Thursday, May 10, 2012

Van Halen Dances The Night Away in Charlotte, NC

My ticket to my very first Van Halen show years ago cost me $7.00. I pointed this out to my show as I paid $10.00 just to park at their recent show in Charlotte, NC on April 25 at the Time Warner Cable Arena. We made our way into the beautiful arena and passed a large group of religious protestors outside who proceeded to tell us that we were going to burn for listening to the devil’s music. Van Halen? Seriously? I never really thought of Van Halen back then or even today as the devil’s music. I wonder if the devil plays a mean air guitar.

I have read so much negativity online for having Kool and the Gang open up on this tour. They looked and sounded great and really got the crowd in a party kind of mood. A good part of the crowd was up and dancing and really enjoying it. I think it was an excellent choice to get the crowd loosened up and ready for a night of great music and partying.

Van Halen opened the show with “Unchained” and they looked and sounded great! There was a huge video screen behind the band that seemed as big as an old drive-in theater that they utilized all night long. They mixed live footage along with pre-recorded footage and images. “Running with the Devil” was next and the crowd was up and singing the entire time.

There were some deeper cuts being played that night which included “The Full Bug” from Diver Down and “Hear About it Later” from Fair Warning. They also played a few newer tracks from their new album A Different Kind of Truth including “Tattoo” and “She’s the Woman”. The majority of the night was like a greatest hits show; “You Really Got Me”, “Beautiful Girls”, “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” and more. There was one massive signature Van Halen song after another with no Van Hagar songs in sight.

Alex Van Halen was and still is a beast on the drums and yes, there was a short drum solo too. Wolfie Van Halen is really good on the bass, but his back-up vocals fall flat in my opinion. Michael Anthony’s signature backing vocals, which were a huge part in the early sound of Van Halen, are sorely missed in the live show. “You Really Got Me” and “Dance the Night Away” were two prime examples of that.

As far as Eddie goes, the guy is playing like a beast. I read an interview with him in which he stated the only way that he was going to tour would be if his son Wolfie was in the band. It seems to have ignited a creative fire in him and he’s playing with more intensity than he has in years. His solo was pretty incredible too! A double edged sword: I miss Michael Anthony a lot, but it’s great to see Eddie so alive again.

As far as Diamond David Lee Roth goes, there’s good and bad there. He is still Captain Charisma and knows how to work a room. His vocals weren’t what they used to be on some songs, but on others he was dead on. We were treated to a couple of splits and a couple of round house kicks too. Is it just me or is Dave looking a lot like Steve Martin these days?

Overall, it was a really good show. They ended it with”Jump” and a shower of confetti fell over the arena. I had two personal complaints about the show. One was the overuse of the same pre-recorded footage and images on the big screen. It seems like they could have prepared more than what they had because mid-way through the show, it was becoming boring. The other complaint was that I really wanted to hear “Jamie’s Crying”, “And the Cradle Will Rock” and “Drop Dead Legs”; none of which were performed. They guys may not move like they used to and the vocals have faltered a bit, but it still beats so much of the new stuff out there today.

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