a few contingents of fans that scoff at the current lineup, but their arguments grow fainter and fainter as the younger Van Halen has obviously been studying at the feet of his masters for the last five years. The then sixteen year old on tour in 2007 is now twenty-one, and those five years of experience are quite evident. The more straight forward bass lines of five years ago have been replaced with Wolfgang’s own touch, as well a much greater contribution and range in the area of backing vocals. There’s something to be said about genetic harmonies this father and son are spot on. Wolfie is slowly starting to make his own mark, and at the rate he’s going, fewer and fewer folks will continue clamoring for the return of Anthony. Wolfgang Van Halen is that, a Van Halen; not just a member of the family, a legit member of the band.
The band rocked through hits from every Roth era recording, including “Everybody wants Some”, “Somebody get me Doctor”, as well as their covers of the Roy Orbison classic “Oh, Pretty Woman” and “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks. The DC crowd was also treated to two new additions to the set list, “Jamie’s Cryin” and “Hang ‘Em High”, the latter being played for just the second time on the current tour.
Of course, it just wouldn’t be a Van Halen show without “Diamond Dave” letting the audience know at some point “I forgot the f—ing words”; on this night, it was during “I’ll Wait” from the multi-platinum album 1984. One has to wonder at times how many of these lyrical hiccups are legitimate and how many are standard Roth shtick, but the crowd seems to love it either way. “Just chase me to the chorus”, exclaimed Roth as he extended the microphone toward the adoring throng.
The first opportunity anyone had to catch their breath was provided by Roth, who strummed some delightful acoustic guitar pieces and discussed his life and his dogs while video of his canines in action displayed on the massive LED screen above. The vignettes led into a cover of John Brim’s “Ice Cream Man”, which would be quickly followed by crowd favorite “Panama”.
With the wails of Roth’s “Panama” vocals still ringing throughout the venue, the moment had come in the show that every axe man and air guitar player in attendance had waited for. The snare hits and floor tom rolls followed by the cymbal crash and power chords meant only one thing, ”Eruption”; the seminal Eddie Van Halen guitar solo that appeared on the band’s self titled first release. This version would be special, as the master wove a “tap”estry of some of his best instrumental pieces including “Cathedral” and “Spanish Fly” into the showcase, demonstrating the innovative skills and techniques that have made Eddie Van Halen the guitar standard by which all rock guitarists are judged for the last 35 plus years.
The rest of the band returned for a rousing rendition of “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love” followed by the evening’s closer “Jump”, complete with showers of confetti throughout the arena.
While this tour may be to promote A Different Kind of Truth, what it may really be doing is reinforcing something the world has known for the last 35 plus years. There aren’t many artists that can remotely compare to a live Van Halen show…that’s the truth.