with Kool and the Gang
April 11, 2012
Better than: VH with Sammy Hagar, even though he's a fellow Arab-American (sorry, brother).
Somewhere between "I'll Wait" and "Hot for Teacher," Diamond Dave had a diva moment.
It was one of those times when you watch something happen and then wonder to yourself, Wait, that was for serious?
During "You Really Got Me," it became clear that something was off with David Lee Roth -- who is again fronting Van Halen on tour and on its newest album, A Different Kind of Truth. Sure he'd dropped the mic stand he'd been twirling like a baton and flossing his crotch with during the second song, but it was during the Kinks' cover that Roth was lazy singing. Like he didn't remember the words.
The diva moment came from nowhere. He yelled something about the "Fuckheads running these blowers." He was referring to the fans blowing onstage. He looked like he was going to attack someone, screaming and threatening, saying fuck too much.
His tone changed. He nicely explained to the audience that it was like a refrigerator up there and that they didn't want to get sick, and we'd all paid good money to see the show. He yelled again at these "blower" people, telling them to "fucking stop it and just disappear... I'm not fucking with you." Then he just started in, calling himself Mr. Roth and welcoming us to class.
During "Women in Love," he admitted, "I've been drinking," and it was like, Yes, that's what's happening here. He's not just old and crazy. He's sloshed.
Roth is one of the goofiest, quirkiest, show-pony frontmen of all time. He's weird and wonderful. He dresses like a toned-down Liberace. He came out sparkling in a suit and almost-neon blue buttoned-down and at one point was wearing the red blazer Michael Jackson used to don when he hung out with Bubbles or when he was in "Beat It."
He flamenco-danced. He pointed at his crotch. He kicked and twirled and jumped. He described the different kinds of Hispanics he's encountered in Southern California and how they each dance (pandering a bit to the SoFla audience, saying cono, loca). He put on Roy Orbison shades during "Pretty Woman," and he showed us his ass tattoo of a gun.
He's fabulous, and sometimes fabulous people get drunk before they go onstage.
Although Roth was the show's main entertainment, Eddie Van Halen was the main talent. Everyone came to drool over him and his skills. Alex Van Halen also showed us a thing or two from behind his glowing drum set, even presenting what Roth called a "tropical" solo at one point (pandering, but in a good way). Eddie's son Wolfgang walked about with a baby face and bass, singing with his father.
Eddie Van Halen's smile was in constant effect. Roth said to him at one point, "Is that the lights, or is that your smile?" It's true; he was the cutest thing onstage. At one point, he played the guitar solo we'd been waiting for. Is EVH the best guitarist of all time, as his fans say? Let's just say this: Eddie plays the guitar better than you, your dad, your cousin, and probably your favorite living guitarist. Eddie Van Halen makes it look easy to play like Eddie fucking Van Halen.
During the solo, he sat down, just showing off, getting all psychedelic and just generally being awesome. The screen behind the stage showed his fingers smoothly moving all sexily over the guitar. Roth came out and called him "Winner and still champion of the free world," whatever that means.
Kool and the Gang
opened for Van Halen. Not the obvious choice, but those guys definitely have that same showy, flamboyant, and good-times energy that Roth embraces. VH is pretty funky and bluesy too. Kool and the Gang came out dancing and dressed like it was 1975, playing the horns, the cowbells. They enthusiastically peacocked for the crowd, funked it up. One of the members, not younger than 55, turned a cartwheel. It was a celebration to say the least.
Van Halen performed new and old material. For all of the VH T's in the place, the audience didn't seem pumped until "Panama." People started getting into it when Roth came out with an acoustic guitar to start on "Ice Cream Man." The encore scene was funny because Roth said he didn't want to leave the stage and just gave us our encore, which was "Jump," of course. A fucking classic. The show ended with a buttload of confetti raining down and a gigantic racing flag flying onstage.
We all know, though, that the spectacle wasn't the red and white paper blanketing the crowd or even the songs we knew all the words to but, of course, the ever-fab David Lee Roth.
Personal bias: When I was like 2, "Jump" was one of my favorite songs and videos. I've waited almost my whole life to see him perform it. I love DLR, even though his performance was a little slurry. I want him to be the godfather of any children I might have. Eddie Van Halen is a total cutie.
The crowd: White folks in band T-shirts, mostly, but there was a range of ages. They could have been livelier.
Overheard: "You're hot" and "You're sexy," told to me at the food court area by the two youngest boys at the concert (don't hate). They happened to be sitting one person down from me and enjoyed the show more than anyone else in the theater.
She's the Women
Everybody Wants Some
Somebody Get Me a Doctor
You Really Got Me
Dance the Night Away
Hot for Teacher
Women in Love
Outta Love Again
Ice Cream Man
Ain't Talking 'Bout Love
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