It is hardly possible to conceive of a more perfect party machine than Diamond Dave-era Van Halen at its best. They were that rare band that had it all, the perfect meld of Apollonian ambition and Dionysian ass motivation. The band’s 2012 reunion has been more fruitful than expected, producing a surprisingly strong comeback effort in A Different Kind Of Truth – the rare reunion disc that can hold its own against more than one of its predecessors – as well as an old fashioned arena tour that is leaving a sea of open mouthed smiles in its wake.
At the Staples Center, they hit the ground running and then did a song about it – “Unchained” of course! I’d read some disconcerting reports from the couple of tours previous, of sloppiness and wastedness, but tonight they were absolutely on form. David Lee Roth has lost an octave or so over the decades, and let the audience take over some of those legendary screams for him, but in his comfort range, he’s still remarkably strong. Ed’s playing phenomenally well, and actually looks healthy for the first time in recent memory. Alex is his usual ebullient self and while Michael Anthony is missed, Wolfy Van Halen’s doing a fine job holding down that massive low end for him.
In short, NAILED it. And a tip of the hat for the fine choice of opening act. Kool And The Gang are one of the other most perfect party machines ever put together. An arena full of people, just blocks from Hollywood, singing “Hollywood Swinging” – that’s a moment right there. The band – which still boasts two of its founding members from 1964 and many players who have been in it for decades – works in a different, non-competitive field, but one close enough to home that the majority of the crowd were up on their feet by the end of their set.
Photo gallery after the jump.
Review by Bob Lee, photos by Brian Michaels.