Sunday, August 3, 2008


With great apprehension I once again chose a bootleg from the 2004 reunion tour for my Saturday night concert. Van Halen with Sammy at the helm, held in Denver at the Pepsi Center on Sunday night August 1, 2004, almost exactly four years ago to the day. The Denver Post reported:

"Fans flailed for a band that sounded as tight as ever and performed several of its signature songs. They weren't innovative, but the foursome flexed rock 'n' roll authority. Too bad Van Halen doesn't have much new material to work with."

"Eddie Van Halen's fret shredding rang out in darkness to open the show, followed by Hagar bellowing a gritty, ominous version of The Big Bopper greeting, "Hello, baaaby."Then an explosion of stage lights, and a shirtless and glistening Eddie Van Halen stood front and center with his guitar. His brother sat on a drum riser behind him. Anthony and Hagar stomped around him.Hagar has said in recent interviews that he has embraced the band's early catalog because not performing those songs would be an injustice to the band's longtime fans."

"Although Anthony's voice after an onstage chug from a Jack Daniels bottle sounded weak during "Somebody Get Me a Doctor," he's still one of rock's top bassists."

"Hagar remains atop his game. The man's stage presence is undeniable, and his gravelly delivery is tailor-made for rock 'n' roll. He won bonus points Sunday by accepting gifts and signing autographs from the stage. The crowd also relished his solo performance of "Eagles Fly."

Both the recording and the show were of fairly good quality. Yes, Sammy's voice was a little rough, but not unlike what came out of the 1995 tour. Michael Anthony was largely invisible, except for his few minute "Base Solo" that droned on. Eddies guitar solo was different from years past in that it seemed as though he was innovating the sound as he went along, as confirmed by his statement to radio hosts "I was actually writing on stage, coming up with stuff while I was playing". It showed here in Denver, beginning the solo with the request "Five minutes, let me fuck around".

This apparent "sloppiness" in his performance, when compared to the disciplined playing of yesteryear may also be attributable to the drinking. Sammy said "He was pretty out of it the whole tour. There were nights when I didn't even know what song he was playing. Nobody else did either. We just stayed on the same song while he stumbled around the neck of the guitar." This may simply be Sammy talking smack, because by the end of the tour they were ready duke it out on stage. Long simmering animosity had once again resurfaced.

A young Wolfgang Van Halen joins his Dad for a portion of the guitar solo. Preparing him for the day he will replace Michael on the 2007/2008 tour.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed the show from beginning to end. I'm sure drinking that flask of tequila played a role in this sense of well-being.

Eddie's five minutes
Plays unfamiliar sounds
Let him fuck around

The single spotlight
King of the guitar solo
Hearts chant for Eddie

Looks up to his eyes
Times discipline is passed on
Father to his son

A world of false demands
Placed the shackles on his feet
He sleepwalks through life

That's guitar legend Eddie Van Halen arriving at the Elton John's Academy Awards Viewing Dinner and After-Party in Hollywood in 2006. This photo shows the extent of his decline over the years and spawned many humorous, although sad, comments regarding this rock legend:

"Remember when Eddie was cool? While I'd like to be able to blame his downward spiral on Valerie Bertinelli, it looks like years of drug abuse have been hard on Eddie. He looks like a street-dwelling meth addict, which he may in fact be...

"Look carefully at his right hand (to the left on the picture); doesn't it look like Eddie is holding his dentures?"

The above remark prompted a radio interview reply, equally amusing, which can be listened to here:

Here are how some people have used this picture for their and our amusement, along with others poking fun at the band.

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