From Tulsa World:
Thirty years on, Van Halen proves it can still put on a show.
By JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
“Diamond” David Lee Roth’s trademark caterwaul may not carry the same range it did 30 years ago, but who cares? It came close. Tuesday night’s Van Halen tour stop at Tulsa’s BOK Center proved it.
Van Halen was back. Fans came to hear the original, and Roth helped give it to them. Each dressed in black, family band Alex (drums), Wolfgang (bass) and Eddie Van Halen (guitar) joined Roth for close to two hours of hedonistic rock anthems.
Roth and Eddie Van Halen often played off each other, Roth’s trademark yawp a call-and-response ritual to Eddie’s throbbing guitar riffs.
“I’ll Wait,” “Girl Gone Bad” and “Romeo Delight” melded with “Hot for Teacher,” “Panama” and “Jump.” They rocketed through their famous covers of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” and John Brim’s tasty “Ice Cream Man.” Every album was represented, though not every hit: “Hear About it Later,” “Dance the Night Away,” “Runnin’ With the Devil” and “Beautiful Girls” all made the set.
Roth, dressed in black leather, sequins and studs, had his high kicks projected large onto a two-story-tall screen. He kicked, he spun, he twirled his mic stand, he slid, he did the splits, he karate-chopped air, he cracked wise, he changed wardrobes, he postured. He reveled in pomposity.
The fans wouldn’t accept anything less. He delivered.
“I see a lot of really young kids here tonight with their parents for their first concert,” Roth said. “And I just want to let you know, this music is the reason a lot of you exist today!” he added as the crowd cheered.
Van Halen recorded two of my favorite albums: 1980’s “Women and Children First” and 1984’s seminal “1984.” The former’s a win for the unusual dexterity between its ego-blasted mix on drum, bass, vocals and guitar and the latter for its front-to-back endurance, its integration of modern electronic sounds and unabashed rock radio viability.
Both are groundbreaking in their swaggering, heady, heavy sound. Eddie Van Halen’s technique is legendary – dynamic and startling. His solos are less noodling than they are rabbitholes into an aural other dimension.
Tuesday night proved fertile terrain for Van Halen classics. During “Everybody Wants Some!,” Roth’s creepy-guy spoken-word lyrics, “This stuff isn’t going out on the Internet, honey. No. It’s just a couple of pictures. … I like the way the line runs up the back of the stockings,” became a catcall to the outrageous sexuality of rock ‘n’ roll itself. Alex Van Halen’s tribal beat electrified Wolfgang Van Halen’s detonating bass and Eddie Van Halen’s freewheeling guitar. The crowd became one with the rhythm, bouncing and singing in unity.
Van Halen’s new studio album, “A Different Kind of Truth,” dropped Feb. 7 on Interscope Records, and the first Roth-Van Halen since “1984.”
Tuesday’s concert included new music “Tattoo,” “She’s the Woman,” “The Trouble with Never” and “China Town,” packed near the front of the set, the new like a collaboration with the past – a time vehicle for with what people really came to see, which is the music that helped propel its album sales past the 75 million mark and define American rock ‘n’ roll.
Kool & the Gang opened the show with its 11-member set, funky and energetic with a roster of its classics, including “Fresh,” “Tonight,” “Too Hot,” “Get Down On It,” and “Celebration.” The bright, brassy trills and plucky bass runs of “Jungle Boogie” got fans screaming, on their feet and clapping their hands.
The band was reportedly chosen to open this tour by Roth himself. It thanked him by playing “Hollywood Swinging,” a tune Van Halen covered in its earliest days. Indeed, these are the songs almost everyone knows the words to, and they don’t necessarily know how or why.
Yes, it is an odd pairing for an arena tour, but the genre-bending time-warp readied fans with timeless music, and, to a certain extent, helped suspend reality. Kool & the Gang wrapped the arena in an envelope of nostalgia.
View the Van Halen slideshow from last night at Tulsa World.