Errols Weekly Music Update.

September 27, 2016

Kansas- An Old Flame Rekindled…Who Says You Can’t Go Back Home?

The Prelude Implicit (Special Edition)

Maybe Paul Stanley has it right by saying that the entity of KISS will “carry on wayward” with a new “son” taking their places when they are no longer able to front the “hottest band in the world.” He has said many times he wants what he and the other three original members created a long time ago with their love, blood, sweat & tears to live on in infamy with “replacements” who also must be engulfed in the passion of what has been constructed while breathing life into the next generation of the band so that the established fan base will continue to add to its members while treasuring the tradition of that KISS sound. Instead of being upset on who is not in the lineup maybe we should all focus our attention on how this band continues to move forward while maintaining the hunger of its craft. And KISS is not the only band that continues on with new members (but seem to catch the most grief) there are plenty of others who continue on the tradition of their sound- Allman Brothers and Metallica- to name a few. And then there is the band called Kansas.


Kansas to the general public has and most likely will always be recognized by their two greatest hits–“Carry On” and “Dust in the Wind’—and those songs will always remain as legendary and revered as they are now. But for the Kansas brethren, time changes with brilliant musicianship along with powerful vocals, classic melodies are part of the reason this band will always be considered as one of the leaders of what is often referred to as the progressive genre.  Personally I am not concerned with “labels,” it always has and will always be about the music for me. And oh my Kansas makes music which takes you on a joyous magical journey which is now in its fifth decade.


Recently the band added Mr. Ronnie Platt as vocalist after the legendary Steve Walsh retired from the band in 2014. Now there is no replacing Mr. Walsh or Kerry Livgren  or Robby Steinhardt or Dave Hope, the “original” recipe of the band which still also includes two original members, Phil Ehart and Rich Williams. No one expects Mr. Platt to live up to the bar that Mr. Walsh set as he has to be considered one of the all-time great vocalists ever. (And by the way Mr. Steinhardt was no slouch on vocals as well and in my opinion doesn’t get the full credit he deserves as a singer, we all know the accolades he receives as musician, specifically his violin play).


Over the past 18 months I have seen Kansas live four times in N.Y. and Connecticut and I will tell you the Mr. Platt puts the needed passion and respect that is expected from all Kansas fans into his performances. This guy has “it” which comes shining through as he looks like he is having the time of his life being on stage with the music of his life- which is Kansas- just like it is for us fans. And now he has created new Kansas music (the Sept. 23 2016 release of “The Prelude Implicit”) which in my opinion ranks up there as one of their best albums without the “original ingredients” and dare I say one of their best efforts ever. This Kansas dish also includes a new ingredient (new to the fan base but not to the current members of the band)- Mr. Zak Rizvi- who in my opinion has contributed greatly to the original flare of what we came to love but also has added a spice which has made this legendary band sound fresh with “current” structures which explode into your headphones and you’re sitting there saying- “this is the best album of 2016 period!!” This album has everything a Kansas fan is looking for—you want a majestic epic, it’s there- see “The Voyage of Eight Eighteen”- or how about a microcosm of everything Kansas -see “Summer.” There are 10 new songs which will leave you pleading for more as you won’t believe how stunningly good this album is.


Now it has to be mentioned that two gentlemen who also love the music of Kansas and have greatly contributed to its success and they are Mr. Billy Greer (joined in the mid 1980’s) and Mr. David Ragsdale (joined in 1991). They both keep the spirit of Kansas alive and keep the blood flowing with their stupendous musicianship- which again is what makes Kansas so great. Their work on ‘Prelude’ is also something to behold- Mr. Ragsdale violin playing will have you drifting off into another world, the same world which Robby took you. Another recent addition, Mr. David Manion will blow you away with his keyboard acumen. And then what I would refer to as the “power” section of the band- Mr. Williams guitar playing along with Mr. Rizvi will knock you off your feet. And what else can be said of Mr. Ehart? His drumming skills are unreal and he has always known when to make that exclamation point or when to sound like a note- how many drummers play a “note?”- Phil does!!


Normally I would go through each song one by one and describe what it means to me but in this review, I will say that every new song on this album is fantastic—I could go on and on about it. One thing to reflect on when you purchase this album- track #9- ‘Crowded Isolation’ could arguably be the “best” song on the album and it is ninth!! Are you kidding me?


I want to thank the current members of Kansas for taking me back home to the new future of this legendary band and rekindling the love I have for their music. I have the best times when I see them live and I for one would not be disappointed if when I see them the next time they performed this album in its entirety—there are no fillers here. I can’t stop listening to it.



