Air Canada Centre Toronto
March 17 2012
When in 2007 Van Halen reunited with original lead vocalist David Lee Roth for a sold-out headlining arena tour, you couldn't be blamed for wondering if they'd reach the finish line or not. Since Dave left the band in the mid 80's bad blood flowed freely between the two camps but the 2007 outing was extremely succesful and earlier this year the reconsituted band released a strong new album A Different Knd Of Truth (their first in 14 years, the first captained by Roth in 28) and hit the road once again.
At 57 years of age, Roth has not surprisingly lost some of his full throttle power but interestingly pushes to sing in a bit of a higher register than before. It's an unusual choice considering it would have been alot easier to just stay in a lower, more comfortable range.
As for one of the most influential guitarists in rock history, Edward Van Halen is looking happier and healthier than he did in '07 and his playing is as electrifying as ever. Not only full of flash and exuberance but also showcasing that inimitable tone that only he has.
Filling in on bass guitar for the not-invited Michael Anthony is Edward's song Wolfgang, who is far more comfortable on stage than on the previous tour and during a couple of songs even doubles some liquid fast runs with his father which is impressive to witness.
The 2007 set list was satisfyingly packed tight with hits and FM radio mainstays. For this jaunt not only did they play four songs from the new album ("The Trouble With Never", "Chinatown", "She's The Woman" and first single "Tattoo") but the proven track list from the '07 tour has been re-tooled. Vintage tracks not played then but aired in Toronto on the new tour were "Hear About It Later", "Girl Gone Bad" ,"Women In Love" and "The Full Bug" (a song I've long championed).
For the intro to "Ice Cream Man", Roth used the huge screen behind him to show footage of his award winning sheep dogs. Perhaps not the most obvious hobby for the legendary front man but one he apparently is very good at.
Edward's solo spot, which had him sitting on the steps leading to brother Alex's drum riser, was a masterclass in guitar virtuosity. Starting with the ferocious "Eruption" he then gently blended it into a beautiful live reading of "Cathedral" casting a spell over the crowd.
During the triumphant final song "Jump", stage cannons exploded red, white & black confettii strips over the audience making the air seem to be filled with the debris from hundreds of Edward's uniquely painted guitars somehow all detonated at once. While the confetti showered the crowd it was clear that the mighty Van Halen are back. Again.
Robert Lawson 2012.
Photos by Graham C. Haggart
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