Everybody Wants Some

Working out my Van Halen on a (semi) daily basis.

http://www.classicrockmagazine.com/news/van-halen-david-lee-roth-on-why-hell-never-marry/

It’s weird, but every time I read or watch one of his interviews, it’s like he’s read my mind with the references he makes. That first essay I wrote in 2007 includes so much stuff he says elsewhere. When I was a kid and had David Lee Roth’s image up in my locker, as well as in my mind, we didn’t have the internet to let us read everything humanly available, so it didn’t seep into my subconscious the way things do today. I have no idea where I picked up the themes he’s got going on, but there they are.

In case you’re not all caught up, you can read the blog to which I’m referring here: https://everybodywantssome.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/old-news/

Conflict Diamond Dave

From the Google:

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/van-halen-conflict/

http://www.classicrockmagazine.com/news/van-halen-were-always-going-to-reunite/

The take-away on both of these is that there’s always been conflict but they always knew they’d get back together. I commented in the previous blog about the psychology (in my opinion) behind this conflict but ultimately it doesn’t really matter why; the conflict makes the band better. If everyone was nice to each other all the time and never disagreed about anything, the music would be bland. Maybe that’s why Van Hagar was so vanilla; no one stirred anything else into the mix. You know that they get along well enough; Eddie’s said that he never hated Dave, he could just only take him in small doses, and you may have seen him shake his head in amusement when Dave goes off on a particularly odd tangent in concert.

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There’s also some discussion about whether or not Van Halen is going on a European tour. Dave says they are, Irving Azoff says they’re not. This is par for the course for Van Halen. I believe there was the same degree of he says/he says before the 2012 tour and the release of the ‘new’ album. I think it’s designed to get people wondering what’s going on and to stir up some discussion among the fans. I think Dave is totally okay with looking like the bad guy, so long as there’s publicity. He’s always been in charge of PR (he says) so I think this ‘conflict’ is manufactured for us, to wonder about whether Dave really is part of the band, or on his own agenda. There’s really no reason for Azoff to point out that he doesn’t know about any tour. How many managers comment on something that’s in direct contradiction to what their clients say? It’s manufactured contradiction. Just read the comments after some of these articles; the fans have drawn their own lines in the sand.

Less old news

Also something I wrote a while back, after the 2012 tour.

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I’ll Wait

I missed Van Halen the first time around. I wanted to go, but had parental issues, or rather my mother had issues with my going. It wasn’t because it was Van Halen, but because it was Van Halen sans assigned seating, or because, you know, it cost money and I didn’t have any. It didn’t make a lot of difference to me, exactly, because I liked the music, but didn’t really know much of it beyond the one album I owned: Diver Down. I wasn’t what was then called ‘hip’ to anything in the music scene and I didn’t know Van Halen ruled the world. Long story short, I never got to see them when I should have, but in 2007 I saw them with their rightful front man, and I lost my mind.

I was, frankly, fixated. I saw the show in Calgary, and then bought a ticket to Chicago to see them again with a friend. I read all 90 pages of Google mentions. I bought and read Ian Christe’s Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga. I wrote a 3200 word essay on David Lee Roth’s effect on my young psyche, and rather forced Christe to read it. He said he liked it, but maybe he just wanted me to stop sending it to him on Facebook and Twitter and through his personal website. I apologized to a friend who’d been fixated on Bon Jovi all summer, and going on and on and on about it on Facebook. I got my hands on a library copy of David Lee Roth’s Crazy From the Heat, reading and rereading it from cover to cover. I got all the Classic Van Halen albums, and all the David Lee Roth solo albums, including the Spanish version of Eat ‘Em and Smile, called Sonrisa Salvaje, which apparently means ‘Wild Smile.’ I heard, watched, or read every interview Roth ever gave, and every story written about the classic version of the band that is available on the Internet. I still have Google alerts for the terms ‘Van Halen’ and ‘David Lee Roth’ and am still usually at least two weeks ahead of mainstream discussion of events involving the band or ex members of the band. I considered getting a VH tattoo. I still think about it, as a way to mark my descent into madness. Sweet, sweet madness.