February 13, 2013

Concert Review of Little Big Town at Irving Plaza NYC on Feb. 12, 2013

Review of Little Big Town at Irving Plaza NYC on Feb. 12, 2013

Little Big Town Lasso’s New York City

Fresh off their first Grammy win for best country group performance on Sunday night (finally! I have been screaming from the roof top for some time now about this magnificent quartet) and after taping the David Letterman earlier in the day, Little Big Town lassoed the standing room only (elbow meets elbow) crowd at Irving Plaza (picture trying to get on the #4 train at Grand Central station during rush hour) with sweet harmonizing vocals, that this side of town has never heard, along with a powerful display of energy that everyone could tell was real and left the audience gasping for more and I think they will need a bigger rope (and venue) to capture the clamoring fans who absolutely love this hard working band. Somehow Little Big Town seems to fly under the radar (and I can’t figure out why) and I know they wouldn’t say this but I’ll say it for them- they are the best vocal group in country music (and have been for the past 10 years) or any other kind of music genre, I don’t want to limit it to country music. Upon leaving Irving Plaza, I now know that seeing them live is better than listening to their studio recordings and I realize that is hard to believe with their unbelievable voices, but it is true.

After a splendid opening set from newcomer Kacey Musgraves, who according to Karen Fairchild, is set to explode whether she knows it or not, the buzz in the air was similar to a rodeo where both the bull and riders’ adrenaline are riding high. It was dark for at least five minutes after the crew applied its finishing touches to the stage and then one by one the audience can see shadowy figures entering the elevated platform for the herd on the floor. The gate is opened and the rider (audience) and bull (LBT) explode at the same time and they both remain at the elevated adrenaline for the entire 100 minutes of the show.

Karen, Kimberly, Phillip and Jimi are all larger than life from my vantage point and they are accompanied by three additional musicians, who kept the engine roaring throughout. This is the “Tornado” tour and they did lift, spin and toss the audience into a frenzy but there were tender moments where one felt like they were listening to a song all by themselves in their car. I could not believe the energy in the air, it was so infectious that had there been any room to move, line dancing would have started immediately. Irving Plaza turned into one big karaoke bar as everyone was singing along- not as great as LBT-but how could anyone who attends their shows, not sing along? It’s impossible.

Highlights from the show (the whole show was a highlight…but if I had to pick) for me was “Your Side of the Bed” “Sober” “and “Can’t Go Back.” Karen and Jimi did an awesome job of singing a song that doesn’t seem to depict their marriage with “Your Side of the Bed”- it was an unbelievable moment and yet the words to the song do not represent the love that you could sense between them as well as the other members of the band. Little Big Town turns a sad song into an experience that sends shivers down your spine but you end up smiling- I know it doesn’t make sense- but you have to see and feel it for yourself. “Sober” was incredible as Kimberly took the lead and when they all blended together- again it is something that no other vocal band can match. “Can’t Go Back” was an “outer body experience”- I really felt I was all by myself watching them up on the stage singing what could arguably be their best recording ever- it was a feeling that I never wanted to end. Now of course, the two encores- “Tornado” and “Boondocks” brought the house down but for me encores are automatic highlights.

The band did almost every song from “Tornado” (absent “Night Owl”) and sprinkled in hits like “Shut Up Train” “Little White Church” “Bring It on Home” and “A Little More You.” Prior to doing their “Scattered, Smothered and Covered” set- LBT performed a masterful version of “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac. They caught me by surprise with a jaw dropping cover of John Mayer’s “Born & Raised.” The cover set was pure fun with the band putting their spin on songs by Maroon 5, Lady Gaga and Fun.

I want to thank the members of Little Big Town (including the backing band) for a night that I will never forget- this show ranks up in my top ten shows of all time. The 2012 calendar year was a special year for Little Big Town and I hope they ride this wave of recent success to the stardom levels that they deserve. They have put in their blood, sweat & tears for the past 13 years and deserve your attention. Like I have said for the past seven years, this band is the best vocal band in the world and they proved it last night in a little old town called New York City. Cheers!!!

