by Francisco J. Bidó
[A dear friend, talented guitarist, die-hard Van Halen fan, and faithful "5" reader shares with us his experiences from the October 26th date in Kansas City, MO of what he calls "the best American rock band ever". We're not inclined to disagree. - KJ]
I just got back. I'm pumped man, I am freaking pumped! At the same time, I feel like I ran a marathon. Well, what really happened was that I held about two gallons of ultra cheap Bud Light beer while singing along—excuse me, screaming—to mostly Van Halen I and at least two or three tunes from every meaningful—i.e. non-Sammy—Van Halen album ever made. Here is [the setlist]—in random order. It was roughly a two-hour show, so I'm probably missing a few songs:
You Really Got Me
Everybody Wants Some!!
And The Cradle Will Rock...
Ice Cream Man
Somebody Get Me A Doctor
Eruption Medley (mostly Eruption + excerpts From Spanish Fly & Cathedral + lots of improv)
Ain't Talking About Love
Hot For Teacher
Dance The Night Away
They opened with “You Really Got Me”, closed with “Jump” and sounded FREAKING AWESOME!!!! And the show was surprisingly energetic. No small talk—none of that ‘Hello, Kansas City’ crap and so on—it was one song after the other for two hours, non-stop, no breaks, and no one sat down from beginning to end. At least in my section.
Now, let's talk, people.
Wolfgang's harmonies sounded just like Michael Anthony. His bass playing was from the heart and he obviously had a lot of fun doing it. No complaints there whatsoever. He seems like a real good kid. He's the glue right now. I bet Eddie stays more disciplined when his kid is around—just a thought. Alex was high powered and relentless at beating the crap out of those drums. Oh, and also ultra precise. Nothing new there except that he sounds better and more impressive live than on the records. Eddie was absolutely brilliant! I had discounted him for the cheap Journey imitation synth work he did with Hagar. But tonight he was very, very aggressive—he was the atomic punk—and played with one serious killer attitude. He didn't let me down one bit.
David Lee's vocals are about 88.48% still there. Which is darn good in my opinion. He still squeaks in a credible way, has some ninja moves and handles himself very professionally on stage. For example, he would restrain [himself] every once in a while from all the kicking and jumping and purely focused and serviced the songs. I didn't hear any off key notes or falling behind the songs. He did a great job.
To top it off, this was the best produced show I've seen! And I've seen plenty. They had a ginormous stage with all kinds of lights and lasers and a big-assed screen for background [so] the folks in the nose bleeders didn't have any problems following Eddie's tapping nuances. Back to Eddie, he plays all that stuff effortlessly and with big smile. Dang, I have problems getting past some of the intros...Anyway, I counted eight eighteen-wheelers for gear only.
That's more or less it. I can't complain. I saw the best American rock band ever. This concert is a milestone in my life...OK, I'm probably still drunk and starting that silly melancholic phase that you drunk folks go through. I’ve heard about that. Later, rock on. I'm going to bed.
PS: Add “Running with the Devil” to the list!
[Photo courtesy of van-halen.com]