Van Halen in Seattle

By A Headbanger, Do You Bang Head?
Monday, December 10, 2007 @ 10:14 PM

At Key Arena

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Written by R. Scott Bailey

With 22 years since I last had an unsuccessful opportunity to see the original Van Halen, a lot has changed, but certainly not my love that classic Van Halen sound. So when tickets went on sale in the summer, I did it old school. I went to a ticket seller 2 and ½ hours before tickets went on sale. Since I live about 3 hours from Seattle and that fact that the concert was in December, is probably the reason that I was the only person in line at this location. I had stopped at another location before this one, and was given a ticket to hold my 4th place in line. I could come back 15 minutes before they went on sale and get my spot back. Well, for the Mighty Van Halen, 4th place in line was not good enough. So off I went to another location. There, I was first in a line of 1. This was perfect. 180 minutes later I had 2 tickets for Row 24 center stage floor seats. I can almost hear “Look at all the People Here TONIGHT!” ringing in my ears.

After waiting a few months…a few long months, the show date has arrived. And of course a snowstorm has hit the mountain pass between Seattle and me. So in my quest to make sure I get to the show, I take the long way around to Seattle, through Portland, Oregon. After 6 ½ hours of driving in the torrential rain, I arrived in Seattle the night before the show.

On Monday, I met my friends in front of Key Arena and we headed in. We immediately stood in line with the throngs of Van Halenites in line at the merch booth. With a small spattering of t-shirts and some expensive other merch, I decided on a nice retro logo shirt. (Side note: if you are buying a shirt at the show, make sure you go a little larger than normal. They are thin shirts that will shrink like you won’t believe.)

With concert time coming on soon, we got to our seats, hopeful that the opening band would be decent. With Ky-Mani Marley (son of Bob) selected as the opening band by a certain Mr. Roth, I knew it would be different. And after a 30 minute set of pretty good reggae from Mr. Marley, (including 2 of his dad’s songs), the crowd cheered him and his band as they thanked Van Halen and left the stage.

Only 30 minutes pass when the lights go down and the boys hit the stage to the opening crunch of “You Really Got Me”. Dave and Eddie bounded onto the stage like they have been doing this forever. The energy from the stage was electric. The band was in fine form. Dave and Ed are both in tremendous shape and Alex continues to pound the skins with gusto. You could almost feel the crown dissect Wolfgang’s presence on stage. Well, the kid plays well, and is a pretty good backup singer. I don’t know if he could fill the energy and stage persona of the missing Michael Anthony, but an admirable job was put forth. Keep up the good work kid.

Each song from the band was met with thunderous applause from the crowd. Some of these songs have not been heard live for a long time. Having Mr. Roth back is the shot in the ass the band needed. Not to bash Sammy Hagar, but the past 10 years worth of Van Halen has been emotion free and energy free. Sammy may be the first to admit that, too.

As the band tore through songs from Van Halen I in what started out as almost a chronological time trip through their albums (yes I said albums dammit), each song was a welcome breath of high energy rock. By the time Dave screamed out “Somebody Get Me a Doctor”, the crowd was in the palm of his hand. Eddie wailed on some blues riffs that Dave would vocalize and they seemed to be really enjoying some of that comradery that they made famous so long ago. Dave kicked, wailed and strutted, his vocals sounding better and his smile getting bigger with each song. Eddie The band played gem after gem of long missed Van Halen. My only down time for the show was the drum solo. I guess I am just not a fan of that certain throwback. But Eddie’s guitar solo was certainly welcome. After seeing a train wreck of a solo on the last tour with Sammy, Eddie really redeemed himself. A nice long flashy and energetic version of “Eruption” and other Van Halen pyrotechnics, made this solo one the crowd favorites, though it was unusually placed towards the end of the set.

Dave gave us a cool story about from his youth (ice cream trucks used to store beer, joints passed around and the high quality of 1970’s weed) to lead off “Ice Cream Man”. Dave is no slouch on the guitar and the intro was great. Eddie’s guitar screamed as he and the band joined in. I true highlight for me. Afterwards they lead into the hits from 1984. “Panama” was great to here again, but the surprise was getting to hear “I’ll Wait”.

They closed with “Jump”. The crowd ate it up and the band took its’ bow. I hoped for one more encore, maybe “Hear about it Later” or “Top Jimmy”, but alas no additional encore. They had played a long stretch of songs, and I can only hope this band continues to tour. I will be first in line for tickets again. Lets hope I don’t have to wait another 22 years.

For those of you that are not really Van Halen fans, do those of us that are a favor and do not attend. If you didn’t like them before this, you won’t like them now. They are, aside from a small line-up change and some age, the same Van Halen we all fell in love with so long ago.

Here is a set list of songs. They are not in order, but I think I hit all the songs from the show. Anyone who has a complete and correct set list, please let me know.

  • You Really Got Me
  • Running with the Devil
  • I’m the One
  • Little Dreamer
  • Jaime’s Cryin’
  • Ice Cream Man
  • Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love
  • Eruption
  • Dance the Night Away
  • Somebody Get Me a Doctor
  • Beautiful Girls
  • …And the Cradle Will Rock
  • Everybody Wants Some
  • Romeo Delight
  • Meanstreet
  • Unchained
  • So This Is Love?
  • Oh, Pretty Woman
  • Little Guitars
  • Panama
  • I’ll Wait
  • Hot for Teacher
  • 1984
  • Jump

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