I asked one of my friends if I was ridiculous, and she said it was funny, she’d never seen me so enthusiastic about anything before, but it wasn’t the only thing that interested me so “it’s okay.” I mean, I wasn’t living in a life sized high school locker plastered with emotional and intellectual landscapes made up of Van Halen posters, although I probably would have. I was at school, I had a job, I went to movies, read books, and listened to non-Van Halen music. Sometimes. I gotta say, though, it was at least a year before the whirlwind was tempered, even a little. I only revealed 50% of my Van Halen ‘research’ to people who were still willing to listen, mostly a U2 crazy who’s flown to other continents to see his band play. It was a year and a half before the condition became merely chronic, fed by daily digests of Google alerts and stalking David Lee Roth’s cached webpage. Eventually it reverted to good old fashioned nostalgia.

A couple of years ago, I started getting alerts about a new album, often found within stories about Sammy Hagar and his bitching craziness about his entire life. I believe him that Eddie probably ditched him; Eddie seemed to have gone through an austere case of unembellished, navel gazing paranoia for many years, and I don’t think anyone could survive that. Hagar and Roth are both just too relaxed, for the former, and free spirited, for the latter, to be dealt with effectively by someone who was clearly having some strange days. Wither went Eddie, so went Alex.

At any rate, Hagar had a new band and album but you can’t talk about Hagar without talking about Van Halen, whether you want to or not, hence the Google alerts, which led to fevered discussion of various types. It didn’t help that Van Halen likes to maintain mystique via opaque or, at best, oblique non-responses. I wanted to shake them: dudes, it’s not the 80s anymore, a lot of your old fans won’t put up with that shit. Even a little would have been better than nothing, but a little would probably have led to a lot more Hagar, so maybe it’s all good. The guy was caught and released by aliens. They implanted an app that projects more ego if the user badmouths his former teammates. Shut up Sammy. Your voice is ordinary.

Regardless of the one sided love affair with Sammy professing his love of everything related to the Van Halens, except when he said his new shit’s better than the old shit he did with them, I was interested in the underlying idea that an album was being made. People Who Should Know talked about Eddie playing them new or revamped songs. Hard core fans discussed which riffs and songs they’d like to come out, with links to demos from the 70s of their favourites. I am not a musician, but it did open me up to the knowledge of exactly how much old Van Halen there is out there. These were Serious Fans. They knew everything about every demo and where riffs were used in released albums and how old songs changed titles and lyrics and how much better it would be if…or maybe this version is better…or… It was awesome.

The lack of comment on Hagar continued to a lack of discussion of the album, or if there even was one in the offing. People began to doubt. I preferred to think it was happening, because Van Halen didn’t deny it, which is kind of their modus operandi; they may not tell you what they’re doing, but they usually tell you want they’re not doing. So, I waited.

The album came out, and it’s a little like Fair Warning, in that I wasn’t really a fan, but it grew on me. I know, I know, a lot of folks think it’s a classic, but it was a dark thing. Anyhow, the guitar on the new album was magnificent, even to someone like me who knows virtually nothing about musicianship, but it was definitely the work of Edward Van Halen. There’s a way his music sounds on his albums with David Lee Roth that was missing throughout the entire Hagar period, as if he was dumbing it down so Sammy’s guitar wouldn’t feel bad. There is no picking Van Hagar out of a line up, but there is no mistaking this album for someone other than Van Halen. If you’d heard all of Dave’s solo stuff, and I’ve already told you I have, you’ll also hear his influence on some of the new songs, and they absolutely don’t suck.

So, new album, and a tour, right? I bought my tickets. I decided against spending $700 for a ticket where I wouldn’t meet the band, and got seats about where I sat before. I didn’t watch the YouTube videos of other shows because I’d discovered last time that a lot of the banter is scripted (which they could get away with in the 70s and 80s when everything you said didn’t show up online 15 minutes later), and I didn’t want any spoilers.

I bought a t-shirt. Well, I bought two t-shirts and a hoodie.

Yes, yes, Kool and the Gang played. They were good. I’ll probably download their Best Of on iTunes.

