[Sunrise, FL] Veteran hard rock act Van Halen is currently out on the road to promote their first new studio full-length release in 15 years. They will make several stops in Florida, including Sunrise (April 10, sold out), Orlando (April 12), Tampa (April 14, sold out) and Jacksonville (April 16).
The new album, A Different Kind Of Truth, is a nod to their past, as the band went back to their forgotten demos from the early days, dusted them off, and recorded them for this new release. By all accounts the record is satisfying to longtime fans yearning for the sounds of yesteryear.
But there was a reason those songs didn’t make the cut back then, and consequently, those new-old tracks don’t quite hold up alongside classics like “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” and “Panama” in a live setting, according to concert reviews.
Nonetheless, both the new record and the supporting tour are a big deal, as far as the living history of American rock and roll goes. Without a doubt, Van Halen are musical icons – they’ve been one of the biggest and best of the rock genre since the seventies.
The current line-up includes original lead singer and one-time (still?) panty wetter David Lee Roth, but notably absent is long-time bassist Michael Anthony who was not invited back for the big reunion. Playing bass for the band now is Wolfgang Van Halen, the son of legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen and nephew to drummer Alex Van Halen.
Yes, for those of you doing the math, the band is now three-fourths Van Halen.
The hullabaloo surrounding this album and tour wouldn’t be happening if it wasn’t for the inclusion of Roth, who left the band after 1983′s blockbuster album 1984 to pursue a solo career. That solo career actually went pretty well, as did Van Halen’s subsequent hiring of Sammy Hagar as “Diamond Dave”‘s replacement.
But fans wouldn’t be quite as jubilant and eager to buy tickets if it was Sammy on the mic (although the “Van Hagar” catalog is still quite impressive). Everybody knows that it has taken the Van Halens decades to be able to have a conversation with Roth, let alone record an album and go on tour with him.
So, cherish the current album and tour while you can, rock fans, because we all know this won’t last forever.
(L-R) David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen and Alex Van Halen
Wait … Did You Say Kool & The Gang Is Opening?
Yes I did. Interestingly, the opening act for the current tour, which opened on February 18 in Louisville, Kentucky, is another throw-back act: pop-funk-R&B legends Kool & The Gang. You know, the guys behind the massive hits “Celebrate,” “Ladie’s Night” and “Jungle Boogie” (although we’re still trying to forget about that awful ballad “Joanna”).
Back in February, band co-founder Robert “Kool” Bell – a Central Florida resident – talked about how the odd pairing came about in an interview a few shows into the tour.
“[Van Halen singer David Lee Roth] saw our show in London last year for the big Glastonbury Festival and as they were putting together the Van Halen reunion tour, he went back to his camp and said, ‘Hey, man, I’d like to have Kool & The Gang open up for us,’” Bell said.
“They kind of felt it was a little strange in the beginning, but David kind of said, ‘Hey, I think it’ll work because in the ’80s, Van Halen was sort of like the rock party band and Kool & The Gang was the pop funk party band.”
So far, everything has worked out well, according to Bell.
“The beer-drinking Van Halen [fans] at the tour the other night, they came in and by the time Kool & The Gang finished ‘Ladies Night’, they were jumping up and down. So they might have been hardcore fans in the beginning, but it’s all kind of working out.”
Van Halen with special guests Kool & The Gang dates in Florida:April 10 @ BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise (sold out) April 12 @ Amway Center in Orlando (get tickets) April 14 @ Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa (sold out) April 16 @ Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville (get tickets)
David Lee Roth & Eddie Van Halen together again – enjoy it while it lasts
Here’s the set list that Van Halen played at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia in early March (subject to change):Unchained Runnin’ With the Devil She’s The Woman The Full Bug Tattoo Everybody Wants Some!! Somebody Get Me A Doctor China Town Hear About It Later (Oh) Pretty Woman Drum Solo You Really Got Me The Trouble With Never Dance The Night Away I’ll Wait Hot For Teacher Women In Love Girl Gone Bad Beautiful Girls Ice Cream Man Panama Guitar Solo Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love Jump
By: Mark Christopher/Sunshine Slate
Images: Van Halen