with this record is that we Van Halen fans were so excited at the prospect of
seeing David Lee Roth up on stage once more that we would have forgiven him for
just about anything. Even the fact that his voice (he is now 60 years old)
is not what it used to be or that the 2015 concert had not been preceded by the
recording of new material and we were therefore to be presented with the same music
of two years before. What we wanted was to hear the songs from his early days,
the ones that made them rock legends, no matter how much it hurt the embittered
Sammy Hagar – if the declarations he made are
anything to go by, following the release of the band's new record.
Another change in the line-up has been the bass player, who is now Wolfgang, Eddie Van Halen's son, coming in to replace Michael Anthony, who took off with Hagar to form a new band. He will be sorely missed, but the guitarist's son has learnt his trade well. Of course, the rock-steady Alex can still be found behind the drum kit, making the band complete.
Diamond Dave is a crucial figure in the band because when we think of Van Halen his acrobatic leaps are the first thing that comes to mind - although the ageing singer has long since decided to keep his feet firmly glued to the stage floor. His was the on-stage gallivanting that accompanied the ear-splitting sound of Van Halen's electric guitars. The sound of heavy metal was forever changed the moment that Eddie let real electricity fly from his thrashed-out strings, bringing a whole new meaning to both the terms "heavy" and "metal". This was of course achieved by the first, classic band line-up that the two brothers founded.
Roth, above all else, is a showman strutting his stuff in a heavy metal concert. It is fair to say that he wasn't on form that night in Tokyo. He hardly sang, merely screeching the lyrics out, but it is better not to go into too much detail or we will spoil it for those that opt for the DVD. Regarding the choruses that Van Halen are so famous for, they were quite literally horrendous. The purists among us assure that this is due to the absence of Anthony.
The star of the show was undoubtedly Edward Lodewijk Van Halen, who many feel is among the ten best rock guitarists of all time. A maestro of 'tapping', which is the deft technique of lightly tapping the strings all along the neck with the hand that would normally be using the pick down at the bridge, he is also famous for modifying or 'tuning' his guitars. That night in Tokyo he showed all that both he and his guitar had not lost their edge.
Still rocking on, it is clear that the monster has a lot of life in him yet. It really looked like that was exactly what he was out to prove and that he had the whole thing filmed to show the world that he was as live and loud as ever and that the cancer had done nothing to slow him up. Roth's return was the perfect excuse for him to dig out some of the old favourites and show that he still had the magic in his fingers: there was a lot from their first album (1978), a fair few from Women and Children First (1980) and some great songs from their latest work, after Roth's return, A different kind of truth (2012). There was little time for much else, but in all the noise and excitement, nobody seemed to be missing them all that much.