Van Halen Concert
This past summer brought one of the greatest concerts ever to be played in Massachusetts. Van Halen made a stop at Great Woods on their “Right Here, Right Now” World Tour, their only show in Massachusetts. Though the band is more than 15 years old, they displayed the great rock of a new band at its best. With Sammy Hagar leading the band, many will agree Van Halen can still rock with the best of ’em.
Vince Neil, touring with his new band, opened the show and got the crowd off its feet. He played new hits from his recent album, but the highlights of his performance were flashback songs like “Dr. Feelgood” and, best of all, “Home Sweet Home.” With guitarist Steve Stephans, Vince Neil made an impressive opening act for what was to follow.
The crowd got to its feet as the lights in the outdoor pavilion dimmed.
The opening guitar riffs of “Mine All Mine” blared through the enormous speakers as blue and green lights twisted and flashed everywhere. Each member of Van Halen came on one at a time. Michael Anthony ran on playing bass, then Eddie Van Halen on guitar, and, of course, Sammy Hagar burst on singing. Finally, the unmistakable drum beats of Alex Van Halen set the crowd into screams.
Every light on the stage went on and the members of Van Halen went straight into the song “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” Without slowing the tempo, the band instantly went into the rock ballad “When It’s Love.” If you love the song on tape, the live performance will blow you away. Van Halen puts their heart and soul into all of their music, and it shows. Next, the great song from the past “One Way To Rock” was played with enthusiasm the crowd felt. Then, the band played possibly the best song ever recorded, “Right Now.” Only pausing momentarily to fire up the crowd even more, they burst into the song “Judgment Day.”
Highlights of this performance would have to be the solos. Michael Anthony played a 6- or 7-minute set displaying the rare talent he possesses. After the songs “Why Can’t This Be Love” and “Top Of The World,” a personal favorite, Eddie Van Halen began possibly the most impressive solo I have ever seen. He stayed true to his reputation as one of the greatest guitarists in the world.
The band made a smooth transition into the unique song “Pleasure Dome.” This point marked Sammy Hagar’s turn for a solo. He explained the meaning of, then played the acoustic song, “Give To Live.” The lighters lit the pavilion like Christmas Eve. The peace and quiet didn’t last long as the rest of the band cane on and ran right into “Best of Both Worlds” and “Spanked.” Alex Van Halen took his turn in the spotlight for a short solo as lights danced to the beats he played.
Immediately after the drum solo, the band played “Panama,” a hit from the David Lee Roth era. After a 5-minute break, the band came on for an encore presentation. For the final three songs, the band chose ones the crowd would most enjoy. First, they played “Finish What Ya Started.” Then, possibly the greatest song played that night, Van Halen played “Jump,” better than David Lee Roth ever could have. For the final song, the band played the Neil Young classic “Rockin’ in a Free World.” Every person there was singing along as bright white lights showered the audience.
There was a fireworks display coinciding with the band’s final entourage of guitar, bass, and drums. Overall, the evening presented several climaxes for the audience, and devoted fans for the band. Van Halen’s exclusive show in New England, over two and three-quarters hours long, rates among the best. Van Halen, one of the superpowers of rock, left their fans with a great memory and an even greater longing for the music known as Van Halen. n
K. M., Grafton, MA
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