Sunday, July 19, 2015

Runnin' with the Devil!

I am working on what will probably be the first installment of a 2 or 3 part post on our amazing Amazon river trip, but in the meantime, a quick post about another important life event....

In nineteen hundred and seventy nine, Van Halen was on tour to promote their new album -ingeniously called Van Halen II - as the follow up to their earth-shattering Van Halen I.  And they were coming to Portland. Like every teenager, I was keen to see them, but I also saw a bit of an opportunity; I knew they'd sell out, and once I found out that the tickets were going on sale mid-morning, mid-week I knew that at least some of my fellow rockers might get aced out.  So I enlisted my able accomplice - Tom's Mom - who agreed to go down at 7am, stand in line, and buy TEN Van Halen tickets!  Love that woman!  Sure enough, the show sold out, I doubled the price of my available ticks that my pards very grudgingly paid me, gave my ma a peck on the cheek for her troubles, and everybody won!

And last night, I got to see Van Halen again.  After Sammy Hagar left  -whom I also liked and saw before the vaunted Van Hagar days - I kinda lost track of them and what albums they had done with whom, but when I heard that they were coming to SLC with David Lee Roth back at the helm I rousted my fellow aging rockers to rally out and see even-more-aging rockers.  And we were not only not disappointed, we were psyched.  Simply:  Van Halen tore it down.   David Lee Roth was still doing those legendary high kicks and near-splits at the ripe young age of 60, his voice hasn't aged a bit, and despite a zillion years and a zillion aspirational guitarists trying to match him (including Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who opened the show and is a total guitar slayer), Eddie Van Halen proved yet again that he's simply a guitar magician.

What seems to be a fun aspect of some of these geriatric rockers is that they don't seem to take themselves very seriously; they genuinely seem to be having fun, they know that there's no more meaning to anything in their music besides iconic riffs and inane but well-memorized lyrics, and they understand that people just want to see a fun show.  Diamond Dave in particular - whom I believe was the inspiration for Stacee Jaxx in "Rock of Ages" (or at least, he inspired those who in turn inspired Stacee Jaxx!) is now a "perfect parody of himself", as venerable rock fan Scott Martin mused.  And in Van Halen's case, it's a fun family affair; in addition to brothers Alex and Eddy, Eddy's (and Valerie Bertinelli's) son Wolfgang is the bassist and does great with their iconic backup vocals.

As always, one of the best things about these shows is the crowd.  It's always a good reminder that there are a lot of people who are different than us in SLC.  Here are a few pics:

The guys with the "I saw Van Halen before" T-shirts:
2003 - pretty good.  
2004, shirt still in good shape:  pretty good.  
1993 - well done!  
The "I don't have a VH t-shirt but I am a rocker because I have this concert tee"
Boston:  sick!
I didn't get pics but also saw Kiss, Lynard Skynard, Tommy Lee, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, The Who, and Ted Nugent tee shirts....

the "I don't have a concert tee but I'm part of this culture" tee:

The "edgy rocker girls":

thanks to Christian for getting this one; I saw the shoes but missed the shot!  
The old rockers:
this guy's been ridden hard and put away wet....
the young rockers
The funlovin' characters:

and last but not least.....the hardcore....the Mullets:
a bit grainy, but a killer Skullet
Winning Best Mullet in Show, topped off by the wide terrycloth bandana and bottomed by the black wife beater.
And I double checked in the beer line:  the hair was real.  
The folks who didn't fit in:
Possibly the only Wasatch Community Gardens sun hat in the show?
but then realized they would fit in better by showing the universal heavy metal salute!
But once the band got goin' it was all about the music, and the boys didn't miss a beat, charging from one hit to the next and mixing in a few good "new" (since 1996?) songs as well.

Hopefully it won't be another 35 years before I see them again!
poached from Wikipedia

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