So, I finally got to see Van Halen in concert a bit late in life, but it was at least Van Halen and not Van Hagar. I got the second show 2-2-0-08 in Sunrise Florida at the Bank Atlantic Center. As you will know (and if you don’t know, you won’t be reading this post), the band now comprises not one, not two, but three Van Halens. Joining the line-up on bass guitar is none other than Eddie’s 16 but turning 17-year-old progeny and prodigy Wolfgang. The opening act was Ky-Mani Marley, the 11th of reggae legend Bob Marley’s 13 kids — he ain’t Bob that’s for sure, and that concludes my comments on that.
Now, before I get on to the concert, I can say that pretty much all guy teenagers in high school all dream of being a rock star. We all wanted to play guitar, drum, or whatever in a headline act to sold-out stadiums. It’s the ultimate fantasy. (Why do you think the game Guitar Hero is so successful?)
So, here’s Wolfgang, on stage, with a band that is beyond famous and has one of the world’s best guitarists in it. And Wolfgang, he being no slouch himself and widely regarded as on his way to being a legend like dad, stands around on stage looking mopey and unhappy barely cracking a smile and for all appearances looking like he’s going through the motions. In fact, he didn’t look like he even wanted to be there until the encore when Jump started, and he smiled and even jumped around a bit. He definitely acted the role of the stereotypical, mopey, goth, teenager. Good old Wolfie is talented, but it’s still weird seeing someone who looks about 15 on stage. It’s not like this was Hannah Montana or something. Lighten up Wolfgang!
Next up, I have a serious complaint. This is no reflection on Van Halen. The acoustics for this show were some of the worst I’ve ever heard at any concert in my life. The sound engineer should be fired. Other reviews posted on-line echo similar sentiments. There’s nothing wrong with loud, it is after all a rock concert. However, when the sound is bouncing around so much you can’t hear the vocals at all, you need to turn it down. The sound engineer is supposed to go around the arena before the show and make sure the sound is adequate everywhere and adjust volumes and/or speaker positions. He failed miserably and this considerably affected my enjoyment of the show — and judging by the comments of everyone around us, most everyone felt this way.
Our specific seats had a fantastic view. Unfortunately, row 21 of section 107 in the BankAtlantic Center is one of those with the glass partitions and the space in front was too small. This is made worse by the steel support beams holding the glass. It was unspeakably uncomfortable, enough so that one of our parties threw in the towel and left early. My knee is still sore today from being pressed into a metal support bar all night. I’d mention the lack of air conditioning but about halfway through the concert, it finally kicked in.
David Lee Roth is still his legendary Diamond Dave self. He doesn’t move as fast, but he’s still got the look, the attitude, and more importantly the sound. He hit all the notes, and I do mean all of them even on Jamie’s Crying. He seems to actually be having fun and not wanting to kill Eddie. I’m glad about that, though I doubt it will last.
Eddie Van Halen still owns the guitar hero of our time award. He’s probably one of the greatest guitar players ever and he was amazing. The sound he made come out of that guitar ranged from the sublime to the earth shattering and everything in between including a car (or motorcycle depending on your view). He’s a legend and earned it.
Alex Van Halen (Eddie’s brother) was amazing on drums and was definitely having more fun than anyone else on stage. He also got a huge solo which brought the roof down.
Wolfgang Van Halen taking over for Michael Anthony was awesome. He really was. His sound is a bit different, of course, but nobody will find fault with him on his skills. His voice, maybe. His sound is different than Anthony’s and you can notice it in some songs, and his voice is noticeably different. Other comments on Wolfie appear at the top of the page.
1- You Really Got Me
2- I’m The One
3- Runnin’ With the Devil
4- Romeo Delight (a bit of The Who’s “Magic Bus” sprinkled in)
5- Somebody Get Me a Doctor
6- Beautiful Girls
7- Dance the Night Away
8- Atomic Punk
9- Everybody Wants Some
10- So This is Love?
11- Mean Street
12- Pretty Woman
13- Alex’s extended and obviously awesome drum solo
15- I’ll Wait
16- And the Cradle Will Rock
17- Hot For Teacher
18- Little Dreamer
19- Little Guitars
20- Jamie’s Cryin’
21- Ice Cream Man
23- Eddie’s extended thrashing guitar solo including selections from Spanish Fly, Cathedral and Eruption
24- Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love
25- the encore was Jump
We also got the added side bonus of watch the hot chick in the luxury box in front of us tease all the guys by trying to flash her boobies but not quite spilling the goods. It was amusing because she was hitting on every guy in the box (about 8 of ’em) — and there was one guy who obviously not interested, and she was all over him. I guess that’s two shows for the price of one.