Tokyo Dome Live in Concert (2015)


Disc One 1. Unchained
2. Runnin' With the Devil
3. She's the Woman
4. I'm the One
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.Me & You (Drum Solo)
12.You Really Got Me
Disc Two
1. Dance the Night Away
2. I'll Wait
3. And the Cradle Will Rock
4. Hot For Teacher
5. Women in Love
6. Romeo Delight
7. Mean Streets
8. Beautiful Girls
9. Ice Cream Man
10.Panama
11.Eruption
12.Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
13.Jump


 

I suppose that this was inevitable. After decades of squabbling and breaking up/getting back together, Van Halen finally reunited with original front man David Lee Roth. They managed to quickly get a new album out, and managed to embark on a few different world tours. I say “managed” because nothing comes easy when discussing the egos involved within this band. Van Halen was always rock and roll at its best and at its worst at the same time.

Fortunately, this record manages to contain pretty much the best of the best from the Roth era led Van Halen. No annoying covers are included, and the two solos by the brothers are both kept at under 3 minutes (drums) and 9 minutes (guitar). Critics have lashed out at the singer because, well, he’s lost a lot of vocal range during his 30 year absence. Personally, I think this is somewhat unfair. Yes, his voice has gone downhill, but it’s only so glaring because we haven’t heard him in so long. Had Roth been in Van Halen during this entire time, the differences would be somewhat diminished. For example, Geddy Lee from the band Rush has lost an awful lot in the lead vocal department, but since Rush never really stopped playing nor touring since 1974, the differences (although notable) aren’t nearly as jarring.

Then, we come to the absence of Michael Anthony. Van Halen simply wouldn’t be Van Halen without Edward being pissed off at some former member, and Anthony was unceremoniously axed and replaced by yet another family member (Edward’s son, Wolfgang). Maybe it’s because I’m not a musician, but I certainly don’t notice any difference in how the bass sounds. Maybe this is due to overdubbing, I’m not sure. I do know, though, that Michael Anthony did have an excellent tenor voice and provided some killer background vocals both in the studio and live. That, sadly, is sorely missed, but doesn’t really take that much away from the overall enjoyment of the record.

So having excused the above two offenses, I must still say that this album is definitely lacking something. I attribute it more to the Van Halen brand, and the fact, no matter how good they sound, a band like Van Halen simply can’t ever be as good as they were during the early 1980s. A big part of the enjoyment of a Van Halen show was the raunchy, sexy, alcohol fumed excess that these guys did better than anyone else. If you never saw a Van Halen concert from the early 1980s, you truly missed something special. Being that the guys are so much older now, you simply can’t replicate such an experience. I remember a female fan telling me the difference. She said “David Lee Roth was incredibly sexy back in 1984. Now, he looks like your perverted uncle who you hope that you don’t have to sit next to at Thanksgiving Dinner.” That sums it up rather nicely.

So during this record, we hear Roth and his customary obnoxious interactions with the audience, and it just seems forced and unwelcome. He’s yelling lots of Japanese nonsense at the crowd while trying to be funny/dirty/sexy and it just never seems to work. I will concede, however, that maybe it’s because the audience simply doesn’t understand him. How many Japanese can speak or understand fluent English? Which leads to another question: Why was this album recorded in Tokyo? With Roth’s shenanigans, it seems like such a shtick could have gone over much better with an American audience.

Still, though, the band really does sound good. Even though Roth as lost a bit, Alex and Edward sound as good as always. Perhaps the problem is I, myself, am getting older. By the time I get to the encore/guitar solo of Eruption, I’m simply wanting the thing to hurry up and end so I can go do something else. I don’t know if they have any live shows “in the vault” from the early 1980s, but if so, I think I would enjoy one of those experiences a whole lot better.

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