Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

All Hail Van Halen


What did you think of Van Halen’s Fresno show? Leave a comment with your review. Love it? Just OK? Did they play all the songs you wanted? My take is below. Update: I added more pics and a short video after the break.

A couple songs into Van Halen’s set Thursday night at Save Mart Center, David Lee Roth made his way to one side of the stage, took the microphone stand and wound it up like a batter awaiting a pitch.

He swung the mic stand, paused for a second, then lifted his hand to his forehead as to watch the invisible baseball he just hit sail over some invisible fence. Then he smiled and flamboyantly pranced away.

The message is clear, isn’t it? Van Halen hit a home run in Fresno.

It didn’t really matter that a couple songs later Roth nonchalantly admitted, “I forgot the f***in words.� By that time, Roth’s antics – waving around a flag to start the show, the karate kicks, pulling out a top hat and trying to dance like Michael Jackson – combined with Eddie Van Halen’s shredding guitar work had already easily won over the Fresno crowd.

vanhalen 012.jpg

The guys in the crowd with the long hair and the rock T-shirts were banging their heads and playing air guitar — and so were the white-collar guys with their long-sleeved shirts still buttoned up. It was that kind of night. Van Halen nostalgia ruled.

It was Roth’s first time touring with the band since most of the people in the building were in their 20s. And the first time since some people there (more than you’d think, actually) were born.

So the crowd – somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 deep – spent pretty much the entire night on its feet partying like it was 1984 again.

No one seemed to care much that some of the songs were very sharp and precise (“Panama� and “Running With the Devil,� for instance) while others (“Hot for Teacher� for one) seemed muddled and confused.

It was because the Van Halen before us was a bit of a rag-tag bunch. You had drummer Alex Van Halen who looked a little more war-torn than his 54 years and then you had 16-year-old Wolfgang Van Halen (Eddie’s son) on bass, who looked more like a freshman band nerd than a touring musician.

Then there was Eddie, who was content to wail away on his guitar (and rightly so, dude is awesome) at the cost of overpowering the rest of the band, including ringmaster Roth, who was giddy-upping around the stage, changing hats and jackets like he was trying them on and proving he can still jump.

Really, though, none of that stuff mattered. Van Halen, rag-tag as it might have been, was having a blast. And Fresno was, too.

Eddie and Diamond Dave hugged. Alex beamed at the ovation he got after a drum solo. Wolfgang even took a page from Dave’s book and took a walk on the half-circle catwalk in front of the stage and threw out his pick. He looked a bit awkward doing it, but whatever. It didn’t matter to Fresno.

The Van Halen fans in the Save Mart Center were just content to watch the band trot around the bases one more time.


Below are my very amateur from-my-seat photos and a short video:

Here’s a video of Dave saying “Hi” to Fresno and Ed startin’ to shred.

David Lee Roth: Ruler of Fresno

vanhalen 005.jpg

How much you wanna bet that Eddie Van Halen doesn’t even packs shirts when he goes on tour?

vanhalen 006.jpg

“Hello, Fresno, what do you think of my ‘Queer Eye’ makeover?�

vanhalen 007.jpg

DLR realizes he’s in Hagar Country and knows Sammy can appear at any moment to swipe the mic. So he hides it.

vanhalen 009.jpg

“Thank you, Eddie, thank you so much for taking me back.�

vanhalen 010.jpg

“Why, yes, I do have a red hat and leather bell-bottoms, thanks for noticing. Fabulous aren’t they?�

vanhalen 019.jpg

Diamond Dave is finally bigger than Eddie.

vanhalen 024.jpg

Who’s cooler: Dave or Eddie?

vanhalen 032.jpg


vanhalen 049.jpg

Sorry, Wolfy, Daddy’s shadow looms very, very big.

vanhalen 054.jpg

Parade leader David Lee Roth reporting for duty.

vanhalen 060.jpg

Check out the girl trying to take the mic.

vanhalen 071.jpg

We call this one Demon Lee Roth.

vanhalen 072.jpg

Yawning, Eddie? Is it that easy for you?

vanhalen 088.jpg

Apparently so, Mr. Sit-Down-on-the-Job.

vanhalen 093.jpg

I’m convinced he just stole Mick Jagger’s collection of jackets.

vanhalen 097.jpg

“Thanks, Dad, going on tour with you guys was the best birthday present ever. Are you sure Uncle Michael doesn’t mind?�

vanhalen 098.jpg

Put your hand in the air if you think David Lee Roth is nutzo.

vanhalen 102.jpg

“Yes! Being on tour is so much better than a morning talk show – even if I’m playing with a 16-year-old.�

vanhalen 110.jpg

That’s Captain David Lee Roth to you.

vanhalen 115.jpg

David Lee Roth has the magical power to make arenas rain confetti and change a normal microphone into a 20-foot mega microphone. Hear that, Sammy?

vanhalen 116.jpg

“We’re Van Halen and we totally rule.�

vanhalen 120.jpg

Responses to "All Hail Van Halen"

Cindy says:

I was a bit reluctant to go at first, but I am definately glad I saw Van Halen last night! But the fact that I was not allowed to see them in my younger days was a big reason to go. With running on no sleep and back to work today, who cares, I finally saw Van Halen with Diamond Dave up front!

