Category: Van Halen

Van Halen at Staples Center: Arena rock in its natural habitat

Van Halen at the Staples Center on Friday, June 1.

Arena rock was made for moments like this: a killer sound system with amplifiers stacked high onstage and hanging from support beams, all aimed at a hometown crowd. A master drum kit placed on a glowing pedestal; a microphone stand at the center of an acre of stage, awaiting a lead singer itching to scream. 

All that was missing at Van Halen’s eagerly anticipated return to Los Angeles on Friday night at Staples Center were the Bic lighters, feathered hair, and a fleet of Trans Ams cruising up and down Figueroa. Well, that and a sense of cohesion.

This rock scene was laid out before the four-piece, born in Pasadena in 1972, like a feast, one that was four decades, a handful of break-ups, three lead singers, three bassists, and some legendary animosity in the making.

ALBUM REVIEW: Van Halen's 'A Different Kind of Truth'

This was the first L.A. stop on the band’s highly publicized, expertly marketed -- and recently scaled-back -- reunion tour. Van Halen and its original lead singer, David Lee Roth, appeared at Staples to remind a hometown population how and why they erupted from the Sunset Strip to become one of the biggest arena rock bands in the world.

But aside from a few oversized rock 'n' roll moments -- an impressive late-set guitar solo from co-founder Eddie Van Halen, an odd but engaging Alex Van Halen drum solo, some funny Roth quips, and the sheer thrill of witnessing four really good musicians/performers onstage offering up hit after glorious hit -- Van Halen’s grand return never really felt like it got going. It was instead interrupted at nearly every key moment by lesser songs from the band’s recent album, “A Different Kind of Truth." 

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David Lee Roth promises Van Halen to return, with monster trucks

David Lee Roth
Van Halen will be back, lead singer David Lee Roth promises, and when the band returns, it may be bringing along some extra heavy machinery.

In a video the band's posted (embedded below), it doesn't appear that Roth is using one of his colorful rock 'n' roll metaphors when he tells fans to expect a "super-sized monster-truck rally Van Halen tractor-pull sort-of-event" when the band eventually reschedules its 30-plus postponed tour dates. No clue as to what that means, but he says it will happen as "soon as the band learns to speak Australian."

"We're going to be bringing that back around through the United States," Roth says in the video, which he said was filmed in the woods just north of Minneapolis-St. Paul. The reformed '70s hard rock heavyweights will return home with a June 1 show at Staples Center, one of the dates that wasn't unexpectedly taken off the tour docket last week. 

Contrary to rumors that the famously volatile band isn't getting along, Roth said Van Halen is simply attempting to avoid exhaustion. "We bit off way more than we could chew, when it came to scheduling," Roth said. "The band is winning, but our schedule has been sidelined for unnecessary roughness."

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Van Halen cancels dates, but not in L.A.

Van Halen
When the happy fun buses that make up the reunited Van Halen tour roll into Southern California in early June, it may be a last opportunity fans have to catch the '70s metal giants on this tour. Dates on the band's summer tour, featuring the oft-feuding lineup of David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen and Alex Van Halen, as well as Eddie's son Wolfgang Van Halen, have been disappearing, canceled without so much as a statement from the band or any explanation from the promoter, Live Nation. 

Tickets are no longer on sale for gigs beyond a July 26 date in New Orleans. All told, about 30 dates appear to have been dropped from the tour roster. There is some hope that this isn't the end for the band, as the only information offered by the promoter is that the tour dates have been "temporarily postponed." That's different than saying they're "permanently postponed." 

Yet this trek felt perfunctory from the start. Yes, Van Halen can still, at this late stage in its career, be a powerful band. Live shows have been positively received as frill-free and energetically commanding, but new album "A Different Kind of Truth" hinted that this wasn't a band that had a real burning desire to continue to collaborate.

The songs, after all, were largely constructed and rejected 30 years ago. Roth earlier told The Times, "It's material that Eddie and I generated, literally, in 1975, 1976 and 1977."

