The spandex may be a little less tight (barely) and the hair a lot shorter, but make no mistake about it, Van Halen still know how to party. On their lengthy tour the purveyors of the world’s greatest strip club soundtrack made a jaunt through Texas with a show at the Austin360 Amphitheater on Monday. The band brought their infamous tales of beautiful girls and partying nights to an audience who – as one bright yellow banner declared – were ready for some “Van Fuckin Halen.”
All smiles and waves, the Van Halen family plus David Lee Roth took the stage and rocketed off with “Light Up The Sky”. Diamond Dave matched Eddie Van Halen grin for grin, mugging for the crowd as he pranced and slid all over the stage. A follow-up of “Runnin’ With The Devil” was a sure way to get the audience fully on the train. It’s sort of amazing that a band who’s catalogue consists almost entirely of songs about partying with gorgeous women is still such a draw after so many decades, but even on this current tour the fact remains the same: Van Halen still rocks. The band made their way through roughly two hours of greatest hits, with especially strong guitar work on “Everybody Wants Some!!” and “She’s The Woman”. David Lee Roth even nailed those high kicks in between flamboyant dance moves and slipping behind the drum riser for a sip of the good stuff. Though there were occasional vocal flubs in the first part of the show, as the band got loosened up they only gained momentum, with Roth shining on the rapped vocals of “Dirty Movies” and his acoustically plucked intro to “Ice Cream Man”. Of course, the biggest hits like “Hot For Teacher” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” got huge reactions from the ladies in the audience, who danced on chairs and tossed fiery red bras onstage.
The energy reached its zenith not for the monster encore closing of “You Really Got Me”, “Panama”, and “Jump”, but for Eddie Van Halen’s face-melting, intricate guitar solo that last nearly ten minutes and included a “Happy Birthday” tribute shred to his mother, who “would be a hundred today!” Quite frankly, his solo could have been the show and it would have been worth the price of the ticket. But in the end Van Halen is still about the unit, a group of guys making music about partying and beautiful women, and for as long as that resonates with the public it will be worth seeing live.
Photos by Arthur VanRooy.