Concert Review: Van Halen's Van-Sanity at Madison Square Garden
Locking in with Alex’s precise drumming (at least it sounded like Alex, although with his dark sunglasses he looked like Link Wray behind the kit), Wolfgang gave the band’s rhythm section a muscular punch that shook the arena like an earthquake.
The fiery unison bass and guitar tapping on “Chinatown” proves that Wolfgang can keep up with his dad, as Ed and Wolfgang’s licks rivaled the intensity of Billy Sheehan and Steve Vai’s performance on David Lee Roth’s “Shy Boy.” Wolfgang’s background harmony vocals (which are not piped-in tapes of Anthony’s vocals, despite persisting Internet troll claims) were consistently solid, especially on “Dance the Night Away” when David Lee Roth apparently chose to sing the melody to an entirely different song.
With this being only the fifth show of the tour, there were a few glitches and most of them involved David Lee Roth, who at times was the weak link in the chain, even if that chain is made of titanium. Roth struggled with the lyrics to most of the new songs, blurting out the infamous “I forgot the fuckin’ words” line during “Chinatown.” The other problem was of a technical nature when Roth’s headset crapped out during “The Trouble With Never” (which should be renamed “The Trouble With Headsets”).
Unlike the previous gig in Chicago where Roth was visibly perturbed with the technical difficulties, Roth kept his cool and performed like a pro, keeping the between-song banter concise and refreshingly humorous and allowing the music to flow almost non-stop.
Despite Roth’s occasional missteps, it’s still great to see him on stage fronting the band again and giving the Van Halen brothers the opportunity to perform several of their greatest classic songs from their first six albums. After all, who wouldn’t prefer hearing “Ice Cream Man” over “Where Eagles Fly”? With Ed playing in peak form, the show is this year’s must-see for any guitarist who has ever wanted to witness his majesty and mystique in the flesh.
MADISON SQUARE GARDEN SET LIST, FEBRUARY 28
You Really Got Me
Runnin’ With the Devil
She’s the Woman
Everybody Wants Some!
Somebody Get Me a Doctor
Hear About It Later
Oh, Pretty Woman
The Trouble With Never
Dance the Night Away
Hot For Teacher
Women in Love
Girl Gone Bad
Ice Cream Man
Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love