Friday, May 25, 2012

Van Halen III

Van Halen forgetting words to Girls Gone Bad March 2012 then yells at the lighting team

  I needed 24 hours to really immerse in the Van Halen experience.  From a guitarists' point-of-view (POV) [no, Dave, don't click it] I have a unique perspective.  I've seen guys air-guitaring it to Van Halen before, usually to the drum beats and not the guitar work, sadly, so then there's that perspective; also, most people aren't rock guitarists, so there's another angle altogether.

  So looking back and letting it soak in, I've come to some conclusions.  Firstly, Eddie's tone is a bit off.

Denver, May, 2012

 Boston, March, 2012

  To me, it's pretty apparent there's more chemistry earlier on.  Somehow the tone from the venue at Denver is not as good as Boston (but then there's the recording equipment, the venue's amphitheater etc.)  Dave is more animated as well, and Eddie is playing tightly.

  Now let's get in the Time Machine (I have 3 of them, just in case) and hear Unchained live again.  Notice the energy and Eddie's tone.  It's "brighter" as they say.  More treble and clearer.  As you know, I had been to the Denver show and it was muddy and thick and hard to distinguish.  By my ears, the Denver show's recording example above was just about exactly what I heard.  Pretty spot-on recording-wise:  Muddy.  I'm not sure if Eddie changes-out strings every show (I probably would, or every 2 maybe) but it sounds like they're greasy.  I can get a real muddy, dirty tone letting the strings rot on the guitar for several months.  Sometimes that's preferred, as in death-metal bands, but with Van Halen's (band) repertoire, particularly the older material, it's the treble-sharp sound which Eddie's distinguished himself with.  I'm not saying it's bad, it's just different.  Now, what was not so great was his slop.  He'd do harmonics that most guitarists know about.  One example is my song Limbo I covered by Rush here:  (Click this link for fast-forwarded song)  It's performed by lightly touching the strings while plucking.  Makes a sort of high-pitched wind-chime sound.  If you miss the exact location, it'll make a THUNK sound.  Eddie missed these a LOT.  He then looked confused and annoyed, almost if he couldn't believe he made those mistakes.  He simply was just off.  Not sure if they were all inebriated or high before the show, I'd be curious to find out.  To his credit, Eddie made up for it with some other chops that were jaw-dropping.

  The band as a whole sounded like a garage cover-band trying to play Van Halen.  Very good work but a little polishing required.  For veteran musicians, I was a bit surprised.  David "Diamond" Lee Roth's ego was larger-than-life which is sad but delightful at the same time and Eddie seemed weary of it like just wanted the last few shows to be finished.
  Being able to see Van Halen was a life-affecting experience.  Very good but also I was a bit surprised because I could see the cracks in the whole. It's not glued well and it shows.  I was tempted to hold up a Valerie Bertinelli on Jenny Craig poster to distract Eddie but Dave was distracting him enough, screaming into his ear while he was trying to play bits (see above first video).  Robert Plant he is not.  Wolfgang I still attest did a fine enough job and Alex on drums was probably the best member there.  Thankfully, Dave couldn't get to him too closely due to a drum cage (why a drum cage?  turn up the amps!)  My ears stopped ringing a half-hour after the show.  TURN IT UP!

   In the 1980s, Van Halen was a freakin' HUGE deal.  HUGE!!!  I hate to say the mighty have fallen.  No, I don't think so, but they need to reconsider their act.  Setlist was very good but a few Van Halen II and Van Halen III songs, maybe one each?  Why not?  Bruce Dickinson does other singer of Iron Maiden songs occasionally. 
  Very glad I went.  I hope they can get their act together and make a more interesting album than A Different Kind of Truth which lacks in solo flash, though I must add the guitar phrasing of their new album is very interesting, we miss Eddie going nuts.


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