Live Review: Van Halen - The Izod Center, New Jersey
Wed, 14 May 2008 08:03:42
They said it would never happen, the "they" being rock critics, rock fans and the members of
Van Halen themselves. But never is a long, long time and not even the most diehard fans were going to wait forever to see prodigal frontman, the one-man comedy show known as David Lee Roth patch up his famous differences with Eddie Van Halen, arguably one of the top three guitarists of all time.
The dynamic duo of Diamond Dave and Fast Eddie pulled the hatchets out of each other's backs and buried them, embarking on this hotly anticipated reunion tour, leaving Roth's longest replacement, Sammy Hagar to choke on the dust. Roth is larger than life, whereas Hager is life-sized, making for two completely different versions of Van Halen. This tour represents the classic, iconic era of VH, with Roth's leg kicks and vocal gibberish acting as the perfect complement to Eddie's two-handed tapping.
Sadly, there was a severe lack of energy and chemistry on stage at the Izod Center (formerly The Meadowlands) just 11 miles outside of New York City on May 13. Yes, Eddie can still shred, and Dave still attempts his spin kicks while missing a few notes here and there. Yes, Eddie's 16-year-old son, Wolfie, does an excellent job filling in for longtime bassist Michael Anthony, who left the fold to play with the exiled Hagar, and exhibits a deft handle on the band's patented harmonizing. But maybe it's the other issues–age, personal issues that caused this and a handful of other dates to be postponed and rescheduled and the absence of an original member thus negating the true classic lineup- that drained this reunion that we so desperately wanted to be fantastic.
A huge "S" shaped walkway protruded from the stage into the crowd and seemed perfect for the guys to run out and interact with fans to do a little rawkin' out, but it was only DLR who ventured onto the "S" for a few minutes here and there. No one entertains DLR more than DLR and he was having a good time, as usual. He embarked on a few costume changes-he traded different colored Matador jackets, which he paired with skin hugging leather jeans-as though he was doing a Vegas show. The set list was the parade of fan favorites: opening with "You Really Got Me" and sailing through "Runnin' With the Devil," "Atomic Punk," "Jamie's Cryin'," "Beautiful Girls," "Dance The Night Away," "Unchained," Everybody Wants Some" into their biggest radio smashes, "Panama" and "Jump." The band more than satiated fan appetites for the hits. While DLR and EVH had some minor interaction on stage, there wasn't that lightning rod of energy and tension one would expect.
That's not to say we think that the guys are up there collecting a check. There is no doubt Ed can still shred his way through "Eruption." Sure, now is the smart time to cash in on reuniting with the original singer, since you want to do it while fans still care and can still rock out with their you-know-whats out. We just wish they would have sizzled and crackled like the days of old, doing something to release more vibes, words, expressions, hormones or whatever to fully incite and integrate themselves and the crowd.
Maybe next time? Could Michael Anthony be the catalyst? Will there even be a next time? Those questions keep us interested and will continue to put our asses in those seats.
— Amy Sciarretto