So there I was, sitting in my seat at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater on a Saturday night waiting for the band to go on. Only thing was, this was not just any band that was coming on. It was VAN HALEN. Opener Kenny Wayne Shepherd was probably really good; what I heard from the concession stands was definitely pleasing to my ears. I meant to get to our seats early enough to see him, but parking was not going to permit that. Speaking of which, I was delighted to see that the parking lot was filled with early tailgaters reveling in the summer night.
Now, on to the main event. It was a beautiful night; a cool breeze was blowing through the seats as the boys took the stage. Anyone still sitting when the first notes of “Light up the Sky” sounded quickly jumped up in pure elation as the ultimate Pasadena party band showed everyone that they still have it.
The band ripped into their catalogue and alternated between their biggest hits and some really deep cuts that pleased the mega-fans (yours truly included). Eddie Van Halen looked healthy, happy and was shredding like the axe-slinger of old on numbers like “Romeo Delight,” and “Drop Dead Legs,” a song that has never before made it to the stage.
David Lee Roth, ever the master of ceremonies, was showing off his full body tattoo and changing outfits like the performer that he is. Alex Van Halen didn’t miss a beat all night. The guy just crushes the skins and keeps it all together from up on his perch. Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen does a lot more that just hold down the bottom end. This kid has upped the ante. He has improved his background vocals; he and his dad sounded fantastic together. I can honestly say that the current lineup is so solid; it is as it should be.
Hearing “Dirty Movies,” “Little Guitars,” and “Dance the Night Away,” amongst all the other classics, I was in heaven. The guys looked like they were having a genuinely good time up there as well. People can say what they want to about Dave’s singing, but he said it himself that night: “Just about everything’s breaking down on me except my enthusiasm”.
He tries so hard up there to compete with all the music that’s coming from the band, he gives it 150% and I for one appreciate the hell out of it. How hard can it be to stand next to someone who can do those things with a guitar and then have to sing? All things considered, VAN HALEN is as mighty as it ever was. Anyone that disagrees with me, there’s the door fuckos!
LIVE WORDS: ROCCO
LIVE PHOTOS: JACKIE ZAFERATOS