CONCERT REVIEW: Seems like old times as Van Halen rocks arena
By COURTNEY DEVORES
The Charlotte Observer
Opening night of Van Halen's long-awaited reunion with David Lee Roth literally kicked off with several of Roth's highflying kicks at Charlotte Bobcats Arena on Thursday, although Eddie Van Halen was the first to appear on stage with one of his own signature hurky-style jumps.
The last time Van Halen performed in Charlotte with Roth as its frontman, he had just turned 30, gas was $1.21 a gallon and tickets to the show at the old Charlotte Coliseum were $12.50.
Twenty-three years later, the band's original members are all over 50 and guitarist Eddie Van Halen's 16-year-old son Wolfgang has replaced original bassist Michael Anthony.
The show sold out in a matter of minutes in August, and the arena was packed when the band hit the stage around 8:30 p.m., following a short but sweet set of pop and reggae-tinged R&B by Kymani Marley.
Fans assumed after well-publicized fighting, ill will and a couple of false starts over the past 11 years that the group would never reunite. But earlier this year the Van Halen brothers announced that Roth would rejoin the fold. If the group can keep egos and tempers in check (sources say the three original members arrived on separate buses for rehearsals), the reunion could be the biggest tour of the decade.
Any animosity wasn't apparent on stage as Roth and Eddie Van Halen saddled up next to each other, smiling, during "Everybody Wants Some" and "Dance the Night Away." Roth and Wolfgang Van Halen even sang "Oh Pretty Woman" side by side.
The younger Van Halen proved to be a showy player and spot-on backing vocalist, although he didn't yet prowl the stage like a seasoned vet.
His post rehab father looked skinny, but cut, as did his brother. In fact, the original members all looked fit, though none ran around the stage like they did 25 years ago.
"You Really Got Me" started things off with the band sticking to the set list that was leaked on the internet last week. Highlights included "Beautiful Girls," "Unchained," and "Hot For Teacher." The group saved its biggest single and only #1 pop song, "Jump," for the encore.
Roth left the band in 1985, scoring several pop hits on his own. His former band outlasted his solo success, topping the mainstream rock charts 11 times without him.
But to many fans it just wasn't the same without the flamboyant, larger-than-life Roth jumping and posing out front like an uber-charismatic game show host. One fan compared him to Liberace strutting in his embroidered jackets and skintight leather striped pants.
What might be overlooked in favor of his over-the-top persona is his voice, which was in peak form Thursday. He easily met and held notes that younger singers like Jon Bon Jovi just can't reach anymore.