Saturday, May 12, 2012

Some Things Never Change

Well, my favorite band of all time blew into Nashville on April 27, 2012 and I was definitely there.  Yes, Van Halen returned to Nashville after a long time - so long that the last time they were here, it was at Starwood and Gary Cherone was lead singer (insert full body shudder).  The best I can determine is that it was 1998.  Since then, Gary left, Dave came back (for an awards show), Dave left, Sammy came back, Sammy left, and then Dave came back.  It is enough to make you dizzy.

I will let you know my pre-show biases - I am a Sammy Hagar fan, even though I have been a Van Halen fan since the late 70's when VH I came out.  I think Sammy brings more musically to the group while Dave brings showmanship and little musically.  I also think that the band hosed Michael Anthony when he was dumped after the Sammy reunion tour in 2004 even though I understand Eddie wants to share the stage with his son.

My youngest son, Kyle, attended the show with me at Bridgestone.  He was super pumped to see the show and I don't think he could have been kept away.  We were lucky enough to see the show from a suite with my long time Van Halen running  buddy Joe.  Joe & I grew up together and have traveled all over the Southeast to see the band since the Fair Warning tour.  Unbeknownst to us, two other high school classmates were in the suite.  It was almost just like 1982 all over again.

The opening act was puzzling to say the least until they took the stage - Kool & the Gang.  Yes, Kool & the Gang.  When they started (kudos for prompt start), there were probably only a few more folks in the seats than on the stage.  K&G had 11 folks on stage who were either playing instruments, singing, or just standing there dancing.  These guys can take a song and stretch it to about 8 minutes with various sing-alongs and solos.  I would venture to say there was maybe one or two folks in the band who were there during their rise to fame and I never figured out which one was Kool.   Even so, they provided a high energy show chocked full of hits, including some that I had forgotten.   
  • Fresh
  • Tonight
  • Emergency
  • Misled
  • Too Hot
  • Hollywood Swinging
  • Jungle Boogie
  • Ladies Night
  • Get Down on It
  • Celebrate
After the preliminaries were complete, it was time to get on with the show.  On a very simple stage (except for the drive-in theater sized screen behind the stage), Van Halen had returned to Nashville.  From the start, the energy of the crowd was pegged out and the rock & roll was LOUD!!! Some observations from that night:

Eddie played the best I have seen in many years, if ever.  I attribute it to the fact that he is sober and focused on the music.  He really looked like he was having fun, especially playing with his son and brother at the same time.  He definitely gets the highest marks of the nigh.t

Wolfgang held his own.  He played good solid base & looked like he belonged up there with his Dad.  I had read that he is the one who encouraged Eddie to dust off a lot of the early deep cuts.  If so, thanks Wolfie!! 

Alex provided the same great beat that he always has provided.  His drum solo was surprisingly short and included tracks for the first time that I remember.  While he has played to music (live by Eddie & M.A.) before, this was the first time that I heard percussion sounds in that music - i.e., cowbell.  He too looked like he was having fun.

Ah, guess it is time to "review" Diamond Dave.  I must attribute the title of this blog to him.  SSDD when it comes to him.  While he tried, his shtick in between songs grew old in a hurry.  He consistently missed the timing and phrasing of the songs.  He did a good job on the new songs because maybe they were more in his range than the older songs.  At one point, he went on for about 5 minutes about his herding dogs, complete with video footage.  DLR had a little hardwood dance stage on the main stage where he pranced and did his moves throughout the night.  At one point he asked for it to be wiped down and when no one appeared, he asked again.  Finally, during Panama, he asked for the "[bleep] stage to be wiped".  Reminded me of a spoiled little rich kid.

Speaking of footage, the previously mentioned drive-in sized screen was used to show black & white live footage for most of the show.  The other times were small video clips with the predominant subject being Diamond Dave.  If Dave executed one of his kicks or jumps, the screen would slow that again in slow motion.  Obviously, the video feed guy was on Dave's payroll.

Despite Diamond Dave's shortcomings on vocals, the rest of the guys marched on through the songs.  If DLR missed a lyric or timing, they just kept playing and let him jump in, rather than waiting on him.  Reminded me very much of a drunken businessman singing karaoke in a bar.  At one point on the drum riser were Eddie, Alex (of course), and Wolfie.  Three Van Halens and two generations playing Van Halen music - quite a sight.  The songs were a good mix of the new ones and some great oldies, including some deep classics (Romeo Delight & Hear About It Later).  Here is the set list:
  • Unchained
  • Runnin' With the Devil
  • She's the Woman
  • Romeo Delight
  • Tattoo
  • Everybody Wants Some!!
  • Somebody Get Me a Doctor
  • China Town
  • Hear About It Later
  • Oh, Pretty Woman
  • Drum Solo
  • You Really Got Me
  • The Trouble with Never
  • Dance the Night Away
  • I'll Wait
  • Hot for Teacher
  • Women In Love
  • Girl Gone Bad
  • Beautiful Girls
  • Ice Cream Man
  • Panama
  • Guitar Solo
  • Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
  • Jump
I must say, it was a great show,   Wolfgang rose a lot in my book (like he is worried about that) and DLR gets an E for effort, but doesn't really rise any positions.  Eddie - what can I say?  The man was on his game and proved why he is revered as one of the all time great guitar players.
Remember, if it is too loud, you are too old!
Zach, A Rockin' Tennessee Squire

1 comment:

  1. Good Review Zach!

    Thanks for reviewing the entire night and not just the Van Halen show. I liked the part about the Kareoke Buisnessman... Too Funny!

    Mike Arnold
    Concert Blast