Ok so those of you, who have seen my name here know that I kinda like VAN HALEN. So it should come as no surprise that I wanted to review this live offering from the boys from Pasadena, Tokyo Dome Live In Concert.
Let me start with the fact that I am not a musician. I am not a music expert. I am a music fan. More distinctly, I m a fan of Rock and Roll. So, the words and phrases I use to describe this music are coming from a place of pure, unadulterated love of it.
So, we begin with the fact that this recording was done in Tokyo, not America. News flash: VAN HALEN are a band that has toured the entire world probably a dozen times over. Where they choose to press RECORD is entirely up to them. And after listening to it, I totally understood. They were ON. All cylinders were firing in perfect unison. Like the car they sing about in one of their biggest hits, “Panama”, VAN HALEN is a well- oiled, low-riding, top down classic. The guitarist was ferocious. The bass player and drummer were locked in like they shared the same bloodline. Oh, wait, they do. The fact that this band is “three quarters original, one quarter inevitable”, should tell you that they know what they’re doing.
The setlist is what I grew up listening to, with a few of my current driving songs from their newest studio effort A Different Kind of Truth thrown in for good measure. Do the songs sound exactly like they do on any of the records/CDs/mp3’s? No. It’s a LIVE show. If I wanted to hear them played exactly like they were written, I would just pop in one of the LPs that birthed them. VAN HALEN honed their chops by playing live to anyone and everyone who would listen. They know exactly what they’re doing up there. If it’s even possible, Eddie Van Halen has gotten better with age. His guitar playing takes my breath away and I’m not even a guitarist. Songs like “Dance the Night Away”, “Unchained”, and “Mean Street” were better than I’ve heard them before.
“I’ll Wait”, one of their bigger hits was given an adrenaline shot and kicked the shit out of the speakers in my car. Alex Van Halen’s signature drum sound was ever present on such monsters as “Hot for Teacher” and “Romeo Delight”, as well as modern juggernauts like “Chinatown.” Wolfgang Van Halen fits in there and holds down the bottom line like a seasoned member of the band. The background singing was one of the things that impressed me most about this album. Look, we all miss Michael Anthony. But Wolfie has grown into his position and he’s only getting better. Which brings us to Mr. Roth. Diamond Dave. Does Dave sing like he did in 1981? No. Like he did in 1991? Nope. And you know what? I don’t give a flying fuck. Having him back where he belongs means never having to say he’s sorry! Dave has always “forgot the lyrics”. Its called shtick.
Dave isn’t a classically trained opera singer. He’s a frontman for the greatest rock band in American history. If you wanna hear Sammy Hagar, go out and pre-order his new live album, the Circle-something (Conveniently timed?). VAN HALEN’S lead singer is David Lee Roth.
Sorry about that. Little tirade.
Dave’s live take here is pretty fuckin’ cool too. His ad libbing on “Pretty Woman” was hilarious. He sounds especially awesome on “Women in Love”, the aforementioned “I’ll Wait”, and “Dance the Night Away.” He is a showman, not a guy who just stands up there and sings word for word.
The bottom line is this people: If you are a VAN HALEN fan, then you need to go out and get this. If you’re not a VAN HALEN fan, then you need to go and look at a mirror to see what the hell else is wrong with you.
RATING: 10/10, two thumbs up, 5 stars, you name it. (Like you had to ask!)