Who: Van Halen, plus me, Eric and thousands of our closest friends.
What: Van Halen “reunion” tour, featuring David Lee Roth on vocals, Wolfgang Van Halen on bass, Eddie Van Halen on guitar, and Alex Van Halen on drums.
When: Sunday, October 14, 2007. 8:30 p.m.
Where: Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Why: This tour is legendary!
How: Good credit. Thanks MasterCard!
I’ve been looking forward to my chance to see Van Halen live for months now. The “on-again, off-again” tour has put of the rock world on edge, and now it seems things might actually be halfway decent in the Van Halen camp. By the time the band took the stage, the crowd was rowdy and ready to go. These people wanted their Van Halen! The set list seemed pretty similar to the one leaked on the Internet around a month ago. Here’s what the mighty Van Halen performed:
You Really Got Me
I’m the One
Runnin' With the Devil
Somebody Get Me a Doctor
Dance the Night Away
Everybody Wants Some
So This Is Love?
Oh, Pretty Woman
And the Cradle Will Rock
Hot for Teacher
Ice Cream Man (both acoustic and electric)
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
Diamond Dave acted as ringmaster, and wore about a six different circus-style top hats throughout the show. He was in his element last night, and he seemed to be having the time of his life. That man has a huge smile, which makes me wonder if he wears dentures, but I digress. He did say “Look at all the people here tonight!” which made the crowd go crazy. Everybody screamed, I don’t recall any laughing (at least from my section). At one point, Roth said “Welcome to the show. We’re three-fourths original and one-quarter inevitable.” This seemed to make Wolfgang smile.
I may have a crush on 16 year old Wolfgang. The boy has taken a lot of criticism, both in the real world and on the Internet, but he sure seemed to know what he was doing on stage. My favorite part of the entire show was when Wolfie took the top riser of the multi-platform stage and strummed the beginning of “Runnin’ With the Devil” with his bass outstretched over his head. I wasn’t the only one impressed: I noticed a lot of ladies screaming for the adolescent, who also proved he knows a thing or two about finger tapping a fret board.
My word, Eddie Van Halen can still play the guitar. No, he doesn’t play, he charms the instrument. Last night was an interesting exercise for me: it’s been more than a decade since I last saw Van Halen live (on the Balance tour, with Sammy Hagar singing vocals) but Eddie sounded better last night than when he was so much younger. He looked good too. Perhaps I was too young to appreciate his guitar mastery when my parents took me to see Van Halen so long ago, but I get it now. The man is a downright genius. Eddie’s solo lasted about 15 minutes. He would go in and out of “Eruption” and play other bits, striking the guitar from upside down, over his head, laying on the stage: you name it, he did it and won. It was interesting to watch the faces of the people in the capacity crowd while Eddie performed. When “Eruption” kicked into high gear, people screamed, but when Eddie moved on to improvise, the stadium went kind of silent as the crowd watched in awe. True to form, there is no living guitarist as good as Eddie Van Halen. Dare to dispute me, but I urge you to see this band live. If you do, you’ll know I’m right.
I’ve never been a gigantic fan of drum solos, but Alex Van Halen’s solo last night was pretty good. It was a decent length and he kept standing from the behind the kit to get the crowd involved, and last night he wasn’t confined to a neck brace. Still, it was a little hard to see Alex since the drum riser wasn’t all that high. I had very good seats, so I’m not sure people in the upper balconies could see the elder Van Halen very well.
Diamond Dave was his usual self, cracking jokes within songs and pushing a lot of sexual innuendo. When it was time for “Ice Cream Man,” Dave gave his bandmates a short break, and came out on stage with an acoustic guitar. He told the crowd about his Indiana roots and then started the song. It wasn’t long before Eddie made his guitar wail once again, and we were back to electric hysteria.
As an encore, “Jump” makes sense. After all, it is the band’s most famous song with Roth, and every single person inside Conseco Fieldhouse knew the words – and sang along! Even the eight year old girls in the row in front of me knew the words and jumped around…just like their parents. During “Jump,” there was a Van Halen blimp that chased Roth on stage (these same blimps circled the crowd before the show) and lots of confetti. There was a giant disco ball, and inflatable microphone emblazoned with the classic Van Halen logo. Much to my chagrin, Diamond Dave didn’t ride the microphone. Eric decided it was bigger than the one he used in all those old music videos. By the time the last chord bounced off the walls, the entire crowd was pumped. People were screaming as they exited the building…and most people agreed that the reunion was worth the cash – and the wait.