November 30, 2012

Review of “Rebel Soul” by Kid Rock released on Nov. 19, 2012

Review of “Rebel” by Kid Rock released on November 19, 2012

Rebel Soul

Mention the words- “Kid Rock”- and the reaction is swift- in one corner there are those who love him and others will tell you to go sit in a corner – akin to giving a child a “time out.” There is no in-between, right? The Kid has released his ninth album (yes you read it correctly, his ninth) and if one scours the internet or I-Tunes (is there anyone else wondering why this in’t a big story- try and find it on the internet, there is nothing about it), the reviews are split right down the middle: love and hate. I often wonder if much of the criticism leveled is directed at him personally and not towards the music he makes because in my opinion, if given a chance, his musicianship and vocals are actually credible. Are there “chorus driven” songs? Yes but ask Springsteen fans to not sing along for three hours and see the reaction you’d get. “Rebel Soul” is all about the Kid and in my opinion is his “break-out” album especially after doing his “Rubin”-controlled “Born Free” which tried to change what Kid Rock is all about. You can’t contain what for him comes naturally- rockin’ & rappin’- and making music that moves him. Oh yes- he wants you to join the party but even if no one showed up, he’d have his Twisted Brown Trucker band-mates and jam to the music that embodies his rebel soul.

“Chickens in The Pen” starts off with a slow funky blues driven groove that makes you want to close your eyes and slowly dance around the room- the tune seeps into your bloodstream and before you know it you are belting out- “And do it again now…and do it again now.” (the only thing I could have done without is the autotune towards the end of the song-isn’t that dead yet?). “Let’s Ride” is the arena driven song dedicated to the troops and one has to admit the hook is undeniable and you will be singing along in no time with the thousands of fans at his next show. He adds the “Uh uh uh oh ooh wo” for additional emphasis- sort of like when Van Halen fans raise their fists and sing- “Hey-Hey-Hey” in the classic “Ain’t talking About Love” song.“3 CATT Boogie” is probably my favorite song on the album- it sounds like a party in the background and I can just picture the recording room when they cut this track, it had to be a blast. This song has the infamous “hand-claps” so you know it is just pure fun. “I bought a chevy in Idaho…Hey where I’m headed.. I don’t know.” Listen to the way he pronounces the word situation- “and Wall Street is stirring up the whole sit-chee-A-tion.” I love it!! If this song doesn’t move you, then you don’t have any rebel soul. “Detroit, Michigan”- I know is there any album that he records that doesn’t make a reference to his hometown? But again-“if it’s real, you’ll feel it” and one has to feel this tune. Come on, this has to get you out of your seat and clap your hands- who cares if you are dancing like an older relative that people make fun of when they are a wedding sitting in their seats waiting for the cold coffee and dessert. Did you see him perform this at the half-time at the Detroit Lions home game on Thanksgiving? When George Clinton came out and joined them in the dance fest I fell over and said to my boys- “who is cooler than Kid Rock??!”

The title track has that Bob Seger feel to it and at first it really didn’t hit me but after a few turns it has grown on me to the point where I can picture being in a muscle car with the top down headed to the beach singing- “Rebel Soul.” I like the bridge where the tune takes a turn sort of like a piece of paper being blown up in the air by a strong burst of wind- the kid can sing- listen to this track and you’ll see (hear) what I’m talking about. The beginning guitar riffs for “God Save Rock and Roll” reminds me of the Kiss song- “Let me go, rock and roll.” The Kid is giving Kiss and AC/DC a run for their money in using the words “rock and roll” in his song titles. The tune starts off a bit slow but turns into a foot stomping, hand clapping country laced rock and roll fun time song but watch out for the “out of the blue” F-bomb towards the end. (While you are dancing head over to the kids and hold their ears). The middle of the album takes a slight turn as the songs become less memorable than the first half of the disc. “Happy New Year” is a song that almost made me hit the next button but again after a few turns it will grow on you. “Celebrate” is a good song with a catchy groove but you’ll wonder if you have heard it already. “The Mirror” in my opinion, is the least desirable song on the album-I’m not sure why Kid used the “auto-tune” to mask his vocals- it’s like this should have been used on his first few albums when people didn’t think he could sing. He can and this track takes a step backwards. Track 9- “Mr. Rock and Roll” will get you out of your seat and you’ll be “air-guitaring” and “air-piano-ing” in no time.

