Hard rock icons Van Halen are proving to be vibrant still on their 2015 North American tour. It’s the band’s first outing since their cancelled U.S. tour dates in 2012. Now, the band is back on the road playing for packed arenas and amphitheaters across the continent in support of their new live album and a handful of remastered classics.
After a fantastic opening set from the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, drummer Alex Van Halen climbed up behind his monstrous double-base drum kit, gazed out over the sea of fans at the Susquehanna Bank Center, and threw up a peace sign that received thousands of cheers. The rest of the band followed. His nephew and Tremonti bassist Wolfgang Van Halen and Diamond Dave himself, and of course, the icon. The legend. Thee Eddie Van Halen, who ignited an absolute eruption from the capacity crowd.
The band kicked off their set with the fast-paced “Light Up The Sky” from their sophomore self-titled album. From their, the band proceeded to do just that. They ripped right into their fist-pumping anthem “Runnin’ With The Devil,“ and they were off and runnin’. Whether it’s the two years of rest since their last album and tour, or Wolfgang serving as the band’s fountain of youth, Van Halen didn’t show their age one bit. Frontman David Lee Roth boogied around on his own personal dance floor in the center of the stage, twirling his mic stand and changing his dapper wardrobe throughout the set. He was complimented perfectly by Eddie and Wolfgang’s dual backup harmonies, all while Alex pounded away on his kit. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway – Eddie Van Halen absolutely shredded his FU Tone-enhanced ax like there was no tomorrow. If you closed your eyes for a moment, it was hard to tell what decade it was.
They tore through a hefty 25-song set that included big hits like the two opening tracks plus “Everybody Wants Some!,” “Somebody Get Me a Doctor,” “Beautiful Girls,” “Hot For Teacher,” “Unchained,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” “Dance The Night Away,” and more. Other rare gems and fan favorites included “Romeo Delight,” “Women In Love,” and “Drop Dead Legs,” among others. They also dropped two tracks from their last studio album – “China Town” and “She’s The Woman” – the latter of which was the best song off the disc and one of the highlights of the set. The band wrapped things up with their heavy metal burner “Panama” and the iconic arena-rock classic “Jump.” Afterwards, all four members took a bow together, and the crowd was more than satisfied.
Van Halen released their new live album Tokyo Dome Live In Concert on March 31. The album was recorded on June 21, 2013 in Tokyo, Japan and is the band’s first-ever live effort featuring original vocalist David Lee Roth. The record contains 23 songs spanning all of the band’s seven album with Roth. It out now on double-disc CD, four-LP 180-gram vinyl, and digitally via Amazon and iTunes. Fans who download the album will also receive Van Halen hits “Panama”, “Runnin’ With The Devil”, “Jump”, and “Hot For Teacher.”
In addition to the live outing, Van Halen also released remastered versions of Van Halen, 1984, Diver Down, Women and Children First, Van Halen II and Fair Warning. Each album was cut straight from the quarter-inch tapes for CD, 180-gram vinyl and for the digital version by mastering engineer Chris Bellman, who remastered the original albums for Bernie Grundman Studios, Hollywood, CA. – by Matt Bishop