Sunday, February 03, 2008
Rock Concert Review
Brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen (on drums) were born of a Dutch father and a Javanese mother in Amsterdam and Nijmagen, Holland respectively in 1955 and '53 (Eddie's the younger). Nijmagen is where members of the 82nd Airborne (including my cousin Ross) rowed across the lower Rhine in canvas and plywood boats and simultaneously took both ends of the big highway bridge there, preventing its destruction by Nazi forces (but enough ancient history). They came to America young, started a band in 1972 in Pasadena, were pretty good, and started recording albums around 1978 when my students turned me onto them and let me record Van Halen (I) during our poetry-in-rock lessons. I kind of liked the guitar work back then, mainly for its enthusiasm, but never was a true fan, although I heard the hits on the radio, until Valerie Bertonelli, hosting on SNL, introduce her new husband Eddie who did a 2 plus minute guitar solo that blew me away. I still didn't buy any albums and I think about that time Sammy Hagar replaced Roth as singer. I thought Hagar was the worst thing about Montrose so I wrote off Van Halen until last Friday and the joy-to-attend concert. Here's more background on Eddie.
He's divorced from now slightly chubby Valerie (although appeared to wear a wedding band on Friday) having filed in 2005. He appears to be the custodial parent for his only child, lummoxy, spotty 17 year old Wolfgang, who is now the competent base player for Van Halen. He also appears to have had a big problem with alcohol, but maybe that's under control. He had a hip replacement a few years ago and lost about a third of his tongue to cancer more recently. He still smokes (and indeed had a cigarette on Friday). He can still really play. He wore cargo like painter pants and red tennis shoes and no shirt. He has 5150 tatooed large on his lower back. I imagined 49 and 48 on his butt cheeks but 5150, it turns out, was an album a decade plus ago. He has relatively short brown hair, a cut but with no bulk body looking much younger than his face and hands. He brought out the signature custom Stratocaster only once and played a copycat Telecaster a few songs but did most of his excellent work on a guitar of his own label, a
Charvel EVH or something like that.
53 year old David Lee Roth grinned at times like an idiot Cheshire cat. St. Theresa in the ecstasy of her death could not have looked more pleased to be there than Roth. He started in an elaborately brocaded coat but soon stripped down. He can still do the flying roundhouse kick of his earlier days, but some of the other signature dance moves (like splits) seem to have gone the way of his long blonde locks. Still, his enthusiasm was infectious as the band worked through their hits and then did some solo shots. Roth's was to tell a long tale about smoking dope with Kenny in 1972 before he started Ice Cream Man on acoustic gutar. He's clearly going bald and has had some help up there but his body is an inspiration for us over 50--well cut with some bulk--he looked really good. His voice is still powerful but he glottal-wavers too much now and again. Van Halen without David Lee Roth is decidedly less of the whole, I would imagine, but I don't think they miss their old bassist, Michael Anthony. Wolfgang did a little solo sounding like he listened some to 10 years dead Jaco Pastorious. There's nothing intellectually stimulating (like with Dylan or early Little Feat) in the songs, but many are fun. I'm a sucker for Hot for Teacher and always have been.
At the end of the encore (Jump, if you had any doubt) Alex and Eddie embraced in what seemed a heartfelt brotherly display of affection and congratulations. I know if I were Eddie, I'd be thankful for each and every day (his form or throat/mouth cancer is generally but not, of course, universally, fatal). Did I mention that he really can play guitar? I mean really well.
I have to call Van Halen 2007-2008, however, merely a nostalgia tour, because they are no longer the force they were once in music (more's the pity), but what nostalgia!
Labels: VAn Halen
Apparently you have not seen recent Jenny Craig TV ads featuring Valerie Bertinelli (w/ an "i"). She has dropped 40 lbs; spent a lot of time in the gym, I suspect,and looks 27 not 47.
In the last one, she was wearing a pair of spray on low rider jeans of the type favored by my daughters when they were in HS.