From Calgary Sun:
Maybe you can turn back the hands of time to 1984 — if only for a couple of hours.
Although Sammy Hagar is a good singer, so-so songwriter, solid frontman and expert tequila maker, Van Halen was never really Van Halen without David Lee Roth. It’s true.
At 57 years of age, the clown prince of rock ’n’ roll hijinx, shenanigans and tomfoolery was actually in fine form Wednesday night.
Unlike Hagar, Diamond Dave was never much of a singer, but for some reason or another … it’s never really mattered. And it didn’t Wednesday.
The verticals of his patented flying scissor kicks aren’t quite what they used to be, but Roth brought the excited Calgary classic rock contingent to its collective feet as he first appeared on the massive minimalist stage and launched in the quick one-two punch of Unchained from 1981’s Fair Warning and Runnin’ With The Devil from the still outstanding self-titled 1978 debut.
Resplendent in black sequined jacket, pants and white scarf, Roth could barely contain himself.
“We’re off to a flying start tonight, Calgary!” he bellowed to raucous applause in front of the giant LED video screen.
Flanked by bassist Wolfgang Van Halen, Uncle Alex on drums and dear old dad, Eddie, on guitar, the tales of internal dysfunction and destruction seem to be a thing of the past.
Touring behind the first new Van Halen record in 14 years — and the first with Roth in 28 — the key players of Roth and Eddie Van Halen seem committed, fit, healthy, disease-free and even … happy.
For all of his mad genius guitar histrionics, flakiness and overall craziness, Eddie remains one of the great rock guitarists of all time. Some 35 years after forming the band in Pasadena, Calif., his style and techniques are still oft-imitated, but never duplicated.
He smiled brightly while finger-tapping his way through She’s The Woman, first single, Tattoo, from the new A Different Kind Of Truth album, Everybody Wants Some!! from Women and Children First and Somebody Get Me A Doctor from the second album. After all, it wasn’t like we were going to be hearing anything 5150 or OU812.
The interplay and chemistry between father and son was as effective as it was, er, heart-warming. The kid can play and the harmonies of Wolfgang and Eddie often overshadowed Diamond Dave. Is it live or is it Memorex? You be the judge. Unfortunately live sometimes just isn’t live anymore.
The band poured it on through Hear About It Later, the Roy Orbison nugget Oh, Pretty Woman, its second most famous cover of the Kinks’ You Really Got Me, and Dance The Night Away from Van Halen II. Indeed, these were the tunes everyone came to hear.
The crowd was far from ready to go home as the group pulled out Beautiful Girls, Ice Cream Man and Panama.
It wouldn’t be an old-school Van Halen throwdown without a 10-minute guitar solo, and EVH provided the flash and substance as only he can. Eruption — man, forget about it. This guy is still really something.
The show had yet to conclude at press time, but, not surprisingly, every show on the current tour has ended with Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love and, of course, Jump.