Summer Nights in Tampa Bay With Van Halen

By on September 21, 2015

 

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

Van Halen at the Mid Florida Credit Union Amp

Some concerts are concerts, some concerts are shows, and then some concerts are events. But Sunday’s performance by Van Halen at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, (“MFCUA”), in Tampa was a combination of all three, and I think that many in attendance that Sunday night, would agree.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

There was a buzz of excitement in the Tampa Bay area for the months leading up to this show, and with the addition of some discounted tickets available and a flurry of local advertising, the MFCUA was packed. It also helped that the month-long rain that pelted the area (and ruined many a concert) this summer had finally subsided. Another draw was that it was Van Halen with David Lee Roth. To say the relationship between the Van Halen brothers and David Lee Roth has been tumultuous throughout the years, would be an understatement, as the drama has been well documented. But, there would be questions about Roth’s pipes, as I have read more than one review from previous shows on this tour that included negative comments about his vocals.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

In any event, this was also a special night for me, as I would be seeing Van Halen with David Lee Roth for the first time. I had two prior opportunities to see Van Halen with David Lee Roth: the last one was on Van Halen’s A Different Kind Of Truth tour in 2012; and the one that kills me to this day, back in 1984. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was 14 years old and Van Halen was on top of the rock world after releasing its sixth album, 1984. The singles “Jump,” “Panama,” “I’ll wait,” and “Hot For Teacher” were blearing from homes, boom boxes and car stereos throughout America. T-shirts with the 1984 album cover (you remember: the one with the baby smoking a cigarette) were worn by high school kids, at the mall, and if you owned a jean jacket, the Van Halen logo was embroidered on it.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

One night while I was doing laundry in the basement, my older sister, Laura, said that her friends had an extra ticket to the Van Halen show at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago and asked me if I wanted to go. I can vividly (and stupidly) remember telling Laura that I “had plans” and that I would catch them on their next tour.   Boy was that a mistake! Little did I know that that would be Van Halen’s last tour with the original lineup as David Lee Roth would leave the band and release his solo project: the epic Eat ‘Em and Smile.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

David Lee Roth would not return to the stage with Van Halen for over two over decades (2007) and when he did, it would be without bassist Michael Anthony. The first time I saw a Van Halen show was in 1988, with Sammy Hagar. That summer, Van Halen headlined the Monsters of Rock Festival with the Scorpions and a hungry Metallica in support. Metallica was recording And Justice For All and in a few years would take over the metal world. That Monsters of Rock Festival was not only unforgettable because of the stellar lineup, but it also included infighting onstage between Don Dokken and George Lynch of Dokken, which lead to their inevitable breakup.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

As we fast forward thirty years to a beautiful Sunday night in Tampa, Van Halen took the stage and surprised their fans by opening with “Light up the Sky” from Van Halen II. This selection set the tone as the song list was extensive and filled with fan favorites and deep tracks. David Lee Roth crashed huge symbols then crashed himself a song later as he fell backwards onto the stage. He recovered like a champ with a huge smile on his face (you can see it on YouTube). “Light up the Sky” spawned a whole generation of new guitarists and bands that would later place their names on the rock-n- roll timeline.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

Wolfgang Van Halen strummed the opening bass lines of “Running With The Devil” as the stage was em-blazed with red and white lights and Eddie Van Halen took center stage. It was during “Running With The Devil” that David Lee Roth started “talk-singing”. Roth would partially sing the lyrics but talk them also. I’m not sure why he does this because when he actually sings, he can pull off most of the old songs and during “She’s The Woman” and “China Town” from the recent A Different Kind Of Truth, Roth sounded great.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

Roth was the quintessential front man that he is known for, and engaged the crowd as if they were on the stage with him. He told a story about meeting his idol James Brown, while sitting on a wooden chair and playing a harmonica and acoustic guitar. It was Dave’s stage. Next up was “Ice Cream Man.” Diamond Dave also took selfies with the people in the front row and conversed with individual fans in the crowd for extended periods of time. He unbuttoned his yellow puffy shirt to show the ladies his tattooed abs. It was a bit excessive, but so is David Lee Roth, but the hit packed set list and the spot-on performances by Eddie and Alex Van Halen made up for it.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

Eddie Van Halen looks great and sounded even better especially during “Everybody Wants Some” and the Fair Warning classics “Dirty Movies” and “Unchained.” It looked like all was well on stage between the band-mates as they played off each other’s stage moves and were in synch choreographically.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

There was another question in regard to the harmonies with Wolfgang Van Halen taking over the duties as bassist and backup vocalist for Michael Anthony. Wolfgang’s bass playing abilities and keeping in rhythm with Alex Van Halen were spot on, and most of the harmonies throughout the set were perfect, but there were other times, specifically during “In A Simple Rhyme,” where I actually cringed a bit. The harmonic glitches were rare, but the smiles between the members of the Van Halen family were frequent, especially when the three of them shared the drum riser during “Running With The Devil.”

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

Speaking of Alex Van Halen, he did a drum solo between the 1984 classic “I’ll Wait” and “Little Guitars” that had a Spanish rumba type sound. It was different that what you would expect in regard to a drum solo and I’ll take a different type of drum solo if a band throws it in there. Eddie performed his own solo after the 21st song in the set, “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” It was an awesome solo where Eddie incorporated parts of “Little Guitars,” “Mean Streets,” and of course,  “Eruption.” Clocking in at about 9 minutes, it was timed perfectly. Not too short, not too long.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

Van Halen closed out their 25 song set-list with three of their biggest hits: “You Really Got Me,” “Panama,” and “Jump.” Van Halen didn’t play any of their material with Sammy Hagar and they didn’t need to. Van Halen’s body of work with David Lee Roth is extensive and they could of easily played another two hours, as many wished they had.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

September 13th’s Van Halen show in Tampa was The Concert event of the summer of 2015. It was a musical walk down memory lane, as the fans danced the night away with David Lee Roth and played air guitar with Eddie Van Halen. Was it a memorable show?Absolutely. Were questions answered with a couple glitches? Yes, but that’s Rock-n-Roll, and Van Halen is Rock-N-Roll.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

Set List :

    1. Light Up the Sky

    2. Runnin’ With the Devil

    3. Romeo Delight

    4. Everybody Wants Some!!

    5. Drop Dead Legs

    6. Feel Your Love Tonight

    7. Somebody Get Me a Doctor

    8. She’s the Woman

    9. China Town

    10. I’ll Wait

    11. Drum Solo

    12. Little Guitars

    13. Dance the Night Away

    14. Beautiful Girls

    15. Women in Love

    16. Hot for Teacher

    17. In a Simple Rhyme

    18. “Dirty Movies”

    19. Ice Cream Man

(John Brim cover) (Preced by David Lee Roth solo… more )

    1. Unchained

    2. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love

    3. Guitar Solo

(Spanish Fly, Little Guitars… more )

    1. You Really Got Me

(The Kinks cover)

    1. Panama

    2. Jump

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