Published Mar 19, 2012While there was some doubt about the opening act, funk does make a great appetizer for hard rock, but it probably took a few drinks for skeptic Van Halen fans to comprehend that. A stadium show that lands on St. Patrick's Day weekend means that a good-sized audience got to the ACC early to drink and boogie to funk legends Kool and the Gang, who performed hits like "Get Down on It" and, of course, '80s favourite (and wedding reception staple) "Celebration." The ten-piece band were on point -- perhaps not moving as much as they did on Soul Train back in the day, but they served as a light and energetic opener.
Despite the flawless execution of the pre-Sammy Hagar Van Halen hits, such as "Running with the Devil, "You Really Got Me," "Panama" and "Hot for Teacher," tracks off their latest album A Different Kind of Truth -- the first with Wolfgang Van Halen, guitarist Eddie's son on bass and with David Lee Roth on vocals since 1984 -- fell flat. Perhaps people just weren't that familiar with new songs like "Tattoo," "She's the Woman" and "China Town," all of which were met only with polite applause.
That being said, Roth -- resplendent in faux-leather pants (otherwise how could he do the high kicks?) -- was in top form, his voice and showmanship mystifyingly impressive. Eddie perfectly executed his legendary solos, sounding richer and blusier than on the original recordings, but Roth's touching opener to "Ice Cream Man" stole the show.
Wolfgang served as a perfect addition, as he definitely has inherited the Van Halen talent gene, and while a little on the high and thin side, his vocal contributions on "Tattoo" and his additions to their trademark harmonies, like on "Dance the Night Away," were a dead match to the originals. Closing with "Jump," the onstage camaraderie was relaxed and easy, and it's clear that Diamond Dave has reinvigorated the band. Welcome back.