Sunday, June 14, 2009


Saturday of siding. Measure. Cut. Haul it up the ladder. Check. Haul it down and trim. Haul it back up. Nail it onto the wall. Tap in the nails to just the right depth. Measure the next piece. Repeat over and over again. The rain shower moves in. Put the tools away. Wait. It clears. Haul the tools out again until the next shower moves through. Put the tools away. The sun comes out and continue working. Until shortly before sunset. I'm tired, my body is aching. Repeat on Sunday.

I literally forced myself after dark to load up the flask, grab a cigar and take the CD player outside to listen to Van Halen, their June 2, 2008 show in the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI. The very last show in the 2007/2008 tour. An excellent audience recording. A classic 2008 setlist performed with style, DLR never seeming to shut up during the whole performance except when Alex and Eddie did their solo time on stage.

Late that same evening, John Sinkevics of the Grand Rapid Press wrote:

There was a relaxed, energetic, pressure-free aura to the final show of Van Halen's tour with no special surprise guests or major setlist changes. Instead, the band tore confidently through its biggest hits, from "Runnin' With the Devil" to "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" to "Beautiful Girls" in a show that wasn't so much about the songs as it was about attitude and the way they're played on a loud and proud electric guitar.

Roth, once brutally described by music critic Dave Marsh as "the most obnoxious singer in human history," often lived up to that billing as he strutted the stage in goofy fashion in a loud pink jacket, waddling with a megaphone between his legs, making a "booty call," grabbing his crotch.But even if his voice seemed to lose its luster at times (sometimes even undermixed), Roth also made the perfect over-the-top, rock-star foil to Eddie Van Halen's tattered-jeans-style guitar wizardry, and even showed off some nice vocal chops on "I'll Wait."

Of course, it helps when your lead guitarist is a master of his instrument and seems awfully happy to be so, grinning unabashedly all night long, hopping up and down in red, hightop sneakers, churning out eye-popping, Lamborghini-quick riffs, actually looking healthy.

And there were plenty of father-and-son bonding moments, as Wolfie and his dad sang into the same microphone and traded smirks across the stage.

It all made it seem like there was plenty more life left in this version of Van Halen, even as rumors of another studio album continue to crop up.Roth referred to the band's story as an "epic" and a "saga," with some choice four-letter words thrown in for good measure.

"Hopefully, it won't be too long before we see you all along the road again," Roth declared.

So maybe Grand Rapids isn't the end of the line after all.

By the end of the show at midnight the exhaustion nearly put me to sleep, right there outside, body resting on the truck. By that time the Patron was simply a sedative. I craved sleep, dropping in bed as soon as the music stopped, filthy from sweat and saw dust from cutting siding all day.

The chain gangs hammer
His self imposed enslavement
Suffers aches and pains

Look to the heavens
Familiar friends have returned
One more year closer

No comments: