Van Halen leave on a high-note

By Kristi Alexandra
[culture editor] 

Eddie Van Halen's facemelting riffs more than made up for Diamond Dave's lack of sparkle. JACOB ZINN/THE RUNNER.

It might be time for Diamond Dave to trade up his mic stand for a cane.

If Monday night’s show at Rogers Arena was any indication, an aging David Lee Roth is slowing down what could be the most electrifying reimagining of Van Halen to date—and yes, better than the band’s 2007 reunion.

Kicking off with “Unchained”, Roth’s vocal talents and lithe movements of yesteryear seemed to be a little rusty. It would only be a matter of time until he blew off the dust, we hoped, as the band launched into “Runnin’ With the Devil”.

Eddie Van Halen, along brother Alex Van Halen on drums and son Wolfgang Van Halen on bass, played seamlessly as the backing band to what seemed like a bad karaoke night for Roth.

The band chugged through “She’s the Woman”, “Romeo Delight”, “Tattoo” and more as Roth proclaimed to a lusty young woman in the front row that: “I was making sex tapes before you even existed…I could be your father!”

That wasn’t the only moment that Roth attempted to relive his glory days, as he dipped down to do the splits in his leather bellbottoms a few times before it looked like he might be close to pulling his groin. His once nimble and lascivious dance moves translated more into a charming begginers yoga practice.

A cover of Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” preceded a captivating drum solo from Alex Van Halen, while Roth went back for a costume change. Van Halen launched into another cover, this time The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me”.

Crowd pleasers “Hot For Teacher”, “Beautiful Girls” and “Panama” amped up the audience, even if Diamond Dave couldn’t give them the gusto we’d hoped for.

It was Eddie Van Halen’s face-melting solos that integrated songs “Cathedral” and “Eruption” which might have saved the night for fans who paid up to $130 per ticket. That 10-minute solo was worth the trip out of the living room alone.

The guys barely teased us with encore number “Jump”, featuring a good effort to high kick on Roth’s part, leaving the audience to scamper out at exactly 11 p.m.

It would be well-advised for Roth to retire and spend some time relaxing after the band’s tour. Lord knows he’s earned it.

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