Van Halen ‘A Different Kind of Truth’ 2012 Tour – Kansas City Sprint Center 5/22/2012

Has Diamond Dave lost some of his luster?

Let me preface this post by saying Van Halen was one of the first rock and roll groups I discovered on my own, without influence from my Dad’s music tastes. Seeing David Lee Roth strut and kick on stage in videos like Hot for Teacher and Panama helped form my idea of what rock and roll excess was meant to be. The band’s album 1984 is still in my regular rotation. I’ve always felt that without ‘Diamond Dave‘, Van Halen just didn’t have the same swagger and party attitude I loved. Sure, there was still Eddie and Alex Van Halen (the true musicians in the band), and some great songs came out of the Van Hagar days but it just wasn’t the same. All that being said, it’s obvious I am a fan of the ‘real’ Van Halen.

When I heard earlier this year that VH would be putting out a new album with David Lee Roth, I was beyond excited. I had seen the band on the Kansas City stop of their 2008 ‘reunion’ tour at the then brand new Sprint Center. The show was great! Roth and the band seemed to be in synch and having a great time playing all of their old hits. That tour had no new album to promote, and was the beginning of Eddie Van Halen’s son Wolfgang taking over bass guitar duties from Michael Anthony who defected along with Sammy Hagar. One thing that amazed me about that show was how good Roth sounded. It was like he was in his heyday again, strutting around the stage, kicking and doing splits, and singing the songs marked with his trademark squeals and asides peppered in. Most notably, he was singing the right words, and the songs sounded right. Flash forward to last night…

Again, Van Halen took the stage of the still amazing Sprint Center in support of their first new album with Roth since 1984. Ending the intermission, after odd choice opening band Kool and the Gang, a thunder of Alex Van Halen’s drum’s blasted from the sound system, and soon Wolfgang, Eddie, and David Lee appeared on the stage. The band launched into Unchained from 1981’s Fair Warning album. Musically, the band sounded great, but Roth’s vocals were definitely strained, and he seemed to almost speak most of his lyrics. I played this off at first as just Dave ad-libbing a little to start the show. Moving on from Unchained, the band then tore into Roth’s signature song Running With the Devil, one of my all time favorites. I say this is Roth’s signature song because of his improvised squeals, and scats throughout the song that have become synonymous with Roth’s frenetic vocal style (for a sample try this). Dave did none of his signature vocal stylings on the song, and seemed at times to barely know what song they were playing. The band then moved on to a set of songs from A Different Kind of Truth, including the first single Tattoo. I have to say that I generally like the new album, and am constantly amazed by Eddie Van Halen’s guitar skills, but Roth’s vocals on the album were much more spot on than when performing the songs live. Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang were amazingly tight, and their back-up vocals almost made up for the lack of Roth’s execution on lead vocals. There were some bright spots in Diamond Dave’s performance (he can still kick pretty high!), and the band musically executed every song I would have wanted to hear (Panama, …And the Cradle Will Rock, Hot For Teacher, Jump) flawlessly, but at times I felt as though I was watching David Lee Roth – Alzheimer’s Patient instead of Diamond Dave.

I really hope that the reason for VH postponing/canceling the bulk of the upcoming shows on this tour has nothing to do with either Eddie’s battle with cancer, or Roth actually having Alzheimer’s, but I do hope that Roth can rest his vocal chords and study the lyrics for any upcoming shows they actually play.

Sadly, I have to give this show only 3 Stars.

PLAYLIST:

1. Unchained
2. Runnin’ With The Devil
3. She’s The Woman
4. The Full Bug
5. Tattoo
6. Everybody Wants Some!!
7. Somebody Get Me A Doctor
8. China Town
9. Hear About It Later
10. (Oh) Pretty Woman
11. Drum Solo
12. You Really Got Me
13. The Trouble With Never
14. Dance The Night Away
15. I’ll Wait
16. And The Cradle Will Rock…
17. Hot For Teacher
18. Women In Love
19. Beautiful Girls
20. Ice Cream Man
21. Panama
22. Guitar Solo
23. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
24. Jump

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