I feel as though the reunion with Dave, minus Michael Anthony is a bit forced, but I do agree that they look like they are having a good time up there pumping out ballad free music! Opening up with You Really Got Me to the confetti soaked arena of Jump, they never disappointed. It was good to see some of a Fresno crowd up on their feet for the entire show! But, unfortunately, Fresno it’s again not a sell out crowd? The only bummer was dealing with the half dozen or so people who could not stay in their seat for more than 5 minutes at a time without going to get another beer, and being too drunk to find their seat coming back. That was a big distraction for us! When Dave recruits you to join in, you say where do I sign up! Wolfgang was incredible and has learned the pick flicking duty very well and I really liked him getting onto the ramp behind Alex to take the arena’s attention to dive into Running with the Devil! I do miss Michael Anthony, he does belong to be there!

Eddie Van Halen has not lost one bit of his guitar godness! The fact that all of the slamming guitar riffs are coming from just him blew me away. I think they covered the Dave era very well, I would not mind getting a little deeper into the catalog, but no complaints here. Hearing the songs live instead of played to death on radio is justice for them to get together again after all of these years.

outlaw says:

I thought that Van Halen’s sound was a muddled mess. Eddie is a rock god and he proved it last night. Alex was true to form ,as a great rock drummer. As we all know, Dave is a bit of a showoff and he did his job well. I just wish he would have concentrated more on hitting the right notes,as he was a bit flat on some of them. Wolfgang was living out the dream of all 16 year old kids, to be an arena rock star. I think the interaction with he and his dad was awesome. The weakest link in the whole show was the sound guy. It was way too loud and it took me up to a minute at times, to figure out what song they were starting.

Patrick Contreras says:

I had a good time for sure. I loved some of the disorganized energy because you didn’t know what to expect next..well somewhat. Eddie Van Halen…..sweeeeeeeet. He’s the man, I’m gunnin’ for you Eddie hehe! Van Halen = Fun Fun Fun

mojojojo says:

Before the show I was sharing my memory of 30 years ago seeing Van Halen @ Selland Area when, drunk as a skunk, Diamond Dave, at the top of a light tower, admitted to all “I forgot the F***in words, man !!! Some things never change ;-) Hard too tell if Roth + Eddie were a little rusty or if the sound man was off; Didnt matter though as the band put on a great rock n roll show; Wolfgang was good enough but if Eddie + Dave can make up, it would have been nice for Michael Anthony to be taking his rightful place; Ziggy Marley opening was icing on the cake;

rosemary says:

my ears are still ringing from a energenic van halen concert.i’m amazed how packed the savemart center was. what was the name of the first band? they sounded great. i thought the blimp floating around,searching the crowd was cool. i really enjoyed the antics of dave, u go man. i,m 48 and i forget words to songs {and other things too}. oh yeah, and i say …. too. don’t feel bad dave, you rocked. 2 minutes in to the show people stood up, from then on it was rock and rolling. i danced the night away.

Tony says:

After hearing radio ads all the way up to the day of the show, I was worried that Fresno would again fill SMC half way for a huge national headliner. I was happy to see the place mostly full and rocking to boot. The show itself had me smiling through it all. The sound wasn’t so great(sometimes painfully loud, muddy at times, Dave croaking and “talk-singing” here and there), but Eddie’s guitar sound was up front and center and he looked much healthier and into than he did last time through town with Sammy. With my untrained ear, he seemed only to have muffed the intro to Mean Streets and even then…..who cares? Smiles all around on stage and Wolfgang held his own in my opinion, even though afterwards I had a bittersweet feeling when I thought about how over the top and “real” this reunion would have been with Michael Anthony. I’m glad I went and even happier that Fresno showed up and partied with the original party band.

cindy madruga says:

I had a really good time last night at the concert!! my ears are still ringing! Diamond Dave was very energetic and Eddie was a rockstar god with that guitar and wolfie (little cutie) was very good too!! it was very sweet seeing him and his dad play together!! And Alex still rocks with the drums!! i danced the night away!! rock on!!

Borbass says:

Van Halen ruled pretty much! Not as tight of a performance as I was expecting, but definitely a good fun show. Pretty hard to replicate those songs for an arena show. DLR sounded good for the most part and he and EVH were in great physical shape. EVH looked really happy to be there, probably happy to just be alive after all he’s been through. Very fun show and it’s not often that you get to see one of the best living guitar players in Fresno with a band that had so many great songs.

imzippedagain says:

Too bad. EVH is a virtuoso, but one would never know it because the sound board operator was not doing the job. The volume level was over the top – only Robin Trower is louder. Indecipherable white noise resulted. Overall, a huge disappointment. I left before it was over.

Rise says:

The sound was muddy and way too loud. David (I forgot the f***in’ words…)was annoying and nowhere near the top of his game. The Van Halen brothers should bring back Sammy and Michael, get a new sound crew, and take the next tour seriously.