The album ends on a strong note with the final four songs- “Cucci Galore” could be my second favorite song on the album- I know what you’re thinking- you like this song? No, I love it- the groove is so silky smooth and it has loud guitars- what’s not to like? I can’t get the chorus out of my head. The female singer on this track is “off the hook”- love it. But again- be aware of the big “F-bomb” and other curses- not for the faint of heart. The country rock comes flying right back with –“Redneck Paradise”- and I’ll just say one thing- I wish I could sing it like Mr. Rock- this is way too cool. You’ll feel like you are in a saloon ordering up a Jim Beam in no time. “Cocaine and Gin” could possibly be the best Kid Rock song he has recorded. I know what you are thinking- how could a song containing the words cocaine and gin be a good tune? If you give it a chance and let it sink in you’ll be amazed- this is a “wrap your arms around the ones you love” and sway back and forth and let the music take you away. Way to go Kid- this is a masterpiece in my opinion. The album ends on a high note with ‘Midnight Ferry’- I don’t want to get too crazy but this could be the second best song that Kid Rock has ever recorded. This is “old school” style with an addictive chorus that will have you clapping your hands with the beat and then clapping for applause when it ends- this song is awesome!!!

“Rebel Soul” gets back to what Kid Rock is all about- you can’t contain him- you can’t box him in to one genre. I find it amazing that the critics want him to be what they want him to be. He likes all kind of music and pulls in these influences and turns into his own- what’s not to like? I like rock and roll, country, soul, rap and totally get where Kid Rock is coming from and believe me I am staying on this ride wherever it takes me. Put another quarter in the juke box and turn it up!!!

April 4, 2012

Album Review: “Amaryllis” by Shinedown released on March 27, 2012


Expectations always run high for a follow up album after the previous one basically catapulted this band into another stratosphere with its devouring pulsating power filled with raw emotion and highlighted by stunning ballads which basically added a whole new legion of fans to its following. Shinedown’s highly successful “Sound of Madness” caught the attention of many rock fans across the world who still didn’t know who they were even after their first two album releases while also picking up what I would call – the “Z-100” crowd, who basically think that “Second Chance” is their only great song. I don’t mean to polarize the different factions in such an extreme measure but I think you know where I’m coming from. Many fans were clamoring for a follow up and were wondering what was taking so long but I completely understood where they were coming from. They needed to ride the wave of “Madness” to the point they did because every single song on that album was a “hit.” But with success, expectations run high. Now Shinedown did release extra singles to “Madness” so it was not like we didn’t get some new songs from them over the last couple of years- “Junkies for Fame” and “Diamond Eyes” quickly come to mind but the anticipation for the March 27, 2012 release of “Amaryllis” was even more maddening because this date was given to all the fans at the beginning of the year and we had to wait almost another four months.

So now it’s here and you ask what I think? “Amaryllis” is a very good album- I would say 3.5 stars out of the ceiling of 5 stars. I think Shinedown (and most likely their label) realized that they picked up many more fans and set out to make this album to make sure that they maintained the interest of “both factions” by continuing with the same ingredients that went into the recipe for “Sound of Maddness.” In my opinion, it is missing that raw energy that was served up so well in “Madness” and this production is much more “polished” with many songs headed straight to “Z-100.” But there are songs that will grab you by the throat and not let go (see “Enemies” or “Nowhere Kids”) to make sure that the rock fan gets his/her fix while tunes like “Miracle” and the title track will ultimately draw in more of the general public. (This should make the record company happy because more of the general public means more profits for everyone). Ultimately for their next album, they will have to veer off down a new path so as to not become too predictable because settling into a crowded space with “today’s rock bands” that have that similar genre nailed down instead of staying ahead of the pack, would be a shame because I think this band has the talent to blaze its own trail. I feel now that are at a cross-road- I understand riding the “Madness” formula but just like when Soundgarden made their blockbuster- “Superunknown”- the follow up-“Down on The Upside” was too much like the former and ultimately led to their demise. I am not saying this is happening or will happen but you all know that I sit in the camp of having less of their songs headed to “Z-100.”

The album starts off in a blaze with the highly aggressive- “Adrenaline”- and right off the bat it is off to the races as this song is an instant wake up call as all the juices in your body are in motion trying to keep up with the pace of the guitars and drums. Brent Smith is the best rock singer out there today-period end of story- and he takes the bull by the horns in the very first song to let everyone out there know that he is taking no prisoners. Who has more passion than Brent? Again- he makes you feel part of every song. This track hits you over the head and my only request would be that they give the lead guitarist more time for a solo. “Bully” is going to be one of their classic’s-yes it has grown on me to the point that when I hear the opening notes, it already seems like it has been out for years. Not only does it serve an area that needs so much attention, the music behind it is stellar. The best part of the song comes at the 2:50 mark when Brent takes his vocals to another level and professes that –“it’s 8:00 a.m…the hell I’m in…your voice is strong…now right the wrrroooonnngggg!!!!.” I have never understood the mindset of a bully and hopefully this song will help be part of the awareness (and ultimately a stop to this cruel treatment of human beings) that is sorely needed. I love the children’s choir in the background- perfect touch. The title track is a mesmerizing song that puts me in a park lying in the grass as I watch the birds fly freely in the beautiful blue sky backdrop. This band has a way of making some of the most “chaotic” songs and then transition into a tranquil setting where you look around and say “what just happened?” Now for the die-hard rock fan it’s probably frowned upon but I love it. I know it’s the formula but I am drinking the cool aid right now and for the first three tracks I am thinking they have another “Madness” on their hands.

