Overcast skies above and a chill in the air was not going to stop the Van Halen train from rolling into the Darien Lake PAC, Tuesday evening. The band gave us one of their best performances in a long time. Most were wondering if the show would even happen at all due to the cancellation of their show just prior due to Roth coming down with a case of the flu.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd opened the show and gave a solid performance backed with seasoned musicians from various bands. His band was tight and the crowd really seemed to enjoy his playing as many people were showing off their air guitar skills. Kenny is an awesome guitar player and really knows how to work the crowd with his guitar. He was a good choice for an opening act for Van Halen. If you like the sound of guitars, you were treated to two different flavors on this night and neither disappointed.
After seeing these guys on TV, something they have never have done much of in the past, VH fans were not too sure about how the concert would be after their not so promising appearances on Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen. The band did not sound good as Dave’s voice and antics were just too hard to watch. If those two shows were a preview to what was to come, it wasn’t going to be good. I also wondered how those two performances would affect ticket sales for this tour. After seeing some video clips pop up on You Tube from various venues, It seemed as Dave was slowly getting his groove back while the band sounded as good as ever. Dave will never have that voice we are all used to as he just turned 60 recently but on this night I truly believe he gave it his best shot, and to me, Dave sounded better than their last performance at HSBC Arena in 2012.
From the minute they hit the stage they were on fire kicking off the night with “Light up the sky”. This song also features heavy backup vocals that can be challenging without the likes of former bassist Michael Anthony. Wolfgang stepped up to the plate and showed us he can hang with the big guys. His playing is much better and background vocals mesh perfectly with his dad. During the beginning of Running with the devil Eddie came over to give Wolfgang a big high five. Watching Eddie play and seeing he is all smiles on stage these days. You can tell he is in a better place now and enjoys having his son in the band.
Alex was in true form with another one of his massive drum kits. His drum solo was more mellow than in the past but seemed to be reggae inspired.
They ripped through the Roth era classics like “Romeo Delight”, “Everybody Wants Some”, and “I’ll wait”. Rare plays of “Women In Love”, “Drop Dead Legs” and lost classic “Feel Your Love Tonight” were on display.
The one thing you notice is that Wolfgang helps carry the rhythm all the while doing it quietly on his side of the stage. Every now and then he would come front and center with his dad to just hang out for a brief moment. He is not a flashy bass player but he has the chops to carry a tune along with great back-up vocals as well. Eddies guitar solo did not disappoint either. He mixed in riffs from other songs along with his classic style of tapping and pulling harmonics from places others never knew existed along with a ton of different chord structures.
All in all it was a great show, some songs could have done without Dave’s rambling on and on but that’s just Dave being Dave, get over it. It was awesome hearing them play tunes they have not played in years. Perhaps the best part was seeing how it appeared that all of them were getting along and having the time of their life, something that was lacking on previous tours. Hopefully this is not the last appearance of Van Halen in Buffalo.
Light Up the Sky
Runnin’ With the Devil
Everybody Wants Some!!
Drop Dead Legs
Feel Your Love Tonight
Somebody Get Me a Doctor
She’s the Woman
Dance the Night Away
Women in Love
Hot for Teacher
In a Simple Rhyme
Ice Cream Man
Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
You Really Got Me