Last night at Madison Square Garden it felt like Van Hagar never existed. Dave, Alex, Eddie, and Wolfgang joined forces to bring fans a reunion tour. I know, I know…we all loved Michael Anthony but honestly, no disrespect, but I think all 20 some odd thousand of us were jam packed into the world’s most famous arena to rekindle our romance with the classic chemistry between Diamond Dave and Eddie Van Halen. There must’ve been a huge payoff because I would’ve never known these guys ever had a modicum of animosity toward each other by watching them on stage last night. The fact that David Lee Roth and Eddie and Alex Van Halen were nowhere in sight at their own Rock Hall induction ceremony didn’t even enter my mind. For me, this concert far surpassed any acceptance speech. Van Halen relentlessly pummeled their astonished audience with classics like “Everybody Wants Some,” “So This Is Love,” and “Mean Streets.”
I desperately want to be cliche and say that I took a time machine back to ’84 and that absolutely nothing has changed with VH, but it has, and it’s kind of impressive. Eddie’s a bit older now and reminds me of David Letterman, but he’s every bit the virtuoso he always was and that’s an understatement. If you’ve never witnessed Eddie Van Halen’s guitar execution it’s literally mind blowing. So, regarding Eddie being awesome on guitar, then it’s still ’84. He made that guitar his bitch and he did things you didn’t even know were possible with a guitar! It was like he studied the ancient art of Guitarma Sutra. Diamond Dave is still the master of ceremonies and a stellar showman, so that part is still the same. He’s opted NOT to wear spandex, tassels, or rock big hair, but he’s still twirling his mic stand and doing his random patented A.D.D spin kicks. Gotta love him…after all, he IS your Ice Cream man and he’s way more ripped than you!
To feel mesmerized at a concert if you’re not high is pretty remarkable. I just stood there letting these classic VH songs that I grew up with unfold before my eyes. I did get to hear alot of these songs when Van Halen toured with Gary Cherone, but this is really what many fans have been waiting 20 years for. With “Beautiful Girls” and “Somebody Get Me a Doctor,” the band’s chemistry just felt right, and not forced at all. That’s why I find it so strange why so many writer’s and critics are spreading the opposite word around. This show was as f’n organic as the pot in the audience that was giving me a contact high. At that point, “Dance the Night Away” and “Atomic Punk” just brought me more into rock euphoria.
Although “Jaime’s Crying” sounded a bit herky-jerky, getting to hear Dave’s banter throughout the show, though minimal, was a real treat: “Don’t stick that tongue out at me unless you intend to use it hot stuff!” The pinch to let me know I was actually in ’07 came when Dave referred to a “booty call,” since that term didn’t get big until Hagar was in office.
I sensed a vibe of relief onstage. It seemed like these guys were actually having a good time and happy to finally be “wrecking the place” together again. It’s not impossible since they still retain their title of world’s greatest party band and they always do it up big and thunderous. Naturally, this monumental night was capped off by Van Halen’s most recognizable song and biggest hit, “Jump.” Let’s just say I saw enough high fiving in the row in front of me to last a lifetime.
Some highlights for me were “Panama,” “I’ll Wait,” and “Hot for Teacher.”