Track # 4- “Unity”- is destined for stardom and I can picture this becoming a staple of their upcoming live shows as there will be many hands up in the air swaying back and forth as there is a clear message from Brent and the boys about loving each other as they want all of us to live in harmony. And who doesn’t want that? I have to say that I do like the song but it just may be too much for my sweet tooth to take-sort of like when I was a kid and there was this candy where there was a stick like that was used to sweep up this grinded sweetness that was so sour when I put it in my mouth it made my eyes tear but for some reason I kept eating it. Do you know what I mean? I think the band realized that it was getting too sweet and track #5 goes back to the anger just to keep the original fan of this band from running out the door with the powerful –“Enemies.” The beginning of the song sounds a lot like something that Nickelback would do and the pace is heavy as the head-banging is back in full force. I love the chorus-“who do you think you are?…tearing us all apart…where did you think you could go…cause every one already knows it’s 20 to 1.” The drumming is excellent is this song and at one part it sounds like he is playing on top of garbage cans (now you can stop criticizing Lars for “St. Anger.”). “I’m Not Alright” takes it back down again and could be the best track on the entire album. It starts off with a feel like a marching band that takes the lead at a parade, it flows nicely mixing in what sounds like electric bagpipes- if there was such a thing- with a sing out loud chorus- “I like to stare at the sun and think about what I’ve done…I lie awake in my great escape…I like crossing the lines…maybe it’s me, I’m just crazy.” I think we have all said that at some point(s) in our life. The lyrics on this entire album run deep and again that points to the passion that Mr. Smith embodies- he makes you feel every word.

“Nowhere Kids” kick it back into fifth gear as that familiar sound like “Devour” rumbles into your headset with sheer power but parents beware- the “F” bomb is loud and clear on this track. (Not sure why the parental warning was not stickered on to this CD). This will get the “mosh-pit” spinning in circles looking for bodies to hit- for some reason I can picturea 21st century “Peanuts gang” (who dance with their necks and nose pointed to the ground) bouncing their chests into each other while Snoopy shoots down the Red Baron with renewed vigor. This will be a fun song to hear at their live shows, the crowd is going to go wild. Then at the drop of a dime, the album turns back to the “feel-good-arm-waving-swaying from side to side” as “Miracle” is destined for stardom, a la “Second Chance” and will be on Z-100 in no time. I kind of think the song sounds a lot like “I Own You” from “Madness” albeit with a different chorus but the verses are a slowed down version of this tune, at least in my opinion. It is a little too “commercial” for me but again if the formula works. “I Will Follow You” is the most unique song on the album and actually has an “R&B” feel to it- I almost feel like Brent should have just sung along with just the piano. This song tells me that they have the ability to change up the formula in the future although this production is “majestic” and maybe just a bit too big. But there is no denying that the song is good and Brent shines brightly with his unbelievable vocal prowess. In my opinion, the next two songs near the end of the album doesn’t really end on a high note as they sort of feel like- dare I say- “fillers?” “For My Sake” is a good song but being honest it doesn’t stand out, sort of blends in with the album and could be one that I might skip over. “My Name [Wearing Me Out]” is another good song but again it doesn’t make me stand up and pay attention. You know I love this band but I have to be honest, it doesn’t take away from their talent. The album ends on a high note with the stunning “Through The Ghost” which pulled me back in and it felt like a breath of fresh air. When Shinedown takes it down, there aren’t too many other bands out there that can compete with them and with no offense to the members of the band but it has to do with Brent Smith’s vocals. He will put you in a trance and make you put your hands over your heart as you lip sync to his every words as your face will squint with the passion that is injected by Mr. Smith. This is the perfect way to end the album.