Gimmlett says:

What a great night it was seeing these guys together again.

Took our teen sons with us to experience one of the greatest rock bands of all time. An exceptional family night.DLR’s vocals were a bit rough and forgot some lines a few times but made up for it with his showmanship. EVH shredded most of the show. Alex’s solo was excellent and wolfy did a good job, especially on vocals. I know the show would have been better in a different venue, the SMC has terrible acoustics. I think that the band at times had a hard time hearing each other as well and it showed on several songs, a kind of rushed tempo and muddled sound when it shouldn’t have been. Overall I would rate the bands performance a 9 out of 10. If I was EVH I would take a listen to a recording of the concert and then look for new sound guys. You would think that these pro sound guys would get it together before the show to dial in the best sound for the arena or maybe this type of arena just sounds crappy no matter what they do. Eddie and and crew you deserve much better than what you’re getting there from yur sound guys. just my opinion though

Greg says:

Itwas a fantastic show ..Loved every second of it..But what a arrogant statement made by patrick contreres..

Jim Gardner says:

The show in Sacramento was utterly freaking brilliant too! DAVE’S BACK!


I respect your statement towards me, so I have to respond to you. Not for one second do I take any bit of the “very small” success I’ve had for granted. Everyday is a learning process, I have bad shows, I have good shows. But I work hard at what I do. Eddie Van Halen is one of my guitar heroes, and I’ve looked up to him since I was a kid. I used to dream of getting on stage and shredding like he does. I am in NO way even comparing my talent to his, he’s a legend and a great musician, but I am striving to reach his level…someday in the future. When I said I was “gunning” for Eddie …in a jokingly way, I meant someday I hope to be as good as him..thats all I meant..I hope this does not translate as arrogant. One more question/statement to respond to you. Isn’t it my job as a performer and musician to constantly strive to be better?. Thank you for your time.


Patrick Contreras

greg says:

hello patrick..well first you have to have a great singer/lyricist like dave and great songs to reach the level VAN HALEN may be a fast violin player ..but your songs are not up to snuf..but that`s just the opinion of someone that loves great songs..good luck


I understand where your coming from. If thats what your looking for, no..I don’t write songs. But I can lead you to a group locally that does write great songs. The Super Lucky Catz..they’ve got some great material, in my opinion. You can check them out:

Let me know what you think.

Patrick Contreras

greg says:

uuumm.that`s what i need to have a great singer/lyricist…when you find that guy you`ll be on your way..great songs reach the non-musician..


For the project that is my main focus right now. I do feel that being a lead ..instrumentally, is the whole idea. That’s why I participate in more than one band/ expand myself and work on writing good songs/tunes/lines in different enviroments. I always like to keep challenging myself.

Patrick Contreras

brydog says:

Brought back great memories of early 80′s VH concerts when we paid 12.00 for a kick a” show. New every song they played just too bad much of the crowd didnt.Things change and people get older but one thing will never change; VAN HALEN STILL CAN KICK A” !!!!!

kat says:

This show was loud but it rocked!!!!!I have been wanting to see Eddie play live since i was 14…his performance was up to my expectations and then some…Dave has always been a showman and he didnt disappoint….Alex had some great energy…Wolfie awed me….So young, but so good…I would go see them any chance I got…

Ry says:

We were in a suite and it was an AWESOME night. I was never old enough to see VH with DLRoth and I am so glad he’s back!! Early Van Halen is phenominal and now maybe just maybe there will be some new stuff with the old band back together?? Sammy was great but Dave is just that much better!!!

Tron says:

Greg…Patrick… you sound like two little kids arguing. Did not, did too… Shut the f**k up. This thread ain’t about you.

John says:

Sounds to me like that patrick guy is really into self promotion and who the f cares ?? It`s about Dave and Ed . And they both were Fantasic !! I saw the 2004 show with Sammy and you could tell Van Hagar was on its last leg,Ed wasnt into playing with sammy and mike . This show just absolutly blew me away.You could tell Ed was having the time of his life playing with wolfe who by the way totally held his own and did an amazing job with the vocals,the kids got the genes.Dave really was all that I expected and more.His singing was great and what a showman.Some the best songs Van Halen ever wrote were represented thursday night Dave really wrote some of the best singalong songs.Loved the little breakdown when they started playing some Cream songs Dave voice was right on and the interplay between the two was the real deal..Best concert I have seen.Sorry Sammy and Mike looks like you two won`t be coming back.

Jim says:

Great show…..everyone here has said it over and over, and all is true – Van Halen has always rocked and still does.
I must have been sitting near Mike Oz, as the pics I took look very much from the same angle. I also must have been seated near “Cindy” who said “The only bummer was dealing with the half dozen or so people who could not stay in their seat for more than 5 minutes at a time without going to get another beer, and being too drunk to find their seat coming back”
I too had to deal with that, and I just don’t get it….
1. If you are out to get drunk, go to a bar. 2. If you paid a lot of money for the seat (and this show was not cheap), isn’t it a good idea to at least see some of it? Whatever…
All in all, a great show….could be the last time this group tours with this (almost) original line-up.