Review and Photos by Terry MayerThe history of Van Halen almost seems like a soap opera. Original vocalist Dave Lee Roth was in, then out. Then 'red rocker' Sammy Hagar was in only to later surrender his job to some unknown singer. But wait, that's not all. Dave came back, although only for a mere two songs. Then it was rumored that Sammy was coming back again but then didn't, and yadda, yadda... But recently, out of the blue, these two former employees of Van Halen decided to join forces and leave the prospects of their former band behind.
At their recent visit to Milwaukee, Hagar opened the night with his high energy numbers "Cabo Wabo" and "Red," which set the pace for the rest of his show. With a somewhat new twist, the V.I.P. fans were seated onstage behind Hagar in the peanut gallery. As cocktail waitresses kept refreshing Sammy's drinks he hammered out old favs such as "Runaround," "Lockbox" and "Poundcake" to the delight of the crowd, before holding up a sign about two brothers that can't find forgiveness - taking an easy jab at Alex and Eddie Van Halen. Putting the pedal-to-the-metal on his signature number "I Can't Drive 55" Hagar and his band souped the show into overdrive, before the song "Mas Tequila" kept the evening's party frenzy flowing. "Dreams" and "Right Now" ended his turn at bat, and now it was David Lee Roth's turn.
Roth strutted out and immediately went into the Van Halen hit "Hot for Teacher." Shedding the one piece jump suit from his last time here, Dave looked better then he has in years. The Van Halen favorites "Running With the Devil" and "You Really Got Me," which went into a funk style guitar improv, had the fans dancing in the seats. But on the song "So This Is Love" the first ex-V.H. singer stumbled for his lyrics, before the crowd realized that he had forgotten not only these lines, but quite a few others throughout the evening as well.
"Pretty Woman," the song that was originally made famous by Roy Orbison was next. With his nimble leads the guitar player, who ironically looked and sounded like his former bandleader, seemed to carry a conversation with Roth as they went back and forth with one another. When he broke into "Yankee Rose," the only song performed that night from his solo material, he made it known why his career floundered since his departure from Van Halen. The slowest part of the night came as Roth strapped on an acoustic guitar for a little medley that flowed into a completely different version of Chicago bluesmen John Brim's "Ice Cream Man." This lull in the night's performance was short lived as the rest of the band pitched in and picked up their boss' slack.
The end of the night, however, brought on the one song everyone was waiting for "Jump." With Eddie's annoyingly dated keyboard part replaced with a refreshing lead guitar, it was fun to hear the 1984 hit once more.
In the end, Sammy was great - the kind of guy you would actually like to go out and party with. He had a great mixture of solo stuff, along with his great covers from his work with Van Halen. Roth, on the other hand, seemed like a self-absorbed performer who only proved he could work an inebriated crowd. With missed cues -both lyrically and musically, his buffoonery wore thin and quick. Although coming from the same band at different points in their careers, the two seemed polar opposites when it came to their performances this night. Hagar made you want to grab a drink and join in the party, while Diamond Dave left the crowd thinking of excuses on how they could get out of attending his next invitation.
Return to Reviews
Return to Menu