Thursday, July 18, 2002 @ 1:20 PM
The Red Rocker and Diamond Dav
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REVIEW BY: Dennis Brown
"Dave is on in 30 minutes!" At 7 pm on Saturday June 22 at Blockbuster Pavilion, those words prompted an immediate reaction to those still in the parking lot celebrating the start of an evening with Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth. It had been an all day party for those who had shown up early on this Saturday. BBQ's set up, frisbees and footballs flying left and right, and enough motor homes to think that you had stumbled upon a trailer park. The music of Van Halen would be heard blaring out of many vehicles, while beer was the beverage of choice for about as far as the eye could see.
The 30 minute warning however would catch many off guard. It was if there was a collective feeling of an order being given to those still in the parking lot. The Frisbees and footballs would stop, and canopies, chairs, and all other party equipment would be seen being stuffed into vehicles with a growing sense of urgency. More people were now rushing for the bushes instead of dealing with the line at the port-o-potties. As people were heading for the entrance, many were downing their beers on the way in order to hit the last trashcans before the entrance.
As we made our way through the entrance the opening sounds of crashing cymbals and high pitched guitar were heard. As we near the entrance to our section, the opening notes of "Hot for Teacher" start blaring through the speakers and Diamond David Lee Roth appears on stage. This was the first time that he would return to Glen Helen Regional Park since Van Halen's now legendary performance at the 1983 US festival 19 years earlier. The crowd roars during the talking section of "Hot for Teacher" when Dave says "I heard ya missed me California… so I'm bacccccckkkkkkkk." Dave proceeded though his set with classic VH tunes as well as his classic one liners. He didn't miss his chance to say, "Look at all the people here tonight!"
His band included James Lomenzo on bass and Ray Luzier on drums. Former Atomic Punks guitar player Brian Young was duplicating Eddie's sound and licks note for note and looked as happy as can be to be there. Dave and his band maximized their 90-minute set with Van Halen classics such as "Atomic Punk," "Dance the Night Away," "I'm the One" and "Mean Street." Brian Young amazed the crowd during his solo section when he played parts of “Eruption” while adding his own licks, including a part where he used 8 fingers. Dave's set focused strictly on his material with Van Halen with the exception of "Yankee Rose," from 1986's Eat ‘Em and Smile." This was to the delight of the crowd as we had not had the chance to hear many of the Van Halen classics during the Van Hagar-era.
As the sun was setting, Dave continued to hammer out Van Halen songs one after the other, such as "Ice Cream Man," "Unchained" and "Pretty Woman." Dave ended his 90-minute set with "Jump" with the crowd singing each line. Dave’s preparation for the tour was obvious and the fans were not disappointed. Dave was in great shape, his band sounded excellent and his song selection, accompanied by video and animation, gave the crowd what they had been longing for. Dave can still entertain with the best of them.
After about a 45-minute intermission the lights go down, and a video of Sammy Hagar is projected on the overhead big screen. The video gave an overview of Sammy's career and gave those outside at the concession stands a chance to return to their seats. At the conclusion of the video, "Cabo Wabo" played though the PA. Half way though, the curtain drops and Hagar comes out to greet the audience, throws a guitar around his neck and launches into "Red" from his pre-Van Halen days. Next to the drum riser on either side of the stage were two grandstands where members of the audience were pre-selected to join the band on stage. With the advantage of full darkness, and headlining this show, Sammy had the crowd on its feet from the opening note. The 15 freeway had been jammed earlier in the evening but by 9:45 pm, most everyone had made it into the show. The audience had an early treat when Michael Anthony joined Sammy on stage right after the opening notes of "Runaround." The crowd went nuts, and Mike would end up playing about 7 Van Halen songs with Sammy that evening including "5150," "Poundcake" and "Finish What You Started."
Sammy didn't hesitate to advertise his Cabo Wabo Tequila, and even passed around a few glasses to the crowd. He told the stunning waitress that he and Mikey "needed a double" to celebrate the occasion. Sammy would crank out tunes from Montrose, his pre-Van Halen solo years, his Van Halen material and of course his post Van Halen solo material. Highlights included: "There's Only One Way To Rock," "Mas Tequila," "Top of the World" and "Heavy Metal."
Michael Anthony joined the band one last time during "Dreams" before the final song. Sammy ended the show singing "Cabo Wabo" with the entire crowd singing along. It was an incredible ending for this momentous occasion. As Sammy Hagar said "who would have known" that the two former singers would tour together. Although the prevailing pre-show opinion on our side of the parking lot was that Dave would rule the stage playing Van Halen classics, I really believe that Sammy stepped up to the plate and showed his versatility. He showed that at 54 years of age, he could keep the crowd on edge playing songs from his entire career, while Dave played it safe in certain respects with his Van Halen blitz from 1978-1986.
All in all this tour is great for the fans. Thanks Dave, Thanks Sammy!