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Van Halen: 125 Minutes Live

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!

vanhalenwide_wm.JPGI’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
Romeo Delight
Somebody Get Me a Doctor
Beautiful Girls
Dance the Night Away
Atomic Punk
Everybody Wants Some
So This Is Love?
Mean Street
Oh, Pretty Woman
Drum Solo
I'll Wait
And the Cradle Will Rock
Hot for Teacher
Little Dreamer
Little Guitars
Jamie's Cryin'
Ice Cream Man (both acoustic and electric)
Eruption/Guitar Solo
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love

DLroth_wm.JPGDiamond 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.

eddieguitar_wm.JPGMy 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.

vanhalenwide2_wm.JPGAs 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.

Reader Comments (24)

We were at two different shows. Dave cannot hit any of the high notes and he walks around like my grandfather.

Eddie was good but he has played the same solo for 30 years now.

Mike was sorely missed.

This is a cash-grab and little else. Very disappointing show.
October 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSteve
WOW! Ouch at Steve's comments above.
"Welcome to the show. We’re three-fourths original and one-quarter inevitable."

Totally Dave, but totally canned. He was saying this during the four "private" rehearsals at the Forum in L.A. last month too.

But nevertheless, I'm SO excited to see this show here in NYC in November. SO excited. I listened to 1984 on vinyl last week and oh man... oh man. Thanks for the review, Allyson.

October 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterVince Neilstein
I'd like to see Steve's grandfather do those roundhouse kicks.

Dave's live vocals are the best they ever have been
(I was at the Oct 1st show BTW)----Steve is gunning
for VH----well, good luck Steve, the "real" reviews
are virtually unanimously saying the performances and
show are great.
October 15, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterniceboysdon'tsludge
Wow - SO jealous right now. It's always been true that everything Dave says on stage is canned ( and most of it stolen from Jim Dandy ), but it works for him, and I still wish I'd seen it.

October 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristian Graus
I am the biggest VH fan on Earth. I bought 8 tickets in the third row. I was hoping the clips I had seen on youtube were an abberation but sadly, it was not.

They were just going through the motions. We witnessed Wolfie on several occasions with both hands off his bass while still hearing bass notes being played. That was sad. Same thing with his vocals at times.
Dave would walk around preening while trying his very best ( I appreciate his effort) but failing miserably to hit the notes that matter.

My husband and I have seen every Dave VH Tour they have ever done. This time, along with 5 friends I brought my 17 year old son ( who LOVES) the albums.

My son summed it up best when I asked him what he thought.
"They were ok. I wish they could play the songs like the albums."

This is a great show to see if you are a kid and never got to see them before. If you are a real fan however, at least you have your memories of what a real VH show was like.

I would give this show 3 out of 10 stars.
October 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristie
Wow - he's not actually playing the bass ? Are you sure ? I'm not surprised with the vocals, did it sound like MA ? I mean, they have the master tapes and all. I had heard they were going to use them to get the backing vocals.

But, apart from that, your main comment is that Dave's voice was shot ? I have to say, no live clip of DLR era VH has had terribly good live vocals from him, were they ever like the record ?

October 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristian Graus
Sounds like it was a great show and I'm glad you had a good tme!
October 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenteraXe mAn
I didn't think it was a bad show but it wasn't very good either.

I do agree with the lack of energy from Dave. He just walks around as if he was in the park. A few tired kicks here and there was all you had to remember the old Dave by. I didn't mind that he sounded bad ( he was never much of a live singer) but he used to be a great showman.

I'm still glad I went, but I would never go see this again.
October 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterTom
Can't wait for the Aussie leg of this tour!!!

That is if they don't kill each other before those dates are announced.

Any bets on how long the the current VH Tour will last?
October 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBillyKiss
Now we have "Christie" above making it sound like VH
with Roth used to sound like "the albums" back in the
day....which we know is NOT the case

add to that, that Roth is singing the VH songs more
accurately in 2007 than he EVER has in his career
and all I get out of Christie's post is that her,
nor her son have anything resembling "a clue"
October 15, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterniceboysdon'tsludge
While I agree that Dave never could sing well live, he was ok at this show. He did lack any real energy but he was just being 'Dave'.

I think people are judging this way too harshly. If you came to the Fieldhouse to see something other than a nostalgia act, you are an idiot.

They are in their 50's and doing what they enjoy. Is it an INCREDIBLE show? No. Is it at all the same energy as 25 years ago? Of course not. It is three quarters of VH which is still fun, even half-ass.
October 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRobert
Billy, you're kidding right ? I doubt they will come out here.
October 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristian Graus
i'm very excited now, I've heard nothing but Good Stuff about this tour!
October 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterThe Sexy Armpit
Glad you enjoyed the show! Your review is not unlike the one I posted on my site last week from Cleveland (albeit much shorter LOL). Great minds think alike eh? Of course we are talking Van Halen and it's always been, "[insert your city here] You guys are kicking my ass!"

As for the Jim Dandy reference...Dave stole his look and stage moves from Black Oak Arkansas frontman, but not his stage rap. I am glad that the drunken buffoonary of Dave isn't previlent this go round though. Seems Dave is more concerned about the vocals than the "Diamond Dave" persona from "those crazy days gone by" oooh ooooh Little dreamer!
Peace and Love,
Sweet Lou.
October 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSweet :pi
Lots of mixed thoughts on this one. I decided to skip this round of the tour because the ticket prices were far beyond ridiculous. 150 a ticket? Forget it. I won't pay those prices for any band, ever. I would rather see 6 or 7 good low dough shows, than one over priced gig, VH or not.
I have to agree with Rob, many mixed reviews online. The positive ones are glowing and the negative absolutely crucify the band. I'm a huge DLR-era VH fan and I would really like to see this tour but I was priced out, I can't justify the $150 a ticket. I realize I could buy a lesser seat but what's the point of going if you can't see it? I'm hoping for a second round of shows, maybe in the Summer. I'm putting $150 away at tax refund time just in case, money I'd never see.

As far as the performances, I wasn't there but I've seen VH live and it's true that EVH plays the same solo everytime. There was a pre-tour leak that said the band would use backing tapes to supplement the sound and DLR's voice has always been a crapshoot live. I saw Dave solo many times and he was always hit or miss in concert.

If this were 1996, after the MTV Awards, I would have paid the $150 and been as psyched as I was for the KISS reunion.....but it's 10 years later and I'm not as up for this tour. I'll give the guys a pass, they are older, maybe not wiser, and Wolfgang is still a kid.

BTW, name any reunion that isn't a cash grab! They all are.
Rob, I envy you. I paid $130 for Motorhead last week ( and got into a fight for my trouble ), I paid $450 to see MAiden three times next year. Ratt/Winger is only $70, b/c it's just in a club ( I'm not going, I was at Rocklahma and I am too busy to fly to the mainland to see it ), but as a rule, $100+ is what shows cost down under.
October 16, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterChristian Graus
How was the opener Ky-Mani Marley? Seems like an odd choice for an opening act if you ask me.
October 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
steve has the right idea

who ever wrote this article clearly has low musical expectations

eddie CANNOT play the guitar any more an definitely not as good as his younger years

he couldnt nail one part in eruption good an COULDNT EVEN KEEP THE CORD IN HIS GUITAR

even wolfgang said it which caused him to drop out of the
band after the concert i was at which also caused them to postpone some performances

i will agree that he is the best guitarist of all time

i love van halen
but this tour was the worst concert ive even been to an a waste of money

apparently theyre jus lookin for some retirement money id sadly have to say
May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

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