In 2007-2008, the stage had a ramp at the back, probably 15 feet above the drums, and a half-circle catwalk into the audience. This time it was an ordinary stage with a huge, and I mean HUGE, screen behind the stage where the band was projected larger than life, and simple spotlights. In an old interview, David Lee Roth said about the idea that if you can’t do your show on a bare stage with one light bulb, you shouldn’t bother; showmanship is more important than flash. This stage was a return to that ethos, or as close as you can get to it when you’re playing hockey stadiums. The opening was interesting, too. All of a sudden, the drums started playing! Everyone turned to look at the stage, the lights went down, and the audience realized the show was starting! Eddie and Wolfgang walked out to take their places and David Lee Roth entered in what can only be described as a strut. They led right into Unchained, and it was awesome. They played their biggest, best known hits, four or five from the new album (but none of the bluesier stuff), which were surprisingly well suited to the set list, and a bunch of other songs they hadn’t played on the last tour. I love The Full Bug. Love. It. So, I was tha-rilled to hear it, although I think Dave forgot the lyrics, if it’s really possible to do so on some of those old songs. The new ones are distinctive for having clear sentence structure and grammar. I’m not convinced those things are appropriate to Van Halen, but I guess if you’re not hammered during the show, you can’t justify some of that stuff. Moonbeam? Moobie? Whatever. I like knowing what I’m singing along to, but it really does differentiate the old from the new.

They can all play, and Dave can sing – not like he used to, but who can? The show lacked some of the spontaneity of 2007, moving seamlessly and in an exceedingly organized manner from beginning to end, but not so slick that it looked like lip service. The audience was not sold out, but it was not embarrassingly empty. People were up and dancing in a way they were not last time around. In the dark, they were pebbles on the beach, anticipating the surf, rocks rolling in familiar water, worn smooth. Again I lived a teenage moment I missed the first time around. The culture shock of adulthood means you can’t re-live a thing like that anyhow, but for a few hours, we all opened our inner lockers, gazed at pictures from a magazine, and under their spell we watched them come alive.

Mean Streets

Lately there’s been a lot of reposting of David Lee Roth’s saying he’d like Michael Anthony back in the band. I liked Michael Anthony, but of those four guys, he was the most replaceable. I mean, Dave was replaced a couple of times, but the band was very different without him. Without Anthony, it sounds more or less the same. Wolfgang’s a good bass player, from what I understand about these things, and his voice does fine, as far as I can tell, so Anthony’s not really that big a deal, in my opinion. However, he seems like the nicest, most decent guy who was ever in Van Halen, or any band, really, and he’s had the short end of the stick from the brothers, who seem to enjoy sticking it in when they can, so I don’t really see them letting him back in. I didn’t see them back with DLR either, though, so…

Wolfie seems like a nice kid, too. He’s had some messed up parents and he’s still okay, so he’s got to be pretty strong willed, and he got DLR back in the band, so I back him, and he’s been through the wringer, too, with the hate that went his way when he was driving daddy’s tour bus, basically, and he didn’t crash and burn. Good kid. It’s not his fault his father takes issue with basically anything anyone ever does. Well, I’m probably (and by probably I mean hopefully) wrong about that and there’s probably more to it than the general public knows, or at least I hope there is. I’d hate to find out that the reason Anthony got booted from the band was because he wanted to stop sitting around doing nothing. Eddie got weird for a while (a while?), the band had no singer, and Anthony wanted to be busy. He got along with Sammy Hagar, Hagar had something going on, so Anthony worked with Hagar, but Hagar was in Eddie’s bad books. God only knows who’s right there, but why make Anthony choose between them? It’s not high school anymore.

I’ve got my own ideas about why the brothers are the way they are, and I feel for them. If you’ve read my 2007 essay on seeing VH on tour with DLR, you may have picked up that I kind of lost my mind there for a while. In the immediate aftermath of my extreme nostalgia I read all 90 pages of Google search results for Van Halen and David Lee Roth. I also downloaded a bunch of Professional Articles about the band. I read Ian Christe’s Everybody Wants Some, David Lee Roth’s Crazy from the Heat, and Neil Zlozower’s awesome coffee table book. I found DLR’s cached website. I read it all. I watched all the Youtube videos, listened to all the podcasts and all the old taped interviews that have been put up on the web. I’m the go-to gal for all things Van Halen amongst my friends, and there are a couple of things that stand out about the Van Halen family that make me both feel for them and angry with them. From what I gather, Van Halen Père was a musician, and Van Halen Mère wished he’d get a Real Job. I don’t know how she felt about the boys getting into music, but instruments were purchased, so it must have been okay. I do get the impression, though, that she had a bit of the drill sergeant about her, and may have been a little abusive. I have no idea if this is true, but reading between the lines of interviews with the Alex and Eddie, it feels like that was probably the case. So, you’ve got two brothers with an abusive and authoritative mother, and then they meet Dave, from whom you get the impression his parents felt he could do anything he wanted so long as he was happy. Dave would interpret conflict as growth, because that’s how it was with him, and the brothers would see it as criticism, which is how it was at their home. People like that can’t get along indefinitely, and they didn’t. Anthony probably ultimately didn’t fit in because they saw his working with Hagar as criticism of Van Halen. But seriously, if they’d actually been The Mighty Van Halen instead of some guy noodling on a guitar in his personal studio, Anthony would have been right there with them.

