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Witnessed

Van Halen, 2008 (reunion)

07/05/09  ||  The Duff

Where: Near or in Chicago, IL, USA.
When: 2008… can’t you read?
Why: ‘Cos he apparently inspired Trey Azagthoth.

A very close friend of mine who I spend a lot of time with upon my visits across the Atlantic is one of the few individuals on this planet with whom I share an appreciation for many a metal band. However, when it comes to what we consider the very best the genre has to offer, our minds differ radically. Whereas I know that all great metal is derived from Slayer’s “Seasons in the Abyss” and anything by Manowar, he is of the primitive schooling that Priest reigns over Maiden, that Slayer have never released anything decent post-“South of Heaven”, let alone sub-genre defining, and that Led Zeppelin are inferior to The Grateful Dead (a band I might add that has never broken into the European mainstream because, frankly, we just don’t give a shit). Van Halen is one of three of his favourite bands, and I just didn’t want to insult the guy any further than when I played “British Steel” next to “Number of the Beast” and began laughing hysterically into his face; when he invited me along for the ride to see this inspiration to a million and one guitarists whom I admire tremendously with his wife and brother, it was but to suppress the tears that would have cascaded down his cheeks had I refused that I thought it necessary to take him up on his offer. I figured that if Vai could overlook the, let’s face it, cock-on-cock lovin’ of a song like “Jump”, then for the sake of my friend’s fragility, so could I.

The venue was the next largest one down I’d been to after Wembley Stadium to see the almighty Metallica, and I guess such a thing was warranted – something about the band’s original line-up (all save the bassist, Van Halen Jr. taking over the role for the tour), David Lee Roth and Eddie successfully dousing the fires set between warring egos for the sake of raking in the money from fans who’ve been waiting for such a reunion ever since year X I would have thought merited some big-expenses by the band’s management, and the venue was definitely built up for such an occasion. My friend recounted the band’s history to me on the way to the venue, but well, I just couldn’t stop thinking “Eddie Van Halen. He wrote “Jump”, right? What a homo.”, and so I concocted my own story as to their break-up – something about a prize-winning aubergine, spousal infidelity and lots of drugs; I just figured they were from the same era as Motley Crue, Poison and all those other shit bands, and so their behaviour would involve some level of decadence altogether unfamiliar to decent, hard-earning folk.

The band came out all guns blazing, the whole thing being a very flashy show that involved I’m sure enough energy to keep a fat chick’s pocket-rocket a-generatin’; as we all know, such women have airport car-park vaginas and a clitoris that could be scaled alongside a blue whale’s fin, and so something the size of and the same ability for speed as a boat propeller would be necessary just to feel a tingle down in the love-bud. Am I digressing? Yes – truth is, I don’t know this band, and can’t tell you of many of the tracks played, so I’m falling back into the regular role of untalented reviewer, trying to divert the reader away from the shortage of info by diving into real attention grabbers like sex-talk and Iron Maiden worship. I suppose an humourous anecdote would involve the guy next to me who thought that David Lee Roth was gay because of the way he dressed, and I’m thinking “you can’t be serious – dude’s had his end in so much pussy, chances are you’re one of his many illegitimate progeny”. Does this lil’ story absolve me from crass creativity? Doubtful, eh.

That’s it folks, the best part of the evening for me; they played “Mean Streets”, “Jump”, “Eruption”, “The Final Countdown“… oh, hang on… “Jamie’s Crying”, “Ain’t Talking About Love” and all the rest. I wasn’t even too impressed by Eddie Van Halen’s playing – the guy is too dependent on his 5150 sound (and whatever it’s been warped into), I reckon, and has become quite a lazy guitar-player; sure, he’s inspired tonnes, knows the ins-and-outs of the instrument unlike many a musician, as well as amp hardware etc., to the point where I think he has constructed many of his own toys like the infamous “Frankenstein” model, but even his revolutionary tapping seemed a) out of date compared to where it’s been taken from its genesis up until the present day, and b) just plain uninteresting – this guy’s better days are behind him, evidenced by his flipping out halfway through a solo and playing whilst running around on his side on the floor – showman is one thing, playing fucking absolutely anything ‘cos your fans will suck you off regardless quite another. I shan’t deny it was a good show, intermittently cut up with the aforementioned guitar solo, drum solo (which was amazing, surprisingly – always likened these guys to a band like KISS; y’know, shit through and through save one or two saving graces, like make-up and a tongue designed for ace-fellatio and talking shit), father/son bonding moment in front of the crowd and David Lee Roth being the awesome frontman he is between songs by dangling his genitals in front of all the lapping women up front (okay, maybe not as bad as KISS… hehe – a great vocalist too, so an all through talented band it would seem).

To this day, I’m not a fan of the band, so it was just a big-expenses, pompous live show that I was grateful to have witnessed if only for the size of the venue and the names of those involved. Oh, and I missed Ziggy Marley’s band – I’m about as useful as a journalist as they get, but you can suck on my unkempt balls.

6 days I once again proved my good chum wrong out of 10.