From The Orange County Register:
“You’re getting a good show tonight!” David Lee Roth declared early during the Anaheim set.
It wasn’t an empty boast: Roth was very much on his game here.
Yes, he’ll fiddle with the meter of a line or switch up a lyric here and there, but he takes no more liberties than Mick Jagger does with Stones staples or Steven Tyler would with Aerosmith’s finest. He’s entitled to mix it up, and seeing as he proved again and again in Anaheim how easily he can nail high notes (he superbly scatted several times in his upper register), it would seem that only fatigue or laziness could explain his less-stellar L.A. performances. At Honda Center he was occasionally imprecise but not because he couldn’t execute the songs; it was a conscious choice.
Why’d he turn his booster jets on for this show, with even wilder roundhouse kicks and better-timed asides to the cameras capturing every moment for a (mostly) black-and-white video backdrop? Beats me.
Tuesday night David Lee Roth was the same Diamond Dave I idolized as a teenager: fleet-footed like a hard-rock Fred Astaire, shimmying and sliding across the stage, pouring his permanent-playboy persona into every song without letting that gum up the sheer force of raucous chants like “Everybody Wants Some!!” and “Hot for Teacher” and more boot-stomping bits like “And the Cradle Will Rock …” and “Runnin’ with the Devil.”
Whenever he’d get too caught up in his own reinterpretation, Van Halen’s three namesakes just blasted ahead, rhythmically rubber-band-tight and greatly bolstering every hollered yet harmonized chorus.
They seized attention with “Unchained.” They thundered away on “Somebody Get Me a Doctor” and a remarkable blitz through “Hot for Teacher.” They kept their solos either powerfully brief (in Alex’s case) and filled with phenomenal virtuosity (Ed’s spotlight, incorporating “Eruption” and “Little Guitars” and more, was utterly dazzling, a master at play). They included nearly every song they should have — “Jamie’s Crying” and “So This Is Love?” were noticeably absent — but they made that Women and Children First gem “Romeo Delight” feel like a new song while playing Truth tracks like “Tattoo” and “China Town” as if they’d be in the catalog all along … which, seeing as some date back to the ’70s, they had.
Frankly, there are few happier sights these days on a concert stage than seeing the Van Halen family rockin’ away with one of the most memorable frontmen any group has ever had. He’s still got it, they’re as solid as ever – and here’s hoping they get some much-needed rest so that this no-longer-tentative return can carry on.
Kool and the Gang, meanwhile, were an inspired choice for warm-up act. By set’s end, people who back in the day wouldn’t have been caught dead humming along to “Celebration” were shouting “woo-hoo!” as if their best friends had just been married. Indeed, the crowd was up and grooving well before then, dancing enthusiastically to certifiable funk classics like “Hollywood Swinging” and “Jungle Boogie” and heartily responding when “Get Down on It” added in guitar flavors à la Ernie Isley.
Kudos to Roth for insisting the Gang tag along: What seemed like a misstep on paper has turned out to be one of the smartest arena-level pairings in years.