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    Van Halen rock the concord Pavilion
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David Lee Roth and Eddie Van Halen together again

in SF Concert Reviews by

It was great seeing the boys of Van Halen together again on stage last night. You could feel the camaraderie that hadn’t been seen between the two in years. Heck, there was a time when guitarist Eddie Van Halen and singer David Lee Roth could barely stand to be in the same room, let alone play music together. Well that wasn’t the case last night, when the dynamic duo rocked the night away just like old times, and the place was smokin’. The only concern throughout the night was not whether they’d hit their cues, and if David Lee Roth’s voice would be able to stand the two-and-a-half hour set, but rather how long this newly rekindled love affair would last.

David and Eddie moved slower than in their heyday, and the show started surprisingly — exactly on time. Somewhat unusual for rock shows that notoriously start late in order to build up anticipation, but at this age the band‘s probably more interested in securing a good night’s sleep after a hard day’s work, than doing some lines of coke with the local groupies at the after party. Roth pulled his usual pirouettes, corny jokes and microphone stand twirls, but sounded great. He was charming, charismatic, and grabbed your attention relentlessly from start to finish, the way only a true rock ‘n’ roll frontman does. Eddie was right there next to him smiling and tearing up his guitar as only he knows how to do. For each lyrical flourish from Roth, Eddie was ready to match with an equally melodic riff. It’s no wonder that these two go at it; when you see both of them on stage you can’t help but notice the fire of competition that rises in both of them.

The band was comprised almost identically of the classic Van Halen lineup, but missed one important element — Michael Anthony. And although you have to hand it to the young Wolfgang Van Halen (yes, Eddie’s son), for doing a great job at playing the original Van Halen parts note for note, it just wasn’t the same. There are some hard lessons that need to be learned on the road before one can reach Anthony’s legendary status, and young Wolfie, although a very competent player, just isn’t there yet. And, besides who wants to live the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle with their dad, anyway? In the end, the show was solid with a set list for this tour that is made up of songs perfectly suited for the Summer concert series: “Everybody Wants Some,” “Runnin’ With the Devil,” “Hot for Teacher,” as well as all the other classics and of course the obligatory guitar solo.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd opened the show and gave the audience a taste for the guitar-fueled classic rock that was to come. This young guitarist perfectly laced his blazing guitar solos over Noah Hunt’s signature classic rock vocals with songs that were catchy, emotive and tight. The comparisons of Shepherd to Stevie Ray Vaughan are hard to miss. Their playing styles are strikingly similar, all the way from the Albert King classic “eeeeee-tah-dahs” to the leather guitar straps branded with their names that both wear. It was no surprise to see sitting behind the kit the original drummer of the famous blues rock guitarist’s Double Trouble band. That being said, the kid’s got talent and some great songs, and although the set was a little low on energy for a young band like this, everyone in the audience was enjoying it. A great time was had by all, as they bopped their heads and tapped their feet to the rhythm of the band, holding pints of beers, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Concord Pavilion. Not bad for a Thursday night.

Set list

Light Up the Sky
Runnin’ With the Devil
Romeo Delight
Everybody Wants Some!!
Drop Dead Legs
Feel Your Love Tonight
Somebody Get Me a Doctor
She’s the Woman
China Town
I’ll Wait
Drum Solo
Little Guitars
Dance the Night Away
Beautiful Girls
Women in Love
Hot for Teacher
In a Simple Rhyme
“Dirty Movies”
Ice Cream Man
(John Brim cover)
Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
Guitar Solo
You Really Got Me


Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.