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Van Halen Live in San Jose, CA

By Tokemaster General, Contributor
Wednesday, August 25, 2004 @ 9:50 AM


Van Halen Live at the San Jose

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REVIEW BY: D.I.O., R2Cents

First note before the review: If you are over twenty-five years old, please do not wear spandex! We don't need to see forty-year old women trying to squeeze into their '80s outfits. Burn my eyes, please!

The once great and mighty Van Halen rolled through San Jose on Tuesday night and showed why it might have been best if they had called it a day the first time they broke up. Anyone that showed up looking for a good time rock 'n' roll show got what they wanted and judging by the reaction of the almost capacity crowd, they loved it.

But, if you showed up, like me, to see the once great, innovative, and legendary Eddie Van Halen, then it was disappointing, and somewhat sad, to see your guitar hero as a shell of what he once was. It was almost like a car that gets to the top of hill but just can't find enough to get over the top. Eddie is great but he was off on most songs, his solos were mostly noisemakers, and his main solo was like watching a guy practicing in his basement. We at R2Cents had the opportunity of seeing Eddie play at NAMM 2003 and this was the same thing. Boring and unimpressive. Is this the guy that millions of guitar players emulate and imitate? I really felt bad for the guy. Did Valerie mess up his head that much? The most poignant moment came when during his solo the crowd was chanting, "Eddie, Eddie..." over and over. Eddie looked genuinely moved and was obviously crying when he looked up. It felt like he knew his time has come and was overwhelmed to know that most of the people don't care how he plays now, just that he is respected and loved as the legend he is. He actually seemed to get better for a while after that. Of course, you wouldn't have know by the way the old hippie next to us who threw down his beer in disgust and walked out cursing like a banshee. He was so irate with Eddie and his playing that he grabbed his wife and was gone faster than Gary Cherone. Oh well, to each his own.

Sammy and company blazed through all of their hits from the David Lee Roth era all the way through their recent singles off of their greatest hits album. Sammy and bassist Michael Anthony looked to be having the best time. They were drinking, dancing, and singing non-stop the whole night. Michael Anthony took over the singing on most of the parts that called for the high notes (Thank you!). Unfortunately, they decided to let Sammy have a moment to himself in the spotlight and play a couple of his solo songs. YAWN! No offense against Sammy but I thought I was there to see a Van Halen show! What a way to bring the show to a sudden halt. Although, if it weren't for Michael and Sammy, it could have been worse. They kept the crowd up and into it the whole time. If nothing else, they know how to work a crowd. There were some great songs and highlights. "Somebody Get Me A Doctor," with Michael Anthony on vocals, was fun and sounded great. "Poundcake" and "Unchained" rocked. "Best Of Both Worlds" sounded fresh and undated. "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love" was another highlight with Sammy letting a guy from the crowd sing the little break part in the middle. To steal a line from O.G. Mudbone, "Right Now" brought too many thoughts of watching a soda commercial but was still pretty good. I have no idea what they were doing at the end of the song. Eddie was making noise and Sammy kept saying, "Right now, right now." It was pretty bad. I kept thinking, "Right now, someone wants this song to end." The first encore was "You Really Got Me," and except for Sammy singing, it sounded just like the old DLR-era Van Halen. "Panama" and "When It's Love" finished the night. Okay, but nothing that stood out. The whole show I kept feeling like I was anticipating something great was going to happen and it just never did.

I have to admit I did leave with a smile on my face, as did most of the crowd. Maybe the smile was from the numbness of spending $107 on a ticket to see a faint glimpse of a band that I once held in high regard. Don't get me wrong, Van Halen was still better than half the bands out there today, but if you are like me and expected to see the same tight, technically efficient band from twenty years ago, you couldn't help but leave a little disappointed. I give it 6 out of 10 stars.

Setlist:

Jump
Runaround
Humans Being
Up For Breakfast
Somebody Get Me A Doctor
Poundcake
It's About Time
Top Of The World
Unchained
Why Can't This Be Love
Where Eagles Fly
Hallelujah
Seventh Seal
Best Of Both Worlds
Dreams
Ain't Talkin' Bout Love
Right Now
You Really Got Me
Panama
When It's Love



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