I’d like to know the Van Halens take some responsibility for how the band exploded, but I’m also sort of glad I don’t know. In this age of ‘reality’ television, where people deliberately allow cameras into every aspect of their lives, and then edit it so we only see their best angle, I like the mystery. I like that they don’t air their dirty laundry (much/anymore), and that Eddie’s finally said that he never hated Dave, but can really only take him in small doses. I can see that they were hurt when he left originally, but they reacted poorly at the time, and I understand that, but they’re all over 50 now, and I hope those days are behind them.

I do kind of wonder if Dave’s recent promotion of Michael Anthony isn’t just to get us ready for something like that happening. I mean, Wolfgang’s in Tremonti now, while Eddie’s recovering from his latest health debacle, and by all accounts he fits in well there. Maybe he’ll do this tour, and then move into Tremonti exclusively, and Anthony can come back, and it won’t be an emotional disaster. It’s possible. I’ll wait.

Old news

I posted this some time ago in some other place, but given that this is a Van Halen blog, I figured I’d post it here, too.

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One night in junior high, I went to a sleep over at my friend Laura’s house. She gave me a record she had, one she didn’t want, and I remember her being kind of dismissive of the music. I remember being a little put out that she was giving me something she didn’t like, but it was free, so whatever, and it all worked out in the end. I wonder to this day where she got it. The album cover was red, with a white diagonal stripe, by a band called Van Halen, of whom I’d heard talk, but not enough to know anything about them. The album was called Diver Down, and while I had no idea, then, what it meant, I had an idea that it meant more than scuba.

I took the record home the next day and listened to it. It was the second album that was mine, not belonging to my mother. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it changed my life, but it was unlike anything I’d heard before. My mom’s music trended toward folk stuff, like Bob Dylan, or vaguely hallucinogenic, like Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow, but only if she didn’t know what it was about. Van Halen was not my mother’s music. It was loud, fast, brash, physical, weirdly happy, and completely lacking in pretension. I spent the next several years of my life thinking Pretty Woman was a pretty good Van Halen tune, unaware it was a cover.

I listened to the album quite a lot. I started gathering Van Halen posters for my wall. I made up a personality for each of the band members based on what they looked like. I pretended I didn’t notice David Lee Roth’s pants were, uh, cut a little differently from everyone else’s. Of course I thought he was attractive, but I hadn’t grasped the nuances of what I might want, although I knew I wanted something. When I first heard him interviewed on the radio though, man, I was hooked. He got pride of place on the inside of my locker. Besides, I don’t think my mother would have let me put up that photo of him, the one with the well defining, bright yellow striped spandex pants, on my bedroom wall.

Much as I remember holding the album in my hands for the first time in Laura’s basement, I remember how I felt the first time I heard David Lee Roth on the radio. I was simply blown away by my exploded expectations. I mean, with the hair and the body, he looked like every high school boy I’d met when I was in elementary school – every cool high school boy, anyway. Where I grew up, the long hair, jean jacket, bandana, white trash look was “it.” And here was that guy, grown up, and I didn’t expect much from him other than looking pretty. He sang for a heavy metal band, for pete’s sake. He was, however, one of the most articulate interviews I’d ever heard, but I was 13, what did I know? Let me rephrase: one of the most articulate interviews I’ve ever heard. Nary an “uh” or a space filling vocalization. He either knew what he wanted to say, or he waited a moment until he found it. Everything he said was clear, sharp, and on target, if frequently veering off topic. I’d never heard anyone talk that way. I hardly ever hear it now. Surrounded as I was by 13-year-old boys who could barely utter a word without laughing nervously, David Lee Roth was a revelation: a man who was sexy and smart. This is, of course, theoretically possible, but Sexy is only an acceptable partner to Smart if it’s bound up in the right clothes and the right haircut. Headbangers are not allowed to be intelligent, and academics are not allowed to wear tight pants.

