When Van Halen first appeared on the live scene in the late 70s, they revolutionised hard rock. Artists like Led Zeppelin were playing mammoth live sets, dominated by huge solos and many other rock acts were seeming just a little…tired. Van Halen’s combination of volume and energy was said to floor any act they were invited to support. Just one listen to their self-titled debut album makes it easy to see why.
The power in ‘Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love’ and ‘On Fire’, combined with the jaw dropping ‘Eruption’ – during which guitarist Edward Van Halen pretty much reinvented what was considered “cool” at the time – still makes that record a thrilling listen decades on.
Even later, after frontman David Lee Roth had departed and the “Red Rocker” Sammy Hagar took the band in a more melodic direction, Eddie’s guitar chops were second to none. In many ways, if Van Halen could’ve combined David’s energy and showmanship with Sammy’s superior voice, they’d have had rock’s ultimate frontman. No matter what the era, though, the songs often spoke for themselves.
Except for one brief moment in time, when Sammy stepped aside and Van Halen made an album and went on tour with Extreme’s Gary Cherone. Nobody really talks about that and, looking back, it’s often not hard to work out why. That odd interlude seems like some weird fever dream and is far, far, from Van Halen’s finest hour.
But… It did at least give us this show. Professionally filmed, shown on satellite TV, but never given a proper home video or DVD release, this gig from Sydney shows that there were some good times during the uncertain period…and if you remain unconvinced by Cherone’s attempts at delivering old favourites, he appears to pay his own penance by throwing himself down some stairs.
Join us, as we revisit an unloved show, but with some decent EVH guitar work, there’s always fun to be had. Goodbye Eddie, we’ll miss you.
[Edward Van Halen 1955-2020]