Local fans can still travel back in time with the band. Concerts scheduled for June 1 and June 9 at the Staples Center are still, as of this moment, a go, and tickets are available. Speculation is that the tour is temporarily off due to in-fighting, as Rolling Stone quoted an unnamed source as saying, "The band is arguing like mad. They are fighting."

That's good news.

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David Lee Roth interviews Eddie and Alex Van Halen (peacefully)

David Lee Roth interviews Eddie and Alex Van Halen
In the most explicit effort so far to convey a sense that Van Halen's David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen and Alex Van Halen bear no ill feelings toward one another despite the long separation and the verbal tussles over the years, the three sat down together for a conversation in a recently released video clip.

Roth plays the part of interviewer to the brothers -- though he can't help but talk over them from time to time, being Diamond Dave, after all. They chat about their early years growing up in Holland before migrating to Pasadena, their early experiences with music, and how they came to their respective instruments.

On the video, Eddie recalls his time spent learning the piano as a tyke, then switching to drums, then, finally, to guitar. "I think it had a big impact on everything," Eddie says of the experiences, "because from piano I went to drums, and the percussiveness of piano is very drum-like."

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Album review: Van Halen's 'A Different Kind of Truth'

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On “A Different Kind of Truth,” the first studio album from Van Halen to feature original lead singer David Lee Roth since “1984,” the charismatic front man sings about trying to land that “stone cold sister soccer mom” he’s chasing in “Honeybabysweetiedoll.” But hooking up is the least of the challenges facing Diamond Dave and his bandmates in this year of their comeback.

Some of the higher hurdles: Can they pull off this reunion moment without killing each other? Can they convince their fans that bassist/son-of-the-guitarist Wolfgang Van Halen really has earned his place in the band and can lock in with drummer/uncle Alex Van Halen? And, most important to the band’s success, is guitar maestro/dad Eddie Van Halen still able to effortlessly dance his fingers up and down the neck of his instrument in ways that not only support his claim as one of the great rock guitarists but advances his craft in a meaningful way.

And then there’s the challenge of the marketplace: In the 28 years since Roth recorded a full album with Van Halen, the landscape has completely changed. When the band’s original lineup last released a record, home taping was “killing” music and the question was whether to buy “1984” on LP or cassette, or borrow a friend’s copy and tape over Foreigner “4.”

PHOTOS: Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth

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Van Halen lights up Henson Studios with an hour of rock

Van Halen at Henson Studios

Wednesday night at Henson Studios in Hollywood, a reunited Van Halen transformed real estate constructed in the silent film era by Charlie Chaplin into a high-tech rehearsal space and banged out a handful of very loud jams, old and new, for a few hundred VIPs. 

David Lee Roth, the ever-enthusiastic lead singer of the band, acknowledged the venue's history between songs: "It's a little bit crazy making so much noise in the temple of silent film here, in the name of Charlie Chaplin." Roth then added a little made-up history: "Most people don't know Charlie Chaplin was a major Van Halen fan. He inspired 'Hot for Teacher,' which we're going to play in a little while."

They indeed played it and more in an hour-long set for both industry bizzers and skeptical critics wondering whether a ragged bunch of aging dudes can still kick it with the kind of enthusiasm you’d hope, given both the anticipation -- and the fat paychecks each will be cashing in the coming year.

They can.

PHOTOS: Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth

Practicing for an American tour that commences in Louisville, Ky., on Feb. 18 and hits Staples Center on June 1,  Van Halen -- Roth, brothers Alex and Eddie Van Halen (drums and guitar, respectively), and the latter's son Wolfgang on bass -- has obviously been sweating to get its oldies back into shape.

Eddie's fingers remain loose and nimble -- even if he did rub his wrist a few times over the course of the evening. And Wolfgang and his uncle Alex are an incredibly sturdy rhythm section that over an hour-long teaser set jammed solid versions of the songs that made them scream-along rock heroes: "You Really Got Me," "Runnin' with the Devil," "Unchained," and "Dance the Night Away," among them. 