Roth was the whole package, no pun intended. He was visceral and animal, but could string a sentence together that could leave me speechless at its clarity and wit. He became somewhat of a model for me: forthright, blunt, articulate. I emulated him, but if it was conscious, I don’t know. I’ve seen him say inappropriate things, and I know I’ve done the same.

Van Halen went on tour, set to play at the Stampede Corral, and I was going to go, but my mother thought rush seating meant that everyone would, well, rush, and I’d be crushed. I was quiet with fury. I thought about sneaking out somehow, but she kept a pretty tight rein on me. I  had to settle for asking someone to get me a t-shirt. “Anything but a baseball shirt,” I said, but that’s what I got. I don’t think I ever wore it. It’s in a box somewhere with all the other concert shirts I grew out of (Supertramp) or grew too embarrassed to wear (Duran Duran). I’d get my own, I thought, next time they toured.

Hard rock and hair bands started to be a bit of a joke in the circles I circled around. Liking Van Halen was as bad as wearing a wide tie or the wrong jeans. That is to say, not so bad, but others made it so. I resorted to quietly listening to them on headphones, at home, and I certainly never told anyone.

Then, suddenly, it didn’t matter anymore. Van Halen broke up, or, depending on who you talked to, David Lee Roth got his ass handed to him. I’m not sure anyone, including the band, really understood what happened. Words were thrown, anger was clear, and Roth was out. Or maybe it was the other way around. Van Halen was looking for a new singer, and they got Sammy Hagar, who sounded fine, truth be told, but I just couldn’t get behind him. It was a new band, and I couldn’t honestly decide if I didn’t like it because they didn’t have David Lee Roth, or if I came by my disinterest honestly.

Eventually, this didn’t matter either. Grunge moved to town, tastes changed. Van Halen wasn’t relevant anymore. The band that basically invented straight up North American hard rock, whose front man inspired, for good or ill, every single hair band that came later, and whose guitarist changed the face and ears of rock music, had become a band you went to see so you could say that you had, even though it wasn’t the same, because that band, the one you liked, was never going to get back together. Too much smoke on the water.

In the early 90s, I got a free ticket to one of their shows. I sat in the little enclosed seating area in the beer supplier’s suite, with some guy I didn’t know. Everyone else drank the free beer inside. I didn’t buy a t-shirt.

There was one moment, at that show, that I clearly remember: Eddie playing Cathedral, which I’d always thought was played on a keyboard, but only because I’d seen him play one on the Jump video. I think the guy I didn’t know thought so, too, because we were both amazed at him playing it on the guitar. I didn’t appreciate Eddie’s artistry then, and artistry it is. I hadn’t listened enough to be aware of how he makes the guitar speak on Jamie’s Cryin’ or laugh after the first two lines of You Really Got Me. It was my first time, and I loved it.

The rift between Van Halen and David Lee Roth, the reasons behind it, and speculations as to how it would end up reached legendary proportions. Roth’s first few forays on his own, with his patched together supergroup, did well. He was still Diamond Dave, after all, wasn’t he? Wasn’t he? He played to sold out arenas, at least initially. His persona got a little sillier, but he did it his way. Van Halen’s work, though, always seemed to imply “Look Ma! No Dave!” Their interviews seemed bitter, despite their protestations that they’d fired him, who, for his part, seemed more disappointed in their behaviour toward him, or comments about him, than anything else. He said things like “You keep raining, I’ll still be the parade.”

As his career ebbed, though, so did his façade. He began to look like a caricature of himself: the long hair thinning, fragile, and more platinum than anything found in nature; the smile broader, but more artificial, although some might say it was intentional self-deprecation. He got older, he changed, he kept touring, kept making music one way or another, playing smaller and smaller venues, but never compromising on anything, and his solo work, in my opinion, only improved with time, even if it wasn’t what many of his fans wanted.

Van Halen kept making records, and selling them, and it looked like they won. Both camps said they wouldn’t get back together, but for different reasons. When Dave started on radio, never mind his stint as an EMT, it seemed like he’d given up on music, even if that wasn’t the case, as he’d given up a tour to start his radio gig and had just made a new album.

Speculation on the subject of the split never ceased, but not among my friends. Van Halen was still Not Cool. I still listened to my albums in secret. I still didn’t wear tight pants.

