Photos by G.
Van Halen! The rockers performed a sold out show at New York’s Madison Square Garden on February 28, 2012. The show began at 7:30 with one of the oddest pairings for an opening act that I’ve ever seen – Kool and the Gang. While they sounded great, it was definitely the wrong vibe to establish before watching a rock and roll concert. For those wondering, Kool and the Gang performed Jungle Boogie, Ladies Night, Fresh, Emergency and Celebration during their 45 minute set. Van Halen took the stage around 8:50 (instead of the posted time of 9 PM) and had the crowd on their feet for the entire show, which is an accomplishment not all bands playing the same venue can make happen.
David Lee Roth is back as lead singer after a long absence and it was great to see him strutting his stuff on stage. He sparingly did his signature high kick in the air, but he can still do it and Van Halen can still rock. We’ve all gotten used to their songs as part of our lives, but when you hear these songs performed by the band that wrote them as 20,000 people sing along is a pretty cool thing. The show brought out the inner rock-star geek in all of us and you could see people playing air guitar throughout the arena. Drummer Alex Van Halen and guitar god Eddie Van Halen each did 5 minute solos and they are both still so incredible! They made their intricate playing look effortless and the crowd loved every second of it.
The band played a lot of new material off 2012’s “A Different Kind of Truth,” including the first single “Tattoo.” Though the songs sounded pretty good in an arena setting, the material breaks no new ground and probably does not work as well in the iPod generation. But aside from the new songs, Van Halen played pretty much every hit (from the David Lee Roth era) that you could hope to hear including their famous cover of Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “Ain’t ‘Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” “Hot For Teacher,” “Panama,” “I’ll Wait,” “Jump,” and “Running With The Devil.”
David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen appeared to be having a great time on stage and DLR’s on-stage banter to the crowd seemed unscripted and at times rambling causing Eddie Van Halen to fall out laughing several times. If there are still tensions in the band, they disguised them pretty well and they showed no signs of slowing down. Instead of leaving the stage and coming back for an encore, the band never left the stage and concluded their nearly 2 hour set with the 1984 classic “Jump.” As of press time, we don’t know what the future of Van Halen will be, so if you enjoy their music, you’d better check them out on this tour. It’ll be worth it!
See the setlist after the jump.