I've seen many rock bands in my day, including Led Zeppelin, Queen, Aerosmith, Kiss (seven times!), Foghat, Ted Nugent, the Outlaws, Bob Seger, Nazareth, the New York Dolls, Uriah Heep, Def Leppard, Black Sabbath, and Ozzy Osbourne, but there are two bands I have always regretted not seeing: The Who and Van Halen. You guessed it. I finally saw one of them. This past Wednesday, Katherine and I journeyed to the American Airlines Center in Dallas to watch Van Halen. David Lee Roth has rejoined the band after many years, though the original bass player, Michael Anthony, has been replaced by Wolfgang Van Halen (Eddie's son).
We parked our car in Richland Hills (north of Fort Worth) and took the Trinity Railway Express to Dallas. Why fight traffic and pay for parking when you can sit back and enjoy the ride? The crowd, as expected, was middle-aged, as I am. Almost nobody moved during the concert, which was odd. Thirty years ago, the same people would have been dancing in the aisles. Many of us are now professionals: doctors, lawyers, accountants, professors, engineers, corporate executives. Whatever happened to letting your hair down? I felt funny just grooving to the music in my seat. There's no way I can stay still while listening to Van Halen.
Speaking of seats, ours were good, as you can see by clicking the image in this post. Our view of the screen was partially obscured by speakers, but we could see the band members on stage with no trouble. David Lee Roth is full of energy, though his voice has weakened and he no longer makes acrobatic jumps. He looks fit. His hair is short and he spent 10 minutes describing (and showing on the screen) his herding dogs while strumming a guitar (a prelude to "Ice Cream Man"). Eddie Van Halen played a mean guitar solo (including "Eruption"), while his brother Alex pounded the drums with abandon. Wolfgang was surprisingly good on bass and backing vocals, though I would have preferred to see Michael Anthony, for old time's sake.
All in all, we had a great time. Kool and the Gang (all 11 members!) warmed up the house by playing "Celebration" and many other songs. Van Halen played 24 songs, which is more than I expected. Here is the setlist, which I compiled on my iPhone during the concert and checked against an Internet setlist I found:
01. Unchained (Fair Warning, 1981)
02. Runnin' with the Devil (Van Halen, 1978)
03. She's the Woman (A Different Kind of Truth, 2012)
04. Romeo Delight (Women and Children First, 1980)
05. Tattoo (A Different Kind of Truth, 2012)
06. Everybody Wants Some!! (Women and Children First, 1980)
07. Somebody Get Me a Doctor (Van Halen II, 1979)
08. China Town (A Different Kind of Truth, 2012)
09. Hear About It Later (Fair Warning, 1981)
10. (Oh) Pretty Woman (Diver Down, 1982)
11. Drum Solo
12. You Really Got Me (Van Halen, 1978)
13. The Trouble with Never (A Different Kind of Truth, 2012)
14. Dance the Night Away (Van Halen II, 1979)
15. I'll Wait (1984, 1984)
16. And the Cradle Will Rock . . . (Women and Children First, 1980)
17. Hot for Teacher (1984, 1984)
18. Women in Love . . . (Van Halen II, 1979)
19. Beautiful Girls (Van Halen II, 1979)
20. Ice Cream Man (Van Halen, 1978)
21. Panama (1984, 1984)
22. Guitar Solo
23. Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love (Van Halen, 1978)
24. Jump (1984, 1984)
Here are the songs by album:
Van Halen: 4
Van Halen II: 4
Women and Children First: 3
Fair Warning: 2
Diver Down: 1
A Different Kind of Truth: 4
I had hoped to hear "In a Simple Rhyme," but I guess you can't have it all.
Addendum: I don't mean to imply that every fan was middle-aged. There were plenty of young people as well, including some who weren't born when the first Van Halen album was released in 1978. In fact, as we stood in the lobby sipping our drinks before the concert started, we saw what appeared to be three generations walking past: a man about my age; a man young enough to be his son; and a boy young enough to be his grandson. All were wearing Van Halen T-shirts. Like grandfather like father like son!