“Amaryllis” is a very good album which many will say is their best effort to date and others will wonder what road Shinedown will take after this work because in my opinion, they are at a cross-road in their career where “commercialism” may take over and alienate their original fan base. For every rock band it is a double edge sword- you want more fans and sometimes that means grabbing more of the “general” public and ultimately more publicity but on the other hand sometimes a band loses sight of what brought in their original fans and this could lead to many leaving the flock. This album has some great songs that makes it a “buy” in my book but I will put a buyer beware to it- there are also some highly polished commercialized songs that pulls them back to the middle of the pack, instead of leading the charge. I do feel they are in this for the long haul and right now they are coasting nicely from the success of “Madness” but we all know that going to the well one too many times could temper things, no?

March 2, 2012

Concert Review – Van Halen at Madison Square Garden Thurs. Mar. 1, 2012

Concert Review – Van Halen at Madison Square Garden on Thurs. Mar. 1, 2012

“The Way Rock and Roll Is Supposed to Be”

Van Halen conquered Madison Square Garden for the second time this week as they brought down the house last night with a combination of tight explosive musicianship from the Van Halen trio and if there is a better showman than David Lee Roth, someone needs to let me in on that ultimately kept secret. Mixing in some of their new songs from their solid album-“A Different Kind of Truth”- along with what Diamond Dave stated-“we’re pulling out the classics tonight” the Garden faithful were treated to a journey down memory lane with some deep cuts but were also reminded that this version of Van Halen still has a lot left in the tank as some of the new songs seem to take the audience by surprise and even though many did not know the words to the new offerings, there was no denying that classic Van Halen sound that we all have become accustomed to and love. As my son’s and I (yes another one of my dreams was fulfilled last night) were leaving the Mecca last night there were many “wow’s” from the audience members as we trickled down the staircase that never seemed to end while someone else was overheard stating that “they were even better than I expected.” That brought a huge smile to my face as I looked over to my boys and they were just as blown away as the rest of the fans despite my “pre-game” hype which started in early January after purchasing the tickets. I could have done damage by building up the excitement on a daily basis by basically counting down the days, hours and minutes (like I do in our household for Christmas) until the gates of our destiny opened but despite my zaniness, my younger son asked as soon as the show was over- “Can we go see them again?” Van Halen showed everyone how rock and roll is supposed to be and from the looks on many of the young faces around (no doubt offspring from the original Van Halen fans) who experienced both a drum solo and guitar solo probably for the first time in their concert going experience picked up a whole new fan base who can now say they have seen the best live band in the history of hard rock.

For anyone who knows me and my love of Van Halen, my vote would have been to make this week a National holiday season to celebrate their coming to their “second” home at the Mecca known as Madison Square Garden (found out earlier this year that Dave grew up near Indianapolis and of course the Van Halen’s are from California). Like I mentioned my two son’s were going-they had no choice- and I informed my wife that even though it was a school night-they were going, so basically after waiting patiently (yeah right) for them to complete their homework right after school we embarked on our journey to New York. Of course I had two self made CD’s that contained 42 Van Halen songs from each of their seven albums blasting for most of the car ride into the city. We did our pre-game ritual of attending the best pizza place in New York-“Freddie’s and Peppers”- and then jumped on the #2 train to enter the land of Oz. Of course you know we were there at 6:30 p.m. despite the fact that Kool & Gang were set to be the openers at 7:30 p.m. Yes that’s right- Kool & The Gang and you know what? They were fantastic and even though the genre’s are different I think the one thing that struck me which they share with Van Halen is their love of music and they performed like they were playing in their garage and it didn’t matter to them if it were 10 people watching or 10,000 in the audience, the music is in them and it shined brightly. Their mixture of R&B, funk, pop and pure dance music made for a most entertaining set and despite initial reservations from my kids, they were pleasantly surprised on how good these guys were. And everyone in the world knows at least one Kool & The Gang song, right? C’mon- “Ladies Night” or “Celebration?” The band worked it, there was a surprising guitar solo, they had the horn sections, two drummers, keyboardist and a bass guitarist, along with singing and dancing that just put a smile on your face.

