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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisThe rumor mill regarding Van Halen's solidarity may be spinning after botched TV appearances, bad blood in the press and an underperforming new live album, but once the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre house lights dimmed and the crowd went berserk to the beats of "Light Up The Sky," it may as well have been 1984 all over again. Indeed, everyone made a gallant attempt to get along (at least in front of the cameras) and there was more musical chemistry in real life than could be captured "Tokyo Dome Live In Concert."
Granted, David Lee Roth didn't nail all his notes during the two ensuing hours (stocked with a similar set list), but his quirky charisma as one of rock's most over top front men remains, especially when blended with the world class rhythm section of guitarist Eddie Van Halen and drummer Alex Van Halen, plus Eddie's son Wolfgang on bass. And together, that meant balls to the wall renditions of classics like "Runnin' With The Devil" and "Everybody Wants Some!!" through fairly muscular newer tunes "She's The Woman" and "Chinatown" (along with something off literally every Roth-fronted project in between).
Outside of more than 20 collective cuts, the three veteran members also showcased their solo chops, from Alex's untitled but prodigious drum solo to Roth's acoustic guitar/harmonica take on "Ice Cream Man" (loaded with outrageous rock star antidotes and textbook one-liners like "when I die, I want you to sprinkle my ashes over the 1980s"). Of course, Eddie's chainsaw-styled "Eruption" got everyone fired up prior to a forceful cover The Kinks "You Really Got Me," though it was perhaps the most noticeable instance of Roth seeming out of step with his otherwise flawless bandmates.
Nevertheless, the pandemonium reached a fever pitch by the pummeling "Panama" and the euphoric "Jump," the latter of which was hands down the commercial pinnacle throughout the band's entire three singer-spanning history thus far. Roth may have skipped his high kick from the iconic music video, but Eddie's snarling solo and Alex's cannonball backbeat once again revealed just how much instrumental vitality Van Halen still possesses, in addition to uninhibited aggression that could easily run circles around players half their age.
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