When it was announced that Van Halen were going to tour this summer and the Philly area was gonna get a dose of VH, social media exploded with anxious people waiting until August 27, 2015 would roll around. That was the date the band was going to play an outdoor show at the venue in Camden that changes it’s name every two years. It was summertime and people were anxious to see a summertime band and Van Halen fit the bill perfectly.
There were some skeptics that thought it would be a 90 minute greatest hits yawn fest. Wrong. Two plus hours of material that was locked away in the VH vault is what was delivered to Camden last night. Songs like “Little Guitars”, “Dirty Movies”, Light Up the Sky”. All the good stuff that is on your Van Halen records sandwiched in between the hits that everyone knows. Yes, of course “Runnin With the Devil” was played as was “Unchained” and the obligatory “Ice Cream Man”, and so was “Eruption”, but those were expected. It was unexpected that the band cancel a nearby show at Hershey Park. David Lee Roth had the flu. Fans that bought tickets for the Hershey show could get a full refund and a free ticket to the Camden show. Class act.
Speaking of David, he was in great shape, and somethings have changed with him and others stayed the same. Gone were the kicks he used to do in time with the music, and he looks nothing like he did in the 1980’s. He went through several wardrobe changes last night as well. He started the show in a vest and pants and a lime green top. He does not rap as he used to, about sex drugs and rock and roll. Back in the day it would roll on for 15 minutes at a time about the latest girl he met. Not last night. He did however admonish a fan for throwing a beer on stage and stated he probably had sex with the man’s wife back in the day but that was it. Back in the day he would appear on stage in pants with most of the backside cut out. He remained fully clothed last night. Eddie Van Halen’s appearance changed as well, but not his playing. He was on top of his game last night.
This is the new version of Van Halen. Love it or leave it. It features Wolfgang Van Halen on bass. He gets an unfair rap because he is not Michael Anthony, the original bassist. He can hold his own and if indeed he was the original member and was replaced by Anthony, fans would be upset. Yes, Anthony was responsible for much of the Van Halen sound however he is no longer in the band. Deal with it.
No band sounds or looks the same like they did in the 1980’s. Fans that went to the 1980 Invasion in May 1980 at the Spectrum and judge the band last night based on this are not being fair to the band or themselves. This show rocked pure and simple. The set list was pure platinum. The only thing they could have done better was to add more tunes like “Fools” or Sinners Swing” .and stay on stage for three solid hours. During the show Roth could not hear properly out of his earpiece so he replaced it and even though the band was 3/4 of the way through Romeo Delight, they replayed the song in it’s entirety.
Opening the show was Kenny Wayne Sheppard They played a tight 45 minute set to a lot of empty seats, which is a shame as the people that later filled those seats deprived themselves of a tight blues based guitarist. Their vocalist Noah Hunt will be playing a solo show at Club Havana in New Hope in November of this year. If Van Halen is playing near you, go, especially if it is during the summertime.