This past Friday I was lucky enough to be second row, dead center, for Van Halen at Madison Square Garden on the last leg of their reunion tour with David Lee Roth.
Fucking. AWESOME. WOW!!! I have never heard the Garden so loud!
Our ticket package included a little backstage tour beforehand where they took us to the side of the stage under a little tent where Ed’s guitar tech hangs out during the show, adjusts all the amps and monitors as necessary, hands him a guitar when he switches guitars, etc. It was a group of about 20 of us on this little tour, and when we stopped at that little tent the guitar tech started explaining what he does, how Eddie likes things set up, how he’s got his own line of guitars and is constantly testing new prototypes, etc. Then he reached into a cabinet and pulled out one of the 6 guitars that Eddie uses during a show, the famous red and white striped one, which was out of view of us until he pulled it out, and the whole group simultaneously went, “Oooooooooooooooooooohhhhhhh!!” Very cool.
I learned my lesson from seeing them back in November on this tour and I used earplugs this time. They have been INCREDIBLY loud on this tour. I don’t know how the guys themselves are not completely deaf by now.
Anyway, it was a totally, ridiculously, insanely “on” night for Eddie. When he’s “on” you find yourself stopping once in a while, turning to your friend and saying (well – shouting), “There’s just no NEED for him to be THIS good!! He is riDICulous!!!”
Dave is actually singing almost all the words nowadays, which he never used to do in the old days, and just as importantely, he’s singing WELL. His voice hasn’t changed one bit. He doesn’t do the crazy jumping splits high off the drum riser like he used to (the guy’s about 52 or 53) but he still does the occasional spinning high kick, lots of martial arts/dance moves and he twirls the microphone stand like a fucking ninja. VERY cool. He and Ed looked genuinely happy as could be and were playing off each other all night. Oh, and Dave, despite being in his fifties, has some truly ripped abs. To the point where I envy him. The guy is no joke.
The set list was every single hit from the Dave era, plus a lot of their better deep cuts like Mean Street, Romeo Delight, I’m the One, etc., etc. They absolutely knocked Hot for Teacher out of the park, which must be a bitch to play but Eddie and Alex nailed it. During a couple of their songs they would segway into a cover tune (like Crossroads, Magic Bus, Sunshine of Your Love) and then segway back into their original song.
I’ll post a bunch of pics and HOPEFULLY a video of part of Eddie’s solo, including Eruption (or parts of it) if I can get it to work. Give me some time.
Oh, and definitely catch them if they’re in your neck of the woods before this tour ends!!