Photos by: Rich Frollini
Whether or not Eddie Van Halen wants to be David Lee Roth’s friend, they got along just fine at First Niagara Pavilion last night in Burgettstown, PA. The legendary rockers rolled into town on their 2015 North American tour and put on a great show despite reports from previous cities that the band is dysfunctional at best and struggling to keep it together. Roth’s first few words of the evening were “It feels like one big happy fucking family tonight!” And happy it was. The crowd had been eager for the arrival of Van Halen to the stage since Kenny Wayne Shepherd finished a great opening set.
Eddie and Alex Van Halen rocked through song after song. Eddie’s son Wolfgang helped Uncle Alex with the rhythm section as he pounded out bass lines formerly played by the band’s original bassist Michael Anthony, who’s 2007 dismissal is a sore subject for some diehard VH fans. And what can you say about one of the greatest rock frontmen of all time? David Lee Roth put on a spectacle with his flashy outfits, leg kicks and splits. While he doesn’t have the vocal range that he did back in the 70’s, the man can still command the crowd’s attention with his on-stage antics.
Opening the show with “Light Up the Sky,” “Runnin’ With the Devil” and “Romeo Delight” – it was apparent that these four guys came to kick ass and have a good time. It was an extremely tight sounding performance from anyone with the last name Van Halen, and Diamond Dave put on a great show out front as well. Sure some of the higher register notes had to be brought down an octave, but hey it’s not 1978 any more. Dave was definitely performing way above the expectations of some of his critics.
The roughly two hour set took the crowd back through the best era of Van Halen’s catalog with hits such as “Drop Dead Legs,” “I’ll Wait,” “Unchained” and it wouldn’t be a Van Halen concert without Eddie and Alex each pulling off their fantastic guitar and drum solos. David Lee Roth had some fun at the expense of a female fan in the front row, which got a good laugh out of the crowd. He said “You look familiar… Do I know your mother?” And he then proceeded to tell her “Daddy’s going to work now, we’ll talk about your homework during ‘Hot For Teacher’.”
Finishing out an amazing set with the Kinks cover “You Really Got Me” and the hard hitting “Panama,” the only way to close out the night was with a single-song encore of their smash hit “Jump.” Now there weren’t any high-flying scissor kicks off of the drum riser, but that didn’t stop the fans from letting out a roaring cheer as one of the greatest rock bands ever showed them that they can still rock. No pyrotechnics or extravagant props necessary… Just pure rock!
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