TVD Live: Van Halen
at Oracle Arena, 6/3

It was the reunion that no one ever thought would happen. America’s most beloved rock ‘n roll treasure (besides Cheap Trick and Aersosmith, of course) took the stage at Oakland’s Oracle Arena on Sunday and proved that they are still a force to be reckoned with.

Opening up with the blistering classic “Unchained,” Van Halen made a statement early on in the show. Instantly every other show you may have seen in the past year or so became obsolete and begged the question, “Who can do better than this?” The simple answer is no one.

Dave’s charm was on fire as they jumped into “Running with the Devil,” and the chemistry on stage between Dave and Eddie was charming and playful. Any brand of turmoil between the two was non apparent.

The oddest choice for “opening band of the year award” goes to Van Halen for selecting Kool & the Gang to kick start the show. I have to say that it sort of worked, though. I forgot how many hits these guys had, and the sold out arena full of ’80s cool kids was surprisingly receptive and really seemed to quite enjoy one soul classic after another.

Now, back to Van Halen…

The rest of the setlist did not disappoint as the band peppered in a number of new classics from the comeback album of the decade, A Different Kind of Truth, including “Tattoo” and “She’s the Woman.” Check out the full setlist here.

This was my first time seeing Van Halen and I was not disappointed. I am not even a huge fan of the band, yet they were on my concert bucket list, and now I am listening to the first three albums on repeat. Seeing a show of this magnitude puts a perspective on rock concerts that many of us miss. I mean seriously, what band or bands in the currently can even come close to putting on this type of show? Maybe the Foo Fighters, but beyond that I imagine it’s a very, very short list.

To see these photos and more in hi-res check out the complete set here.

Where you at the show in Oakland? What did you think of the performance? The setlist? Who do you think can possibly put on a rock show of this magnitude going forward? 

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  • Jim

    Saw the show in Chicago, was my fourth Roth show. Saw them on Diver Down, 1984, the ’07 reunion and this tour. I’ve also saw VH sans Roth once and have seen five solo DLR shows so going into this show I’m a huge fan and excited about it. Honestly, DLR made the band for me because after he left I abandoned the VH ship upon the release of the second Van Hagar record.
    Criticisms of the show in Chicago but feel they would be consistent for the entire tour for me
    Dave’s voice — was shot, anything outside of the “talk vocal” style fell flat or spiraled almost immediately out of anything being “in tune” with the song. I know Dave has never been a “great” singer but his performance was something not worthy of the hefty ticket price in my opinion. 
    the big screen – yes, it is the biggest video screen for a show i’ve ever seen but maybe they should have saved a bit on the screen and put some budget towards someone using it effectively so it would make an impact. The camera work was atrocious, the little non-performance imaging  they did was the equivalent of Windows Media Player on random (the goofy photo bouncing and sliding through the screen like the game Asteroids) AND instant replays of Dave’s kicks? C’mon Dave…gimme a break! Having something so massive be so underwhelming deflated any umph to the experience for me and by mid-show it actually was beginning to inspire laughs and fodder for my wife and me.
    Dave’s stage presence – while I understand that a late 50’s man shouldn’t be held to the standards of his ‘broke the mold and often copied but never duplicated’ stage persona, DLR in 2012 was often ridiculous. His stage moves looked as though he was either doing Yoga stretches or a frustrated and bad flamenco dancer. The kicks were impressive for his age but the instant replays made be begin to dread the kicks by show’s end. 
    Dave’s stage banter – again, rather silly. Was like he was playing a DLR character rather than just be himself.
    New album – when I first heard Tattoo as the lead single I felt the new album would be dead in the water, while Tattoo has all the  “pieces” of a classic VH song, from the Dave talking over a musical breakdown, big choruses and vintage Eddie wailing on the guitar, it felt like a Dollar Store “paint by numbers and make a Van Halen song” kit. When hearing the entire album I was initially blown away, how could a record sound this good when the lead single was so terrible? After a week of solid listening, a large part of the album’s glisten tapered off but I still found five of the tracks above average and worthy of being decent album tracks on any of the classic VH records. I’ve not listened to the new album since the show which was at on April 1.
    set list – highlight of the show. With a new record I was happy that they played five songs from it, wasn’t happy that three of the five tracks were duds. The new songs (even the two I really liked) ended up being mostly duds, no real extra energy into the presentation.
    “the reunion” – everyone is writing about this reunion which for new material is it but the band toured with Roth in 2007. Nitpicking but the reunion and “can it work” storyline bugs me because they already did this!
    Things I liked – A) Eddie’s playing and enthusiasm, B) the set list, C) Wolfgang while never being able to truly replace Michael Anthony has grown immensely as a performer since the ’07 tour.

    • JasonMillerCA

      Thanks for the comment Jim! Very well said. I have to agree with you about Dave’s kicks on the video monitor. That was awful, but there were moments when the screen really shined. I thought Wolfgang nailed it and I didn’t miss Michael Anthony at all (even though I never saw him with the band). I did love seeing Dave and Eddie together though, although neither one of them have the moves they once did, they made up for it in personality at this particular show. 
      Rock on!


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