From the Oakland Tribune
Van Halen took the stage on Sunday at the Oracle Arena, where David Lee Roth and crew delivered a thoroughly energetic, cohesive and (gulp!) professional two-hour set. Hopefully, that will again be the case when Van Halen performs Tuesday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose.
The single most striking aspect about the concert was that the band members really, truly appeared to be getting along. It could be seen in their smiles and heard in their laughter. They weren’t just simply going through the motions, on their way to another substantial payday, but rather seemed fully engaged in the moment. If they were faking it, the four players — Roth, guitarist Eddie Van Halen, bassist Wolfgang Van Halen and drummer Alex Van Halen — deserve Oscar consideration.
Working a bare-bones stage set, with the only real prop being the massive video screen located behind the musicians, Van Halen used the opening track, “Unchained,” as a kind of mission statement. The band wouldn’t hold anything back as they charged through two dozen songs, ranging from the very early hits to tracks from the new album “A Different Kind of Truth.”
Roth was buzzing with manic energy, acting every bit like a kid who’d just emptied out a candy store and then washed down his take with a case of Red Bull. He threw plenty of his famous roundhouse kicks, with his foot arching high above his head, and strutted like a peacock as he led the band through such exuberant fan favorites as “Runnin’ With the Devil” and “Everybody Wants Some!!”
Roth proved once again that he’s one of the greatest showmen in rock ‘n’ roll history — and, by far, the best of the three frontmen to lead Van Halen during its 40-year career. If he’d been born in an earlier era, Roth would’ve surely been a song-and-dance man. At 57, he’s got the moves like Jagger, a still-strong singing voice and an incredible knack for shtick and stories.
The band does have the personnel. Alex Van Halen is a monster drummer, Wolfgang (son of Eddie) Van Halen is a more than serviceable replacement for former bassist Michael Anthony and Diamond Dave is Diamond Dave.
Then, of course, there’s Eddie, who is nothing less than a magician on the frets. His signature solo on “Eruption” — which he played late in the show on Sunday — should be on every classic rock fan’s bucket list.
Kool and the Gang — the funk-soul-R&B band known for such ’70s hits as “Jungle Boogie” and “Ladies’ Night” — was the inspired choice for Van Halen’s opening act. One can only hope this will start a trend and we’ll see more genre-hopping tours in the near future.
Watch Dave’s hysterical rap in the middle of “Everybody Wants Some” in Oakland, below.