Too, the band is attempting to remain relevant for a new generation with a new album, "A Different Kind of Truth," that hits the stores on Tuesday. They teased the record, playing three new cuts, including the first single, "Tattoo," and "The Trouble with Never" and "She's the Woman," with varying degrees of success. (Let's just say that they went one-for-three, with "She's the One" being the tightest and most Van Halen-esque of the bunch.)

As the band was closing, Roth acknowledged the crowd and explained that because there wasn't a backstage, the encore -- if the crowd so desired -- would come without any pause in the action. And it did, in the form of "Jump," accompanied by an eight-person drum line and a dozen or so Vegas show girls. As Eddie ran through the classic solos, Roth and the showgirls whooped it up and danced along. 

And with that, Roth bid farewell, and drumline and girls led the crowd into the courtyard, where bartenders gave out free booze while the drummers pounded on.

Van Halen sure knows how to throw a party. 

RELATED: 

Van Halen announces new album, 2012 tour dates

When David Lee Roth talks, it's a different kind of truth

Van Halen announces tour (and, yes, David Lee Roth is singing) 

Updated: The original version of this post got the name of a new song wrong. It's titled "She's the Woman," not "She's the One," as was originally written. The post has been changed to reflect this.

-- Randall Roberts

Photo: David Lee Roth at Henson Studios in Hollywood. Credit: iPhone photo by Randall Roberts

L.A. ticket details released for Van Halen's comeback shows

Van Halen
Van Halen is back, asking deep questions and making up words. Take, for instance,  new single "Tattoo," as David Lee Roth asks, "Why is the crazy stuff we never say written in ink?" It's a wide-ranging rocker with nods to all aspects of the Van Halen fan base, with its old-fashioned guitar fills, images of fading ink, call-outs to stay-at-home mousewives who become tatted-up houswives (a "momshell," right?) and a final verse that references the working man. 

It could cost more than one of those "sexy dragon" tattoos Roth sings about in the band's comeback single (video below) to see Van Halen live, as tickets for the L.A.-area shows -- June 1 at Staples Center and June 12 at the Honda Center -- go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. via LiveNation.com. Tickets start at $29.50 and go up to $149.50, not including surcharges.

Multiple VIP packages will also be available, with prices in other cities ranging from $395 to $995. They include such perks as a pre-show party and backstage tour, among other Van Halen-branded goodies, and they are selling out. Those interested can seek out more information here, and VIP packages are on sale today to holders of American Express cards. 

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Van Halen announces new album, 2012 tour with Staples Center date

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A regrouped Van Halen has announced an extensive 2012 American tour that will carry the four-piece rock band across the country over five months, including a Staples Center concert on June 1, and a Honda Center gig in Anaheim on June 12.

The band, featuring David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, and Eddie's son Wolfgang Van Halen, will be touring in support of a new studio album called "A Different Kind of Truth," which will be released in the U.S. on Feb. 7 by Interscope Records.

During a brief set at New York's tiny Cafe Wha? on Thursday night, the band performed selections from its deep catalog, including "Panama," "Hot for Teacher," and "Jump," as well as a new song called "She's the Woman."  

The band, which sprung from Pasadena in the 1970s and paid its dues on the Sunset Strip, rose in the late 1970s and '80s to be one of the biggest rock bands in the world. After Roth left the band in 1985, Sammy Hagar took over vocal duties, followed by a brief stint in the '90s with Gary Cherone. Roth reunited with the band -- which by then had replaced longtime bassist Michael Anthony with Eddie's Van Halen son Wolfgang -- in 2008 for a troubled tour that ended with Eddie Van Halen in rehab.

Word started spreading in 2011 of a reunion, one that was confirmed at the end of the year when they released footage of rehearsals at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip. Whether the West Coast will see a tiny Cafe Wha? type show in the near future is unknown, but we've heard initial rumblings of something maybe happening in L.A. at the end of the month. 

For a full tour itinerary, read on.

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Van Halen announces tour (and, yes, David Lee Roth's singing)

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This post has been updated. See below for details. 

