Press play on the video below, and then sit down. Or, you might want to stand up and go crazy.
On this day in 1981, The Mighty Van Halen performed at the Greensboro Coliseum. There’s an audio recording of this amazing concert. It’s one of the better-sounding audience recordings of the Fair Warning tour.
But hold on a sec, we want to set this up first. This concert was unique. Right at the beginning of the opening song, “On Fire,” the band had some sort of technical difficulty and was forced to stall and improvise until they were able to restart the song. The resulting spontaneous jam is pretty cool to hear!
Two videos are embedded below. The first is the audio of “On Fire” with the improv jam, set to various audience-shot footage from the old days. The guy who made the video did a good job of pairing the footage to the Greensboro audio.
The second video is simply the full concert. It’s audio-only.
The Van Halen bootleg enthusiast who created the “On Fire” video sets it up perfectly on his youtube channel, so we’ll let him describe what this video is:
“Van Halen was well into their Fair Warning Tour on August 25, 1981 playing in Greensboro, NC for about 23,000 fans. Thanks to one intrepid fan we have an audio record of this night. That recording is considered one of the better-sounding boots of the 1981 tour.
“First, this audience recording stands as one of the cleaner, low distortion, boots from this tour. About a year ago I discovered the recording on a bootleg site. I heard some of the 1981 shows, and was aware of the limited Fair Warning tour video footage. When I first heard the Greensboro audience recording I was blown away! What was so unique about this show, great audio aside, was the intro to “On Fire” during the opening of the show. This seemed to be the only time that they jammed on the song, especially as an opener. The likely scenario seems to be that Mike may have been having problems with his rig, and Ed and Al were forced to improvise. If you listen carefully, I don’t hear Mikey (clearly) during most of the jam. I could be wrong though.
“I dug this recording so much that I wanted to create a video to go along with it. I guess you could call it a bootleg showcase. I took the elements from about 6 sources available on YouTube and edited them to the audio from that unique 1981 show.
“Though the first part of the video had no possible video to use, since this is a one-off jam, I tried to match existing footage as much as possible. But, since there is plenty of live footage of “On Fire,” I was able to sync (close to) frame-accurate footage to the existing audio from 2:00 to the end of the song.
“I hope this clip reminds us that there is still some amazing, undiscovered, footage out there. Maybe someday someone will truly “Rape The Vaults” and reveal some long lost hidden gems…
“So this is my Greensboro “On Fire” Video Mashup. Hope you enjoy!”
“On Fire” improvisation:
Listen to the full Greensboro concert below. It’s AMAZING:
1. On Fire
2. Sinner’s Swing
3. Drum solo
4. Hear About it Later
5. So This is Love?
6. Jamie’s Crying
7. Bass solo
8. Running with the Devil
9. Dance the Night Away
10. Sunday Afternoon in the Park
11. Romeo Delight
12. Everybody Wants Some
13. Sounds of Summer
14. Ice Cream Man
15. Mean Street
16. Guitar solo
17. Feel Your Love Tonight
18. You Really Got Me
20. Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love
Lastly, the three photos in this article are from this night *August 25th, 1981), by Jim Talbott.
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