Van Halen Wins Ohio’s Love All Over Again: Review + Photo Gallery
Reports of Van Halen's demise as a viable live concert attraction would seem to have been greatly exaggerated, as the apparently quite unified band put on a thrilling show for 12,000 fans at Ohio's Blossom Music Center earlier this week.
You can understand why fans would have some doubts, what with early tour reviews suggesting David Lee Roth was totally out of snyc with his bandmates and largely out of control of his (admittedly never world-class) vocal abilities. Plus, there was guitarist Eddie Van Halen's bomb-dropping Billboard interview from just before the tour's launch, where he said Roth "does not want to be my friend" and "doesn't want to come to the table" to make a new album.
But there the two were, arms locked as they spun in a playful circle before ripping into the opening "Light Up the Sky," and trading smiles the rest of the night while taking fans on a well-paced 23-song tour through their recorded catalog. Yes, Roth's voice and a song's intended melody would part ways from time to time, and a couple numbers that relied most heavily on his voice to carry the load (like "Little Guitars" and "In a Simple Rhyme") would have to be counted as lost rounds even on the most charitable judge's scorecard.
But the band (Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang Van Halen) sounded incredible, and Roth effortlessly commanded the stage with charisma, wit and experience. He's working tastefully and smartly with what he's got – without naming names, there are certainly singers on tour this summer doing a much worse job of dealing with diminished vocal abilities.
Plus, his nostalgic between-song stories of the band's early days, particularly before "Ice Cream Man," served as a nice reminder of how much work it took for the band to reach their lofty perch in life. Who knows what the future will bring for Van Halen? But based on their criminally ignored studio reunion with Roth and their performance at this show, it's far too early to count them out yet.
Van Halen Albums: Ranked Worst to Best