There are some universal truths that most rock fans can’t deny, be they punkers, funkers, rockers or metalheads: That at their prime in the 1970s and '80s, Van Halen was one of the greatest flat-out rock bands on the planet, and that the combination of David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen was a force of nature. The band, which rose in Los Angeles in the mid-'70s, announced on Monday an extensive 2012 tour -- minus bassist Anthony, unfortunately.

At their peak, the best rock band to ever come out of Pasadena had all the bases covered: As a rhythm section, Alex Van Halen and Anthony worked as a solid but fluid unit in support of Eddie with the magic riffs and fingers, who showboated his technique but understood the importance of a solid melody. (That’s him, remember, soloing on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.") And "Diamond" David Lee Roth: There was no better lead singer in all of rock in the '80s than Roth at his peak, a funny, charismatic charmer whose onstage scissor kicks created a template for dozens of lesser hair metal singers who arrived in his wake.

Van Halen's evolution has tested the limits of its fan base. There was that whole Gary Cherone nightmare of 1998; and, at the risk of taking sides in a long-running argument, the Sammy Hagar years are best left unmentioned. In 2007 three of the original members -- without Anthony, who was replaced on bass by Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen --  undertook part of a tour before canceling it midway through so Eddie, who was drinking heavily, could enter rehab. The aborted tour had been well received, and in 2010 rumors started flying about Van Halen being in the studio, and upcoming tour plans. The band signed to Interscope Records in November 2011.

No word yet on a release date for the record or specific stops on the tour. But videos on the band’s website say that tickets will go on sale on Jan. 10, and show a revived band doing their best approximation of its '80s peak -- absent, unfortunately, Anthony, swinging across the stage slugging Jack Daniels. And it’s a pretty good bet that Diamond Dave won’t be singing "Right Now," “Why Can’t This Be Love?” or anything else from the Van Hagar years.

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Updated: The original version of this misidentified the year in which Gary Cherone performed with Van Halen. It was 1998, not 2006. 

-- Randall Roberts

Photo: Van Halen's Eddie Van Halen, left, and David Lee Roth perform in 2008 in Las Vegas. Credit: Ronda Churchill / Associated Press

 

Sammy Hagar gives curious interview to MTV, claims to have been abducted by aliens

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Sammy Hagar, he of the Shirley Temple spiral curls and progenitor of such Van Halen hits as "Why Can't This Be Love," currently has a memoir out, "Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock." To promote his book, Hagar gave an interview to MTV's Hive, a new website from the music news monolith, and it is quite the read (sorry, no linkage due to lots of expletives, but you can easily find it). It's so curious/bananas/not syncing with our regular sense of reality that we checked the date to make sure it wasn't April 1 yet. While it's not April Fool's Day, it is, apparently, National Alien Abduction Day... and Hagar, it turns out, was abducted by aliens in what he refers to as a "download situation." And no, he's not talking about aliens pirating his music.

During the course of the lengthy interview, Hagar had the following golden nuggets to share:

On the band's sex tents, which were built under the stage and utilized during shows:

Honestly, I think it was the production team that built our stages. I think they just thought it was part of the deal. They were like, “Well, this is Van Halen. The guys must want sex tents, right?”

On David Lee Roth, his gigolo enemy famous for executing some of the most beautiful scissor kicks and in-the-air splits ever known to rock:

Straight up? He’s not a friendly guy. He’s not a nice guy at all. And he’s no freakin’ fun.

On his experience with "a ship and two creatures inside of this ship"...

It was real. [Aliens] were plugged into me. It was a download situation... Or they uploaded something from my brain, like an experiment. “See what this guy knows.”

On the vast totality of the universe:

You know how big the universe is? It’s freakin’ huge!

And there are many other fine moments in there, including what he did when he opened for KISS at Madison Square Garden in 1977. (Hint: A Stratocaster was destroyed.) Readers, the Internet does not always give you this kind of gift on a Monday morning. Please take advantage of it.

-- Margaret Wappler

Photo courtesy of It Books

 

 

 

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