Concert Review: Van Halen at the Xcel Energy Center

It’s been said that if it doesn’t sweat and it doesn’t smell then it isn’t rock and roll. If that’s true then surely the Van Halen show Saturday night at St. Paul’s Xcel Energy Center qualified as rock and roll. Lead singer David Lee Roth requested that the air conditioning be turned off. Dave is 57 years old and apparently the A/C doesn’t do his aging vocal cords any favors. In fact there is a YouTube video of Dave ranting about the A/C. The high temp Saturday was in the mid 80s and very humid so inside the packed Xcel Center it was a cooker. It was kind of like going to an older relative’s house and they keep the temp up around 80 something.

I think this is the real reason behind the postponement of the shows this summer. Dave and the rest of the band appeared to get along fine on stage so I don’t think in-fighting is the reason. Doing a summer arena tour with no A/C would be a hot mess so I can see why they are postponing the shows. If Dave can’t sing with the A/C on then they might as well go on a hiatus.

Having said all of that a little heat and humidity is not a show stopper. While Dave is not the most gifted singer, nobody goes to a Van Halen show in 2012 expecting vocal perfection. He’s going to forget some words and miss some notes but that’s no reason to get down on the man. Even at 57 he’s still one of the best front men in rock and that’s what he is there for. When you get down to it nobody else has any business singing Unchained, Running with the Devil, Hot for Teacher or any of the other Van Halen classics.

Eddie was brilliant as he usually is save for his 2004 alcohol induced melt down. If you came to the show expecting pick slides, whammy bar dive-bombs, pinch harmonics,  tapping and all sorts of other guitar gymnastics you came to the right place. Alex was also kicking ass on the drums as he usually does. Although his drum solo was 4-5 minutes instead of the usual 10. A pleasant surprise was the rapidly maturing Wolfgang Van Halen on the bass. He held down the bottom end just fine and played tightly with his father and uncle. His background vocals were up to snuff as well. He may not be able to hit the high notes that Michael Anthony did but his singing is just fine. Wolfgang is a strapping young lad whose broad shoulders look capable of holding up the old guys for the foreseeable future.

So the Van Halens played their asses off and Dave sung as good as he is probably capable of at this stage of the game. I had a damn good time rocking out to the VH classics and even the new tunes like “She’s the Woman.” The 64,000 dollar question is can they keep it going? One always wonders if Van Halen is going to implode at any time given how volatile these guys are. But it appears that they have come to realize that if they can’t make this lineup work then they might as well pack it in and go home. Thankfully none of the band members are having health issues, which was also a concern after the announcement last week of the 2nd leg of the tour being postponed.

I would say this to fans that are holding tickets to the postponed shows: I think that these shows WILL be played so don’t push the panic button. Van Halen is worth waiting for so I wouldn’t fret about having my show pushed back a month or two. After seeing last night’s show at the X I’m confident that we have not seen the last of the Mighty Van Halen just yet….  

You can click here to see the set list and Dave’s new public relations video.