Interviews with David Lee Roth, with the benefit of hindsight, are revealing. During the 1984 tour, you can see he was worried a little, saying that rock bands are fragile entities, who knows what the future will bring? Once he was on his own, and doing the talk show circuit, the old bluster was gone, replaced by a class clown. Van Halen was together for 11 years (6 from the release of their first album), and you can see in the way his persona changed how much of his identity had been wrapped up in being the front man for Van Halen. That’s who he was, and without it, he couldn’t seem to find solid footing. Even after he left the group, that’s who he was, but without them behind him, he was just David Lee Roth. He was the lead singer of Van Halen. Sammy Hagar was only a temporary replacement.

Eventually, Hagar had to go, too. A reunion was announced, but an awkward interaction at the MTV Awards, and hurt pride lead to “anything but Dave” and another guy got the gig, only to leave soon after a disastrous album.

As recently as January 2007, David Lee Roth was saying that any reunion of Van Halen would end in a NASCAR-style wreck, despite only a few months earlier saying a reunion was inevitable. In March 2007, Eddie Van Halen went into rehab, and maybe that did the trick. A few months later, a press conference was held, announcing the new band, not a reunion. Typing those words alone still gets my heart going.

The band filed into the room, Dave wearing a hip length, dark blue, toreador jacket, embroidered at the neck, front, and cuffs. He was 52, spandex doesn’t do it like it used to. They stood together, Alex, Dave, Eddie, and Eddie’s son, Wolfgang (Michael Anthony having been fired over something to do with something else). They all had microphones in front of them, but really, with Dave there, what’s the point? Dave is the front man, even at a press conference.

Eddie referred to Dave as “my new brother.” The biggest applause came, though, to Eddie’s response to a question about if this is just a tour or if there will be an album. He said, more or less, that Van Halen is a band, and they’re going to do what bands do, which is make music and tour. Dave acknowledged Van Halen’s responsibility to the fans’ desire for their particular brand of rock. Every guitar lick, every drumbeat, will be just where they left it. He knows their audience. After 22 years, they want the fun back. Roth’s attitude had always been that Van Halen was about rock and roll, not saving the whales. (“That tubercular look is ok, baby, nothing wrong with that, but we’re from California.”) In his words at the press conference, “It’s Bono’s job to save the world. We just want to save a hundred cities.”

The class clown is gone, and the bluster is back, if muted. This is David Lee Roth. He’s back where he belongs, and everyone in the band seemed to agree. Wolfgang seems a little disinterested, but the band broke up before he was born, so who cares? Dave answered all the questions, answered them well, and then deliberately turned attention to Eddie and Alex, seamlessly giving them the stage, wanting to make sure any question of his dominance of the group went unasked. His identity returned, he wants to keep it.

This time, I thought, nothing would stop me from going to the show. I bought the eponymous Van Halen album, as well as Women and Children First, having heard them mostly on FM radio, but I still had to listen to them alone. My mother, hearing Van Halen’s cover of Pretty Woman said, “They butchered it!” I hardly thought she’d be into Running with the Devil, if she could even make out the words. I bought a single ticket, but mostly because I could only get the expensive ones at that point. Solitary in my passion for the band, solitary I would see and hear them.

Bob Marley’s son opened the show, but no one cared.

I bought a t-shirt.

The lights go down, the crowd goes wild. An explosion of light and there’s Dave, at the top of a ramp, waving a big red flag, and wearing a bright yellow jacket, the same shade as the spandex pants on the photo in my locker in junior high. Alex is center-rear entrenched among his drums, with Eddie directly in front of him, the brothers at center stage. It is called Van Halen after all. Wolfgang is way off to the left, like an orbiting moon. Alex and Eddie are planets, but Dave is the sun. He walks down the ramp, and Van Halen is back. There are no more splits, no more kickboxing, but a still a few perfectly respectable roundhouse kicks. He’s 53 now, and when he takes off the jacket and unbuttons his shirt, he’s still amazing. He no longer moves like a snake, but the animal is still inside, waiting: you can see it behind the eyes. He’s thrilled to be here, and we’re thrilled for him.

Dave and Eddie had huge grins on their faces throughout the entire concert, only growing larger the closer they got to each other, like they can’t believe they waited this long; like high school sweethearts who broke up over a misunderstanding, and now it’s all been cleared up. I held my breath before this concert, not sure it wouldn’t implode before it got to Calgary, but I think Eddie’s right, it is a band again, and every one of them is right where he should be.

