Van Halen @ Xcel Energy Center

Van Halen are one of the few classic bands that I would even consider seeing live now.  So when they finally got around to reuniting with David Lee Roth and setting up a proper tour, I had to go.  Now, if they had reunited with Sammy Hagar, I doubt I would have even considered it.  Initially I was a little skeptical about how they'd sound, specifically how DLR would sound.  But when really positive reviews were coming out about their initial club shows, that pretty much sealed the deal for me.  I was lucky to have a buddy willing to go with me too.

Before the show we looked up the set list of a previous show.  We were pretty happy with what we saw.  It was very heavy on early album songs with a drum solo and guitar solo.  They kicked it off with Unchained, which is one of my favorites.  Unfortunately, it didn't come off as explosive as it should have.  I think they looked nervous, and shaky.  Luckily within a couple songs they started to really warm up.  That's not to say it was perfect.  Understandably this isn't the same show you'd see in 1984.  But wow, DLR has a really hard time keeping up with the lyrics.  Initially I was really worried because he was speaking all the words to the songs.  Not singing, but speaking.  They really depended a lot on Eddie and Wolfgang for singing.  DLR played more like a hype man or backup singer role.  Strangely he could still hit the high notes but he chose the oddest times to do it, and not when you'd think he would.  I think if he just sang the songs like they were suppose to be sung, it would have sounded great.  Instead he did what he did, which was not great.  

The drum solo was something I was pretty pumped to see.  It was both the opposite of what I hoped it would be, and also the more I thought about it, exactly what I should have expected.  To be honest, I'm not even sure Alex played for most of it.  They had some bizarre Miami inspired lights and accompanying track.  It wasn't until they cut that, that it actually sounded like he was really playing.  Pretty disappointing.

Probably the biggest, although, not the only, WTF moment of the show, was David Lee Roth's acoustic guitar solo/intro to Ice Cream Man.  They showed this video of his dogs and he explained how he's a professional dog handler and how they can heard sheep.  He's also hoping to tour Europe soon with these dogs.  I really failed to see how this seemed like a good idea for an arena rock show.  It was just so random and I would have never thought I'd see something like that at a concert.  It really felt like a infomercial of some sort. WTF, indeed.

The guitar solo on the other hand was exactly what I'd hoped it would be.  I wouldn't' be surprised if it was the same solo you'd see in the 70s or 80s.  It was amazing.  For a 50+ year old guy, it's amazing what Eddie is still capable of doing.  

I'm glad I went.  I saw some of my favorite songs ever, performed live.  And hey, most of them sounded pretty good too. ;)




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