Van Halen, US Airways Center, 6/16/12

Categories: Last Night

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Maria Vassett
David Lee Roth
Van Halen
US Airways Center
Saturday, June 16

When the recently reunited Van Halen (featuring original vocalist David Lee Roth) announced it was postponing a handful of dates on its current tour, most people assumed that it was due to some conflict within the band. Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth wasted no time dismissing the theory and chalked it up to the band's biting off more than it could chew with this tour.

See our entire Van Halen slideshow.

Fortunately for Van Halen fans in the Valley, the band's Phoenix date went down as scheduled, and if there is any animosity within the Van Halen camp, they certainly didn't display it. But, after watching the band perform Saturday night in front of a packed US Airways Center, another reason for the postponing of those tour dates seemed more likely: They're not very good.

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Maria Vassett
See more photos from in our complete Van Halen slideshow.

Allow me to clarify. I'm not suggesting that Van Halen is a shitty band, because it isn't. In fact Van Halen, fronted by David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar, is undeniably one of the greatest rock bands of all time. (The Gary Cherone-fronted Van Halen? Not so much.)

And it's not even that the members of the Van Halen clan aren't very good: From a technical standpoint, drummer Alex Van Halen was good and virtuoso guitarist Eddie Van Halen was amazing (the later performing a guitar solo -- surprise -- that was without question the highlight of the night), and even Eddie's son, Wolfgang (the least experienced of the crew) held his own on stage. This brings us to David Lee Roth, who sadly was the weak link of the group on Saturday evening.

To his credit, Roth was just as much the showman as he's ever been. The problem was he focused too much on the antics and not quite enough on the musicianship (which can be a big problem when, you know, Eddie Van Halen is onstage).

Any time Eddie Van Halen ripped into a guitar solo, Roth would strut around the stage, hamming it up for the audience. It was funny at first -- "Hey, it's Diamond Dave" -- but at a certain point, he just started to look awkward. Essentially, he turned into that guy who shows up at a party and just tries way too hard to impress everyone there. You wanted to say, "You're David Lee Roth. You don't have to try so hard. We already like you."

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Maria Vaseett
When Roth wasn't goofing, he'd engage the crowd with stories that lacked much sense, and you wondered if you were missing an inside joke. There was also a video package of Roth with his sheepdogs, and it felt strange and out of place.

Minor gripes aside (Roth's always been eccentric), all real offense came from the vocals. Roth just seemed to be all over the place. For the most part, all the songs were performed in a sing-speak style, and he had a hard time hitting the high notes and just omitted large chunks of songs for no apparent reason.

As much as I wanted to like this show I didn't. There is an inherent coolness to seeing Van Halen perform songs like "Hot For Teacher" or "Runnin' With The Devil." But a minute or two into each song, I realized that Dave was kind of fucking up the song, and the nostalgia factor just went right out the window. So if they need to postpone some dates so that they can recharge their batteries and get Roth sounding better, then I'm all for it.

I don't think anything sums up this concert better than this. On the light-rail ride home, a man in the same car as me started singing the song "Hypnotized" by Bob Welch. A woman sitting behind me yelled out, "You sing better than David Lee Roth." The sad thing is, she wasn't wrong.

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13 comments
Brutoid
Brutoid

VAN HALEN CANCELS REMAINING TOUR.  Sources told Rolling Stone the band was fighting and the members "hate each other." I guess it was still worth $300 to see Eddie and Alex still rock their asses off, Wolfgang develop into a talented musician, and witness just how big an ass like Roth can ruin not only a night of music, but bring down a legendary band.  so sad.........................you'll NEVER see them on stage again.

Duke O'Brien
Duke O'Brien

I was at the show in New Orleans and David and I've seen others on this tour and in my option he sounded great and put on a amazing show!!

Tom
Tom

Actually it was better than 82.Yes his singing was better than a lot of that 82 tour.

Jack
Jack

No, the clowns are at the chicken foot concert led by Sammy the Bozo.

Jack
Jack

They should listen to an idiot like you who prefers the crap of the hagar era.

Rhona Hanley
Rhona Hanley

Everyone is complaining about David Lee Roth's performance.  To be fair, he is always outrageous in his stage presence.  His creepy flirtation with the gal in the front row was over the top and we all could have done without the sheepdog clips.  The music was so LOUD and DISTORTED that half of the time it just drowned him out.  He was shouting out most of the lyrics just to be heard.  The idiot in the sound-booth needed to up the gain on his mike.  Let's be fair. The Van Halens were off their game as well, often playing out of sync, so it was hard to make out what song they were playing half of the time. The sad part is that Kool & the Gang were the highlight of the night.

Big Bad Bill
Big Bad Bill

The only differences between Dave live on this tour and Dave back in the eighties is two things. Vocally he doesn't do any high pitched screams (think chorus of Runnin With The Devil) and physically he doesn't do the split jump off the drum riser. Other than that it's the same Dave. The complaints I've read make no sense. Dave never sang the right words. He always would forget some lyrics or just not sing a line or two. He sometimes talked instead of singing. When he used to do the high pitched screams it was to cover up the fact that he wasn't singing all the words. He always made jokes and told stories. If you think his dog thing is bad then you must of never seen them in the eighties when he would hold up a song for ten minutes with a story. Sometimes he wouldn't even say anything, just stand there grinning wasting time that could have been used to play another song. Moves wise he's still the same. The dance stuff he does now that everyone is ragging on has always been there. I saw him do jazz hands and a pirouette in '81. David Lee Roth is doing the same act today that he did in the seventies and eighties. The same act that has made him a rock legend and helped make Van Halen a success. Everything negative that has been brought up about Dave on this tour I have seen and heard him do in the seventies and eighties. I think what is fooling everyone into thinking he sucks now is his physical appearance. I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere, but I bet it has to do with him not having the long hair and his face being older. I have a feeling that if Dave sang and moved exactly like he has been doing on this tour, but looked like he did in the eighties, no one would be complaining. Old Dave with short hair and wrinkles just doesn't come off the same to people as young Dave with long hair and assless chaps did. 

rci808
rci808

1 more question. whats up with the 'tattle-tale' bullshit? running over here to squeel that ol' rci is simply warning his friends that yes, there is another 'copy/paste stereotype lame-assed report' no hard feelings to the cat who wrote it. but if anything sucked about the vh show in arizona, it was this write-up. have a wonderful time.

rci808
rci808

 i'm still trying to figure out why you think i'm just a dave fan.. when have i ever slammed sam, or gary?

rci808
rci808

lol... i liked it, and already went. what makes you think i'm a "butt-hurt" sam fan anyways? i'm here wondering why you all are slamming Dave. sounds like you need to smoke some bath salt.

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