The band was tight. The music was still hard, instinctive, fast, and fun. It still made me smile and giggle. I realized at the show that Van Halen is essentially a blues band that can’t sit still, and isn’t sad because their woman left them. Blues trickled out between songs, testing to see if anyone was listening. I even heard some Eagles in there.

Van Halen was together for eleven years before the split. It took twice that time for them to reunite. You’d think we’d have all gotten over it at some point, but watching them together, the reason we didn’t is clear: because they never got over it, either. It’s not Van Halen without David Lee Roth, and he’s not completely Diamond Dave without Van Halen.

Given the success of the tour, and how it’s destroyed every other reunion tour this year, I feel comfortable coming out: I love Van Halen. There, I said it. Given the ticket sales, I know I’m not alone. Their thrill in the playing is still obvious. It’s not old, it’s not tired, and it’s not lacklustre. It’s not even a stereotype. Dave’s not kickboxing the air anymore, or prancing much, but you know he wants to, and I want to, too. I’ve recently realized that I’m a hard rock chick. Or rather, not realized it, but admitted it to myself. Out loud. I love the high velocity, the drumbeat, the ritualistic chant. I love how I can’t help but move to it. If I’d gone to my area school, it might be more obvious, but where I went, Those Kids hung out at the edge of the field. I mean, I’ve got the hair.

I’m still not allowed to wear tight pants, though.

I’ve had intellectual heroes, but they didn’t affect my manners. They didn’t inspire me to say what was on my mind, damn the torpedoes. David Lee Roth might not be able to help me with my thesis, but he’ll help me with my presentation. I might still rub people the wrong way, but I don’t think anyone who knows me begrudges me the fact, really.

Society stands on the sidelines, telling us what we’re allowed to wear. Everyone has a uniform. No one is allowed to colour outside the lines. We’ve all seen Those People, we’ve all looked at them funny, and told our friends about them later. Only those with a sense of style big enough to crush us can get away with it. David Lee Roth can wear a Pucci-inspired body suit and get away with it. I’ve seen it. It’s his personality, though, that really takes us on the ride. He’s pompous, arrogant, egotistical, down to earth, witty, lucid, expressive, and sharp. Few people are allowed to live at both ends of the neighbourhood. David Lee Roth lives there, invites us in, and dares us to kick him out.

He invites us in to play, but how many of us are willing to do anything other than watch? His challenge to my young senses took me unawares. I know people look at me funny, and I blame him. I know people are looking at me funny right now. “Fuck. All this over David Lee Roth?” which kind of proves my point. Everyone has something they’re a little embarrassed about liking a little too much, and if they don’t, they’re missing out. If I said I’d been inspired by David Suzuki, or Noam Chomsky, or even Al Gore everyone would think that was Perfectly Appropriate. “Primal” is not high on anyone’s list of inspirational qualities.

I want Sexy. I want Smart. I want the tight pants and intellectual challenge, and I don’t want to feel embarrassed for wanting both. I don’t want someone to look at my outfit and call “bimbo” and I don’t want someone to look at my glasses and call “dull.” I want to have visible tattoos and still be able to get a job. I want to wear a violently coloured spandex body suit and still be taken seriously. I want to be judged for the content of my character, not the colour of my stiletto heels.

But mostly, I just want to fuck David Lee Roth.

It doesn’t get better and it doesn’t get worse, but it sure gets different!

I was indifferent to Sammy Hagar. I found that version of Van Halen indistinct and unidentifiable on the radio. I know people loved them, but that wasn’t me. I liked the classic stuff, and when the band got back with David Lee Roth, I was pretty happy. I’ve been blogging some creative writing stuff, but I felt like I needed a Van Halen outlet. There’s already a news desk (Van Halen News Desk), so I don’t need to do that, but I have a Google alert and I hear stuff, and I feel stuff when I hear stuff, so I thought I’d share the stuff I feel, and maybe connect with others who feel stuff, too.

This’ll be a wee bit slanted toward David Lee Roth. He’s big as life, and he changes the dynamic of the band pretty hard, and, well, more on that later. I just wanted to say that if you’re here for how I feel about Van Hagar, well, it’s stated above.

I hope the blog suits you, and if it does, hey man, that suit is you!