Van Halen singer David Lee Roth recently kicked off his Las Vegas residency, and he was just viciously mocked by Sammy Hagar for his debut shows. A fan named Brian Burke wrote a review of the show in the comments section on Alternative Nation on the article, where he offered both compliments and criticism for Van Halen’s legendary original frontman, and also revealed what a couple of hecklers shouted at Roth on his first tour without Eddie Van Halen in years. Burke wrote in his review:
First for context. I was at the first DLR show in Vegas, I was in town for the CES convention. When I was in high school, I had 3 bands: AC/DC, Van Halen and Sammy Hagar.
I grew up in Dallas. Sammy had a huge following in our region. I listened to Sammy before Standing Hampton. I had the ‘Texas is best to hell with the rest’ shirt from the VOA tour. I was one of the 25,000 people at the Texxas Jam that walked out after Sammy played and before STYX did their Kilroy Was Here show in protest that he did not headline after playing in the opening line-up for many years. I’m a Sammy guy. I was out on Van Hagar. I wanted Van Halen and Sammy albums. The Van Hagar stuff was not for me. Too commercial. Glad they all got rich though.
Sammy needs to stay in his lane. He has the Circle, Chickenfoot, booze and the TV stuff. Let Dave be Dave. I’m tired of him being such a hater. It comes off as pity jealousy. Pure and simple. Even Sammy went through his ‘hard rock Jimmy Buffet’ stage (Waboritas? Really?) before he found his groove. If Sammy says he does not have to take a hard look at his setlist to make sure he can hit all the notes in Red/Trans AM or Plain Jane I would have a hard time believing it.
I think anyone that expected the ‘David Lee Roth Show’ to compare to the Van Halen show they saw for 1984, Diver Down or even the reunion needs to get realistic. That is just silly. Why are people acting surprised that Dave at 65 does not sound like Dave at 25? Singing is a physical activity, and like all physical activities it will diminish over time. Brady can’t hit the same passes. Jordan can’t hit the same dunks. Tiger can’t hit the same shots. Dave can’t hit the same notes.
Dave left the big leagues. This is not a super group. Let him play a few exhibitions and go see it if you want. This was not a ‘kick ass rock show’ and never could have been. It is nostalgic. A chance to see the greatest front man in rock-n-roll history do his thing, way past his prime, one more time. It is the rock and roll equivalent to a baseball old timers’ game. Treat it as such and enjoy it. Stop bitching that no one threw a 100 MPH fastball.
I have no issue with him forgetting the words to California Girls. Big deal. It was funny. Classic Dave. It’s not like it was Running with the Devil or Panama. It was a Beach Boys cover. Get over it.
I think the biggest issue with the DLR show is that DLR has BAD, BAD advisors. He is likely surrounded by hangers-on and yes men that are just feeding his ego and sucking on the DLR teat. Or he is not listening to his advisors.
You knew this was heading in a bad direction from the first news release. Why are you hiding the names of band members? If you are hiding the fact the guitar player is from a tribute band, that should be a tip off that you are taking this thing in the wrong direction. The news release said something about a ‘two guitar sound as good as Van Halen.’ Stop.
My advice to Dave: Do a DLR solo show. Nobody wants to see you do karaoke in front of, literally, a Van Halen tribute band. Do your thing. Not Van Halen thing. The first show was super Van Halen heavy. You can’t be Van Halen without anyone named Van Halen.
Limit any Van Halen originals to 2 or 3. Leave them wanting more. Find two songs you can hit every note for. I do not care if they are hits or deep cuts. Deep cuts are better, as they have not been played live in years. I’d love to hear Dave sing Little Guitars or Push Comes to Shove perfectly, instead of struggling through Atomic Punk or Jamie’s Crying. Stick to the covers that Van Halen did to add the Van Halen flavor to the show.
Van Halen fans love the ‘novelty’ songs too. Play that up. Sing Ice Cream Man like you did on the reunion tour. That is a signature DLR Van Halen song. Get the band off stage, play acoustic guitar and take center stage. Ice Cream Man leading into Damn Good. Play Stay Frosty. Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now). Even Happy Trails as an ender. That’s Life from Eat ‘’Em and Smile.
No Yankee Rose? It’s your #2 solo song on Spotify. WTF? Goin’ Crazy. She’s My Machine is a good song. LiL Ain’t Enough. That’s Life. Do a solo show. The essence of DLR is not the high notes. It is the on stage antics. The toe touches. And the in song banter. The antics are out at 65.
But he missed the chance on the in-song banter that Van Halen fans love and sing along to (reach down/in between my legs/and easy the seat back, I like the way the line moves up the back of your stocking, man/ no, no, don’t take ‘em off/don’t take ‘em off, one break, coming uuuuuup). He skipped all that stuff.
He seemed so focused on singing songs out of his range that he skipped all of that kind of stuff that made him so cool.
He talked way too much. The stories were, in some cases, uncomfortable. He was trying very hard to appear in touch with multiple races. Stories about watching Superfly in a theater with an all-African American audience. And how to walk like a Latino that just got released from jail. They came off poorly. Had nothing to do with the songs. He retold the ‘dog eyebrows’ story he used in all his pre-tour interviews. I heard a ‘Shut up and sing’ shouted from the audience. I also heard a ‘Where’s Sammy’ called out. Can’t confirm or deny if it was Sammy or not….. just kidding.
Hire professional writers. Tighten up the dialogue. Make it interesting. And tight. You are not that clever. Give us some new material. Classic songs and make them a DLR cover like Just a Gigolo. Nobody Knows You When Your Down would be perfect. You talk about Superfly. Sing it. You could even record it or put it out a live as a new EP. Again, novelty is your strong suit. If you want to show off that you are in tune with Latinos, try singing La Bamba (DLR’s Spanish is spot own). I Want to Be Like You from the Jungle Book would be clever. Mannish Boy. Born Under Bad Sign. I’m a King Bee. Boom Boom.
This is too easy.
How about this set-list?
1. Dance the Night away (Van Halen)
2. Oh, Pretty Woman (cover)
3. Girl You Really Got Me Now (Cover)
4. (something new, novelty – Superfly or Pusherman, goes with the SuperFly story)
5. Just A Gigolo/Ain’t Got Nobody (cover)
6. Tobacco road (cover)
7. My Machine
8. Goin’ Crazy
9. California Girls (Cover)
10. (something new, novelty – La Bamba, goes with his jail walk story)
11. When Push comes to Shove (Van Halen)
12. Big Bad Bill (cover)
13. Yankee Rose
14. That’s Life (cover)
15. Just Like Paradise
16. Ice Cream Man (acoustic)
17. Damn Good
18. Jump (Van Halen)
19. Happy Trails (a cappella)
You get Van Halen.
You get Van Halen covers.
You get DLR solo.
You get DLR covers.
8 Van Halen(ish) songs. 9 solo songs. And some new stuff. That said, I enjoyed the show. I’d go see him again. It was fun. The DLR show did come off as a bit of a Vegas lounge act. But that kind of act suits Dave’s style pretty well.
David Lee Roth is a caricature of his former self…but that should not take away from the fact that, at one time, he was his former self.