Did you miss them, they’re back!

Back in college my roommate Dustin and I made a pledge that if Van Halen ever toured with David Lee Roth again we would be at the show no matter what. That promise was fulfilled in October of last year when we saw the mighty Van Halen at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.

What is there to say, it was great to see a classic rock band playing their classics with 75% of the people involved in making those songs classic in the first place. The other 25% comes from bassist Michael Anthony being replaced with Eddie Van Halen’s son, Wolfgang.

The Cleveland show was strait up Van Halen rock. It was a treat seeing the (for the most part) original lineup in the home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame after having missed out on their induction ceremony. The band came together well and performed some great songs the way they were meant to be heard.

Fast forward almost six months, a tour extension, and a one-month postponement and Van Halen is back in Ohio, this time in the Capital City.

While they stuck mostly to the songbook on the initial leg of the tour this time the band seemed more comfortable with each other and being on stage. While the division between guitarist Eddie Van Halen and singer David Lee Roth has been played out quite dramatically in the media, the on-stage performance seemed to make all that go away.

One particular moment was the seemingly-adlibbed medley of classic rock and guitar effects to the backdrop of “Show Your Love.” Eddie kept changing up the rhythm and Dave matched him each time as they went back and forth making motorcycle noises and intermixing the Who’s “Magic Bus” and Eric Clapton’s “Crossroads.”

The band plays for over two hours without a break and the fans soaked up every minute of it. Pretty impressive for three guys in their fifties and a teenager.

Eddie looks great. Especially after that makeover where he got a haircut and a new set of teeth. Dave, while not the young man who made the splits cool in that MTV Staple video for “Jump” still works in a couple kicks and manages to flirt with the girls in the audience, sometimes even during the songs. His voice is as solid as ever too. Alex mans the drums and while I’m not a musician his drum solos are never less than impressive. Finally there’s the newest edition to the band. Wolfgang Van Halen is more than an adequate replacement for Michael Anthony. While the jury is still out on his background vocals, his bass playing is right in line with his predecessor. This was very evident during his extended bass intro to “So This is Love.” He’s also got a decent sense of comedic timing because he gets the line “Come on, Dave, give me a break,” during “Unchained”

While many bands will actually stop playing between songs and talk taking up valuable concert time, Van Halen hardly stops the music. If there are people on stage, there’s an instrument being played. Even if it’s jut an adlib or a drum beat to keep the audience moving.

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