I can’t believe I’m about to change my position on an issue as important as this…
I think Sammy Hagar might be a better front man than David Lee Roth. Wow. Even now, I can’t believe I’m saying this. Last night’s Van Halen concert featuring Sammy Hagar changed everything. It took seventh row seats and permanent hearing damage to arrive at this conclusion, but I’m officially convinced.
This is not taking anything away from David Lee Roth. He’s a legend. He was one of the few rockers that gratuitously performed the splits on stage. He could pull off the look of sunglasses and a taxi driver’s cap better than anyone. And he put Van Halen on the map.
But after the electrifying show Sammy Hagar and the rest of Van Halen put on last night, I have a hard time envisioning anyone being able to top it. They played over three hours without a break. The audience stood and cheered the entire time. We were losing circulation in our legs and our bladders were uncomfortably full of beer, but nobody left for even a minute. Van Halen flat out rocked. I held a pretty tepid appreciation of Van Halen before last night, but my level of fandom shot up tremendously after seeing them live.
Here are some highlights of the evening in bulleted format…
- Eddie performed a 20-minute guitar solo. Twenty minutes. At one point he crawled into the fetal position and put his head next to a wall of speakers. His guitar screeched as the audience wondered if he was attempting to commit suicide through massive amounts of feedback. It was a stellar performance though. He played like he had bet the Devil his soul against a fiddle made of gold.
- My only complaint against Sammy Hagar was that he wore a pair of red Capri pants during the show. This bothered me the whole concert. I studied his pants closely, and honestly, I think my wife bought the same pair of pants at the GAP last weekend.
- The bass player had a bass guitar painted like a bottle of Jack Daniels. The best part was that his guitar functioned as a Pez dispenser for those little mini liquor bottles you see on airplanes. Periodically throughout the concert, he’d pop out a shot of whiskey, down half the bottle and throw the rest into audience. That, my friends, is showmanship.
- The band split evenly into shirts and skins. Eddie and Alex Van Halen went shirtless, apparently ready for a pickup game of basketball after the show.
- Rest assured, Eddie Van Halen is still the master of doing the jumping scissor kick while playing the guitar. He proved this time and time again.
- Midway through the concert, they announced the score of the Yankees-Red Sox game. Judging by the crowd’s reaction, apparently I am the only person on earth that was rooting for the Yankees. In my opinion, as impossible as this may sound, the Red Sox were less likable than the Yankees.
Let’s face it, most of the Red Sox players look like juvenile delinquents. If you removed their hats, it wouldn’t surprise me to see curse words shaved into their hair. I don’t know, all the wild haircuts, punk behavior, scruffy goatees… They looked like they belonged at a skate park instead of on a baseball diamond. (I know, I know, as the bumper sticker on the Allen family minivan proclaims: “Skateboarding is Not a Crime!!“) The Yankees on the other hand, looked clean-shaven and professional. They looked like they could have been heading to a job interview after the game. Sometimes it’s just nice to see the team with better grooming habits win. I’ll leave it at that.
- Remember the scene in the movie “Old School” where Vince Vaughn performs a gymnastics routine while smoking a cigarette? It is arguably the funniest scene in the movie. Anyway, at one point Eddie lit a cigarette and performed his usual jumps and spins around the stage. It was probably the closest thing I’ve witnessed in real life that essentially duplicated that scene from the movie. There were 10,000 people screaming wildly in the arena that night, but I think I was the only one holding in laughter.
- Throughout the concert, several girls threw their bras and panties up on stage. Sammy would collect these undergarments, hold them up for the crowd, and then drape them over his mic stand. I had no problem with any of this.
- Like a lot of aging rockers, Eddie Van Halen, sadly, is looking a little fried. The few times he addressed the crowd, he mumbled, rambled and managed to say things that were completely unintelligible. Granted, he’s far more coherent than Ozzy Osbourne, but at the same time, I’m not sure if that is a yardstick you want to measure yourself against.
- At one point, an audience member threw a giant banner onto the stage that read: “Sammy for President.” Seizing the moment, Sammy waved it around onstage for several minutes and then tied it around his waist like a sarong. I think I speak for most people when I say this: Provided his whiskey-swilling bass player was his running mate, this is one Presidential ticket we could all get behind.