Rock of aging: Why Van Halen concert reek of repetition

03/26/15 by Rennie Detore



As much as I love Eddie Van Halen and the band that is his namesake, I'm having a hard time getting overly excited about the announcement that a tour is imminent.
Yes, Van Halen, arguably one of the greatest rock bands of all time, came out of hibernation after six or seven years and decided it was time to resurface and release a live CD, and begin the media tours to promote an upcoming tour.
They'll play the "Ellen" show in a week, and they'll be on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" on Monday, and longtime fans of Eddie Van Halen, the greatest guitar player of all time, and the rest of the band, including son Wolfgang Van Halen on bass (who's been there since 2008) undoubtedly will be fawning all over every note, cord and lyric the band serves up en route to hitting the road.

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Except this one.
I am a massive Van Halen fan, and truly marvel at the showmanship of front man David Lee Roth and, of course, the sheer talent of Eddie Van Halen and the brutality and crispness of the often overlooked drummer, Eddie's brother Alex Van Halen.
But if I'm being honest, this tour isn't really much to anticipate if you truly take a longer, harder look beyond your starstruck eyes and the propensity to embrace nostalgia.
Van Halen is touring after releasing a live album. Honestly, so what? Yes, Van Halen is one of the greatest live bands on all time, but anyone who has taken a listen to this new disc simply can't get past how dreadful Roth's vocals are on this album. He never really was a fantastic singer; his charisma at the height of his Van Halen run often took precedent over being an average tune carrier.
Roth is downright bad on this live CD, to the point that it's actually hard to listen to as he struggles to hit high notes and talks through most of the lyrics. The 2008 tour, after the release of "A Different Kind of Truth," released in 2012, featured Roth's not so spectacular vocals but at the time they were at least adequate. Now, they're flat out bad.
And speaking of that 2012 release, where is the new music Eddie always speaks of? Any time Eddie is interviewed, he always seemingly talks about how much music he's written or that he is constantly writing. So, where is it?
I'm a big proponent of tours being scheduled and put together as part of the release of new music. Van Halen has nothing new to offer fans that already watched them tour on two separate occasions when they first got back to together with Roth seven years ago (again, without any new music, but that can be forgiven based on Roth being brought back for the first time since 1984, and no the 1996 faux reunion doesn't count) and again when "Truth" was released.
Both instances can be forgiven and forgotten for the reasons listed, but there's no plausible explanation why the band is touring to support essentially a live greatest hits album.
Van Halen enthusiasts will show up in droves to support the legendary band, and that's perfectly fine. They'll argue that this may be it for the band, and they don't want to miss that swan song of a tour. For my money, I'll simply recall the 2008 tour fondly and be perfectly fine if that's the last time I saw them perform live.

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