Here’s all I have to say about Van Halen: If you’re a fan, don’t go to the legendary hard-rock band’s show this Saturday at the American Airlines Center. If you are fortunate enough to have seen them perform live back in their pre-1984 heyday, then, please – for the love of God! – don’t go.
There’s no way in hell the spectacle that will happen in Big D could ever meet (to say nothing of surpass) your expectations and/or memories, and the last thing I wanna see are grown men (and some women) spilling tears on their vintage VH concert t-shirts. No, seriously, if all of us VH fans could go back in time and see the band, I’d be first in line. Though Rolling Stone, with its inane list of top guitarists, proclaims otherwise, Eddie Van Halen is the only player since Jimi Hendrix to revolutionize the way the instrument can be played.
Basically, if not for Eddie, most ax-men, from hard rock to pop and hardcore, would still be playing nothing but barre chords and soloing from the pentatonic scale. (I also would argue that Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello is the only mainstream guitarist who’s done anything even remotely revolutionary since Eddie. Morello’s is a totally different, nontraditional style but novel nonetheless.) Plus, VH wrote some killer songs, about one for every three or four clunkers, which is an average that most other loud bands – hard rock, hair-metal, or otherwise – can only dream of.
“Unchained,” “On Fire,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” – you’ve never heard radio-friendly pop-songs as loud or as killer (with all due respect to Deep Purple, KISS, and The Nuge). The situation for us fans is lose-lose-lose. To wit: A.) The tour has been hyped to the point of surreality. We’ve been told so ceaselessly how great/awful the rehearsals have been and how great/awful the chemistry is/isn’t, down to the tiniest detail, that we concertgoers will now be forced to analyze, even if unconsciously, the Saturday performance – to support, abnegate, or in some other way measure our own visceral reactions. In other words, we won’t be able to just sit back and enjoy the ride, come what may. (Or maybe that’s just me.) B.) The emotional and financial cost of buying tickets ($49.50-149.50 per person), driving all the way to Dallas, getting stuck in traffic, waiting in line to get in, waiting in line to get out, getting stuck in traffic again, and coming back feeling rather indifferent is just not worth the hassle. And C.) the chubby bass player won’t be there to provide his sweet backing vocal harmonies. In his stead will be Eddie’s son, Wolfgang. As is often said of hearts on the verge of a-cheatin’, the fantasy is always better than the reality.
… Realistic music lovers who skip VH and Big D can get their music fix earlier in the week by hitting the White Elephant Saloon (106 E. Exchange Ave., 817-624-9712), where local Texas Music singer-songwriter Kurt South will be celebrating the release of his new CD tomorrow (Thursday). Since most of you’ve probably never heard South’s superb tuneage, you’re liable to leave pleasantly surprised.
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