My parents never let me go to concerts when I was a teenager. They were strict, and probably for good reason. However, as a result, I never got to see any of the really good bands until I was an adult. And honestly, most of them are still pretty awesome! I’ve seen KISS, Mötley Crüe, Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz, Alice Cooper, Heart, Joan Jett, Robert Plant, and several others since I’ve been a ‘grown-up’. And they were all still really good. Especially Alice Cooper! He was fantastic!

So, when we heard that Van Halen was coming here to Austin, Alex promised he’d get me in. He made good on his word, and even though I’ve been battling a very nasty bout of bronchitis, I decided to go last night. After all, the bronchitis will eventually pass no matter what. And Eddie Van Halen has had half of his tongue removed due to cancer, for cryin’ out loud! So who knows how many more opportunities I might have to see the best guitarist in the world? I’d also not been to the Circuit of the Americas yet, so it just seemed like a good plan.

The opening act was Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and he was great. I’ve always liked him, love his lead singer, and in general they put on a good, mellow show. And then Van Halen took the show, with flashing lights and rock-n-roll thunder! It was awesome! Until David Lee Roth tried to. . . I’m not sure what to call it. . . sing? At first we thought maybe his mic was messed up. But no. It was totally him. To say that he sucked would be too kind. It was really painful to watch and listen to. I mean, this guy used to be the stuff rock-n-roll legends and fantasies were made of! But clearly, those days are GONE. And the onstage magic between David and Eddie was completely missing. (Perhaps that was because DLR feared if he got to close Ed might clobber him with his guitar and put him out of his misery?) It was almost like the Van Halen guys got together to jam, and some crazy person jumped up on stage and started jumping around and pretending to sing while changing clothes all the time. (Gaylon even said “I would have thought he was sick or something, but he kept jumping around up there . . .”) I cannot begin to express our disappointment.

We felt really bad for the rest of the band. Eddie, Wolf and Alex ROCKED! But DLR. . . paraded around the stage like a drunken monkey, changing clothes and trying to deliver some sort of slapstick comedy lines that were either unintelligible or just not funny. At all. His voice is shot, and it seemed to us that he couldn’t even remember half of the lyrics. And the ones he did remember, he either mumbled or spoke. Sort of. Like I said, it was downright painful.

The night was not a total loss, however. Eddie absolutely brought the house down with his guitar solo at the end! Of course, he played “Eruption”, but he played a lot of other stuff, too, including a Happy Birthday tribute to their mom, who would’ve been 100 years old yesterday. Alex was awesome on the drums, and it was cool to get to see Wolf, even though they didn’t really highlight him much.

Anyway, as a tribute to the glory days of rock-n-roll yore, here is a video of how I remember Van Halen. Enjoy!

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