VAN HALEN: Rock’s Million $ Love Fest Comes to Florida
St. Petersburg, FL • February 18, 2008
There was nigh a dry seat in the house when 75% of the original Van Halen line-up took the stage in front of 15,000 enthusiastic fans at the Times Forum in St. Petersburg, Florida on February 18.
The legendary rock outfit kicked off the high-glitz, low energy affair with their debut 1978 hit, “You Really Got Me.” From there the two hour and fifteen minute onslaught ensued, featuring most of the predictable “biggies” from the band’s golden “Diamond Dave” era.
From the lighting, to the staging, to the enormous, on stage video screen, the entire production was a true rock and roll spectacle. Regrettably, however, despite all of the amps, ramps, and hype, it was NOT the reunion that longtime Van Halen fans had been eagerly anticipating for the last quarter century.
Oh sure, it was great to see the bare chested “Diamond” David Lee Roth, one of rock’s ultimate showmen back on the big stage once again with Eddie and Alex Van Halen, ripping through such classics as “Running with the Devil,” “Beautiful Girls” and “Mean Street,” but three does NOT a quartet make.
According to sources, a spat between original bassist Michael Anthony and the Van Halen brothers over Michael’s participation on Sammy Hagar’s 2006 tour led to his dismissal from the band after a thirty-year tenure. Although Michael always seemed to be overshadowed musically by Eddie while he was in the band, he is sorely missed the moment he’s gone. David Lee Roth may be a master showman, but a live vocal powerhouse he ain’t. And without Michael’s signature backup vocals, Dave’s sporadic, often spoken lead vocals became annoying at times.
Although Eddie’s teenage son Wolfgang delivered a technically perfect bass performance, he looked as if he’d rather be on the tour bus playing video games throughout most of the band’s set. But “Wolfie” wasn’t the only member lacking energy. Although he still looks amazing even with his age appropriate “Officer and a Gentleman” haircut, the once athletic and energetic “Diamond” Dave paced slowly about the stage all night, executing only an occasional trademark roundhouse kick. But with his animated cheesy smile, colorful stories, and overall classic vaudeville style, he still “sparkled like a diamond.” And despite being over 50 and having had a hip replacement a few years back, it was actually the shirtless Eddie Van Halen who displayed any kind of energy, occasionally jumping through the air and leaping across the stage.
Industry insiders estimate Van Halen’s nightly take-home on this tour to be approximately a cool million. Now that would certainly explain the big, toothy, on-stage smiles and snuggly hugs between Dave and Eddie all night! It’s just a shame that a 100 million dollar tour was enough incentive for “the brothers” to forgive David Lee Roth for his past transgressions but it wasn’t enough loot to extend the same courtesy to Michael Anthony.
Popcorn: $5. Soft drink: $5. Ticket: $100. T-shirt: $40. Parking: $10. Gas: $60. A real Van Halen reunion the next time around: priceless!