Monday, June 11, 2012


After attending the Van Halen show at the Pepsi Center and seeing once again what made the band great, I was once again hooked and needed a second fix. We ain’t talkin' 'bout love, this is bordering on obsession. Wanting to dance the night away after somebody got me Doctor Roth who prescribed a shot, or two. It led to buying a ticket and an airplane reservation. Destination Los Angeles.

After waiting impatiently for two weeks, Saturday arrived and it was time to go. I got on board the 1:30 PM Southwest flight and was in LA shortly after 3 their time. Checked into the hotel and then off to dinner. I arrived at the Staples Center by 6:30 and smoked a cigar outside in a throng of people in what appears to be one of LA’s hubs of entertainment. The place was swarming with police, their presence being felt blocks away. The outdoor PA system was playing VH1.

It was time to go in and claim my seat. As I stood in line I began feel the secret stash of tequila dripping into my shoe. After I made it through the metal detector and security, a trip to the bathroom revealed that more than half the drink was gone, replenished with very expensive double shots bought at the bar. By the time I got to my seat another sizable portion of the tequila I brought in soaked my pants pocket. I reeked of alcohol, even before I took my first drink. However, my intake that evening was carefully measure to avoid crossing the line which could only spell trouble.

I was seated on the floor, row 8 in the center of the stage, right between where Dave and Eddie stand. I couldn’t have asked for anything better! Kool and the Gang did a great job warming up the crowd with their catchy dance music. I still find myself running one or two of their tunes through my head. They started the party with their 11 member band on stage. After a quick set change, the Staples Center filled to capacity and the Van Halen took the stage to thunderous cheering, playing to their home town crowd. Everyone was on their feet for the remainder of the evening. From that point on I never stopped dancing in front of that folding chair behind me. I was in another world.

There was no need to watch the giant video screen behind the stage this evening, because I could see everything happening clearly on stage: Dave’s giant, stupid grin, Eddie concentrating on his guitar, Alex thrashing the drums, and Wolfgang throwing big smiles at his dad. There’s no mistaking that all is well between Dave and Eddie. Spending the extra money was well worth it.

Two hours goes by much too quickly and before I knew it, the closing sounds of Jump were in the confetti filled air. A final bow and the band is gone. Lights on and the crowd thins out. I want to linger but the Staples Center staff herd everyone out. I return to planet Earth when I step out into the cool night air in what is now a largely vacant Staple Center/Nokia Theater entertainment complex. I head to my usual late night spot at the Pantry Cafe down the street, where a waiting line stretches down the sidewalk. I’m single so I immediately get a seat at the counter. It felt good to drink liquids again followed by an early morning breakfast omelet. Back at the hotel I smoke a cigar on the fire escape but exhaustion sets in and I’m in bed sometime after 1 AM.

Up by 7:30 for a quick shower. I pack while watching the beginning of Private Ryan on TV. The streets are largely empty this Sunday morning as I look for a cup of coffee. I take Metro Rail back to the airport where I catch my 12:30 flight, finding myself back home by 4 PM. It’s all a dream now.

If indeed this was Van Halen's last Los Angeles concert, the foursome did not disappoint. The goup played 24 songs beginning with "Unchained" and finishing two hours later with "Jump," and every selection was a winner.

On "Everybody Wants Some," Roth was at his lascivious best. On "Panama," Alex Van Halen was hitting the drums so hard that you could feel the beats against your skin. On "Runnin' With the Devil," bassist Wolfgang Van Halen was standing on the stage riser for the intro riff, pounding the strings for all he was worth.

And on the extended guitar solo "Eruption," Eddie Van Halen -- Wolfgang's father -- was his usual amazing self, once again proving he is, unquestionably, among the very best in world. His fingers were like a blur, and the sounds were beautiful.

The crowd ate it up.

Everyone was singing along to "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love" and "The Cradle Will Rock," and even the selections from new CD "A Different Kind of Truth" went over well, particularly "Tattoo."

Van Halen came, they saw, they conquered. In turn, we paid money, swilled beer and pumped our fists. A perfect night of rock 'n' roll from one of America's all-time most popular bands.

Read it all here:

Here's a clip of the up coming, soon to be available bootleg recording.  WOW!

Download it here, flac:

Download it here, mp3:

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