UPDATE 8/23: Sadly, the full video has now been removed, but smaller clips are still doing the rounds on Instagram.
It’s a good day to be a Van Halen fan, as one of the band’s most sought-after clips has surfaced online – a full video of the group’s 1984 performance at Donnington’s Monsters of Rock festival.
The date, the first of five the group played on the Monsters Of Rock tour that year, took place in front of a crowd of 65,000 and saw the group share a bill with the likes of AC/DC, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne and Gary Moore.
The event represented the band at the height of their powers, playing their first performance in the UK since 1980 and one of their last with David Lee Roth.
The full footage has long been rumored to exist and pro-shot segments were used on MTV Europe and BBC music show The Old Grey Whistle Test – in addition, the band were also said to have shot their own footage of the event.
Now an hour-long clip of the show has been shared on YouTube. As you can see, the group’s set list for the day included Hot For Teacher, Runnin’ With The Devil, 1984, Panama, Jump and You Really Got Me, alongside a cover of Pretty Woman, extensive drum and bass solos (in which Michael Anthony fully wigs out) – and, of course, Eddie’s own electric guitar centerpiece.
The footage jumps around the set a little and is limited to the one camera but nonetheless offers an incredible stage-eye view and a wealth of never-before-seen clips.
Van Halen’s guitar solo section – in which he’s armed with his Hot For Teacher Kramer – can be seen from around 45 mins. The guitar icon baits the crowd with some incredibly dextrous muted picking, before Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen add some rhythmic depth for a section of blues-infused shred magic.
By minute four, he’s taken a turn into neoclassical territory, with a bit of souped-up classical fingerstyle and then it slowly morphs into some electronica style arpeggios that nod to his increasing interest in synths at the time. Then we’re on to some crowd-pleasing Eruption-like passages and before you know it, nine minutes has shot by.
As observed by Van Halen fansite VHND, this footage has never been shared before, but appears to have lacked accompanying audio – and has therefore been carefully sync’d with the pre-existing bootleg fan audio of the set.
The source of the footage remains unclear, but given the access afforded the camera operator, it must have been approved by the band at the time.
We do know, according to Michael Anthony and others, that there are vast archives of unreleased Van Halen live footage and audio in their personal collections and in the vaults at 5150. Let’s hope more of it sees the light of day…