As Kool & Gang exited and asked the crowd if they were ready for Van Halen and David Lee Roth, I could feel my skin crawling. It was getting closer and I couldn’t take it any more, I wanted Van Halen. The 35-45 minute break to set up the stage seemed like an eternity to me. I watched as the roadies set up the stage, they applied and seemingly nailed in an approximate 17 foot piece of hardwood floor about 7 feet wide like someone forcing in a piece of a puzzle to make it fit. The focus of the crew was this piece of wood as the middle of the stage up a few feet held Alex Van Halen’s massive drum set with black and white speaker stacked two and half high were lined up about 5 sets on both sides of his drums. Set behind these speakers were more powerful and there was this huge black screen behind the stage that (as Dave mentioned) was like those old “drive-in” places that used to show movies outdoors. As it started to get closer to 9:00 p.m. I noticed one of the roadies applying what looked like baby powder sprinkling it very carefully over this plywood floor. Then the lights went out except towards the front of the stage and I thought it’s going to happen now but maybe done purposely we waited with bated breath as the annoying song (it could have been good but I wanted it done) continued to play the instrumental composition. I grabbed my younger son’s head with my hand like I was palming a basketball (which I can not do) and squeezed and said I want it!! Then it happened I saw a figure dart across the stage headed up to the drum set and I saw the sun glasses and knew it was Alex. He was getting in the driver’s seat and turned on the switch to start the engine known as Van Halen as the ever popular-“Unchained”- begins. I see Wolf dart across the stage and stands to the right of his uncle up a few steps to get closer as the oil that churns this machine awaits the gas to ignite the engine into overdrive. There they are- Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth take a leisurely stroll up the steps and on to the stage as the huge riffs to “Unchained” are blaring from every orifice of The Garden. Right off the bat all you see are smiles, Eddie is smiling Dave is well just Dave. Is there anyone cooler than Mr. Roth? I look over at my boy’s and they are air-guitaring just like me- “You say… I can not get there from here baby…then I don’t care where I’m going”- the crowd in unison helps out Dave right off the bat (and yes there were times that he needed a little assistance from the audience and yes he also received superb assistance from Wolf and Eddie on background vocals- they sounded great). As the first song came to an end I felt like I was having an outer body experience as I could not believe that I was there with my own son’s watching the same band that I did when I was my oldest son’s age-17. I watched in amazement as Dave walked around on stage looking around the entire Garden while taking in the huge hug from the entire building.

As “Running with the Devil” begins I am waiting to hear Wolf’s bass part which is so deep and pulsating that one could feel their own chest thumping with every strum of his guitar. He has arrived and like I said he must be practicing on his singing because the background vocals were spot on and at one point during the show Dave walked over to him and said “I told you it would be better the second time around.” As “She’s the Woman” begins the audience is rocking out but don’t really recognize the tune-of course my boys and I know it because their new album has been playing since its release in our house, car or wherever a noise can come out and we are rocking out in unison like ZZ Top with a third leg. Eddie is lights out and Alex and Wolf are there every step of the way and as the song comes to a crashing halt I knew right there that this was going to be another night of pure ecstasy- the party was on and there was no letting up. Then they pull out the next to last song on “Diver Down” with the deep cut-“The Full Bug”- I couldn’t believe my ears, I nearly jumped to the top of the Garden roof (we weren’t that far the top so believe me I might have had a shot-no matter we were in the building). Eddie’s guitar was ablazing as Dave blared out-“Ah precious sweetheart…woman all you want is good as it can get” and I felt like I was back in my bedroom as a teenager with this song blasting so all the neighbors could hear it and now I had 16,000 neighbors jamming with me.

Then the song I was waiting for-“Tattoo”- yes that song again. By the end of the song even my youngest son who scoffed at the recording said that seeing it live made it better. Folks, it was so good to see them up there having fun while singing-“Swap meet Sally…Tramp stamp tat…mousewife to momshell in the time it took to get that new tattoo…tattoo…tattoo.” Eddie’s solo was off the charts as he was the entire night, I was so glad that my boys were able to witness one of the greatest guitarists of all time and he was so on. Then it was my oldest son’s opinion to be changed as he was not a big fan of “Everybody Wants Some” but after seeing it live, he said his was impressed with the song- now coming from him, that’s big so again I was happy. Now I remember the days when Dave would go on and on while the rest of the band would basically take an at least 20 minute break and this time around, unlike in 2007, the Diamond man did talk more to the audience but it was a more mature and condensed version of his story telling ability. As the evening progressed I was taken back more than a few times to the early 1980’s as such classics as “Somebody Get Me a Doctor” and the not too often heard “Hear About It Later.”

