Van Halen is back on the tour trail. Last night the legendary band stopped in Cincinnati and I attended the show with Eric and Heather. You might recall I saw the band around seven months ago in Indianapolis. This time I had "cheap" seats, but the view wasn't bad and the sound was awesome. The show was not sold-out and I would say U.S. Bank Arena was about 80% full. The crowd was also quite different from the October Indianapolis show. While the Indianapolis crowd was immediately rowdy, it took a few songs for the Cincinnati fans to warm-up. After "Runnin' with the Devil" the crowd was ready to rock. Van Halen with David Lee Roth performed their classic tunes, including:
You Really Got Me
Runnin' With the Devil
Somebody Get Me a Doctor
Dance the Night Away
Everybody Wants Some
Oh, Pretty Woman
And the Cradle Will Rock
Hot for Teacher
Ice Cream Man (both acoustic and electric)
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
I have to say this show was more sonically pleasing than my first go-around in Indianapolis. The acoustics are better inside U.S. Bank Arena, so that was a major plus. I did notice, however, that the band didn't seem as tight as before. Perhaps the wear of the road is making them tired or maybe they are just going through the motions at this point. It wasn't more than a month ago the remaining Van Halen tour dates were cancelled - then rescheduled - because Eddie had a mystery illness (rehab?) that needed immediate attention. Even if Eddie, Alex, Wolfgang and Diamond Dave were a little sluggish, there was still a general note of camaraderie.
I must admit Eddie sounded good on the guitar. That might seem like a gross understatement, but there were dates on this reunion tour where he completely fell apart. Sure there were missteps and miscues all night by just about everyone - save Wolfgang - but Eddie seemed ready to perform. That's a good thing since that's what the paying crowd came to see.
My favorite parts of the show were "Runnin' with the Devil" and "Unchained." I've always thought these are two of the best songs of the entire, extensive Van Halen catalog. Hearing them performed live is an extra treat. It was also cool to learn Valerie Bertinelli was in attendance. I saw her sitting at the sound-board with binoculars.
I'm going to count my night with Van Halen as the official start of the concert season. Hooray!