Without question as with every one of their shows one of the highlights are the solos by both Alex and Eddie. Alex did this amazing skit with a twist of “latin-tinged” almost jazz like solo that displayed another side to his massive talent as being one of the best drummers to have ever walked this planet. What else can be said about Eddie? Some call him a magician and you would not hear any arguments from me, I know nothing about playing guitar but I know it’s something special when ever he is on. So what were the other highlights of the show you ask? Basically from “Hot For Teacher” until the end of the show every song was a “show stopper” with audience participation coming from every section of the Garden whether it was head-banging, air-guitaring or singing along to some of the best songs ever recorded. And I definitely agree with Dave’s statement that the ending of “Hot For Teacher” has to be the best endings to a song in the history of rock music, it’s hard to argue against it. They performed “Women In Love” so unbelievably good that I thought the original recording was on, so please no more about the back-ground vocals, OK? Then I think I came out of my skin as the beginning riffs to “Outta Love Again” took off- can you believe that? “Outta Love?” – Are you kidding me? I was so high above the clouds while Wolf was playing that classic bass line that I never wanted the moment to end and even my oldest son took notice as he keenly pointed out that even Eddie’s solo was played with such precision, it was jaw-dropping. There was a break in the action as the Van Halen’s left the stage and Dave came out with a acoustic guitar as the backdrop screen depicted a dog first rounding up some sheep and then some cattle as he informed the audience that the dog was his and he loved the outdoors. As I looked to my right I could not see my oldest son so I looked down and there he was –almost sitting down- my heart almost stopped as I picked him up from his shirt and stood him up- there will be no sitting down on the job. After the short story on dogs, Dave strummed the familiar chords to “Ice Cream Man” while singing about summertime. We all knew what was coming- the audience could see the Van Halen’s entering the stage-almost like when a basketball coach sends in replacements to the court-as they stood and sat and waited and then there it was the electrifying engine of Van Halen as they ripped through one of their best covers ever. My youngest was mesmerized and couldn’t believe how good they were performing it. By this time, one of my long dreams had been fulfilled as I could see the same expressions on their face that I had some 30 years ago.

“Panama” -always a crowd pleaser did not disappoint as usual as the pitch of the crowd was at an all-time high and you could feel it-I don’t know how to describe it-but you have to feel it. During the song the overhead lights flashed at unbelievable speed which had the effect of feeling like a spaceship was making its landing on the stage as we could barely make out the four figures on stage which for me took the show to another level. There would be no leaving the stage and coming back for encores as the band just stayed on to play their staple-“Ain’t Talking About Love”- which pushed the excitement to a level that can’t be topped by many bands out there today. This is “old school” at its best and I couldn’t wait for my boys to see the entire Garden raise their fists up to the sky and in unison push three times into the air while everyone screaming- “Hey, Hey, Hey!!!” There it was- the bright lights shined upon the audience and I was close to tears, this moment couldn’t be topped. The night ended with the now loved “Jump” as confetti was skyrocketed into the air and the band was completely covered. Dave came up from the back of the stage with this huge flag that is used for car races and as he struggled to wave the checkered flag I could sense a source of accomplishment on his part. There were no words to be spoken, that moment signified to me just how far this band has come. Again just the moment needed to be treasured especially from a Van Halen fan like myself who waited nearly a quarter of a century to see them the first time in 2007 and now in 2012 to see it with my own two son’s has to make it the best night that I have ever seen Van Halen. This is a night I will remember for the rest of my life. Thank you Eddie, Alex, Dave and Wolf, you all made a dream come true and I am looking forward to the next chapter. Hey I have a young nephew that needs to see the dream. Keep rockin’ fellas!!!!

Set List

1. Unchained – (Fair Warning)

2. Running With The Devil – (VH I)

3. She’s The Woman – (A Different Kind of Truth)

4. The Full Bug – (Diver Down)

5. Tattoo – (A Different Kind of Truth)

6. Everybody Wants Some – (Women and Children First)

7. Somebody Get Me a Doctor – (VH II)

8. China Town – (A Different Kind of Truth)

9. Hear About It Later – (Fair Warning)

10. Oh Pretty Woman – (Diver Down)

11. Alex Drum Solo

12. You Really Got Me – (VH I)

13. The Trouble With Never – (A Different Kind of Truth)

14. Dance The Night Away – (VH II)

15. I’ll Wait – (1984)

16. Hot For Teacher – (1984)

17. Women In Love – (VH II)

18. Outta Love Again – (VH II)

19. Beautiful Girls – (VH II)

20. Ice Cream Man – (VH I)

21. Panama – (1984)

22. Eddie’s Guitar Solo

23. Ain’t Talking About Love – (VH I)

24. Jump – (1984)

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