JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

September 23, 2015
Gexa Energy Pavilion
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Mike DiQuinzio
Photos by Ron Lewis

Van Halen

Van Halen Lights Up The Texas Sky

When Van Halen stopped at the Gexa Energy Pavilion on this beautiful Wednesday night in Dallas, TX, they let the music do the talking. Their stage was basic, their light show minimal, and they took the stage unexpectedly before the house lights even went down. Their set, however, was packed with surprises that kept the die-hards on the edge of their seats for the entire night. Put another way, this was not a show for the casual fan.

With the State Fair of Texas illuminating the sold-out crowd, the appropriately-titled "Light Up the Sky" kicked off the two-hour set and was the first of the night's many deep cuts. It was a curious choice to open the show for sure, as many in the crowd seemed lost right out of the gate. Fortunately for them, "Runnin' With the Devil" was next, uniting the entire crowd with its classic chorus before the band dove back into deep territory with "Romeo Delight."

Diamond David Lee Roth was the consummate showman, engaging the crowd and making great use of the entire stage as he punctuated his bands' classics with spin kicks and improvisation. Eddie Van Halen was on-point at all times, taking center-stage for every solo and providing the background music for some of Dave's more long-winded dialogue. Eddie's solo spot was also as incredible as ever. I don't care how many times I see him perform "Eruption," it'll never get old to me.

Again, this was not a show for the casual fan. For every hit, there was a deep cut. "Everybody Wants Some" was followed by "Drop Dead Legs," "Beautiful Girls" was followed by "Women in Love," "In A Simple Rhyme" followed "Hot for Teacher." It was the first time I could remember a band of this magnitude keeping the fans on their toes to this extent the entire night, as if Van Halen was demanding you forgo your beer run in exchange for "Dirty Movies."

Although Van Halen gave every ounce of energy they had, the energy level in the room seemed to dip at times. The problem was that it wasn't reciprocated because all the amateur filmmakers in the crowd were too busy recording the show on their phones to be in the moment. Others realized how few songs they actually knew and pulled up the setlist from prior shows, while still others, unable to get a clear video of the band, turned their phones to the video screens on either side of the stage and recorded those, which completely blew my mind. Here is one of the most legendary bands ever, with a guitarist who revolutionized the way people approach the instrument forever standing directly in front of us, and these idiots want to watch it thru a 3-inch screen. These people really need to stay home.

These idiots aside, Van Halen delivered. Having grown up in the MTV-era, certain songs take me back to my parents' living room, where I had my father's cassette recorder set up next to the TV speaker ready to hit "record" and "play" simultaneously whenever a video I liked came on. "Panama" and "Hot for Teacher" are those songs for me, and there's something to be said for a 40-year old man excitedly pumping his fists with tears streaming down his face as he's transported back 30 years by his memories alone. This man was me, and Van Halen took me there.

...and I didn't even need a smartphone.

Light Up the Sky
Runnin' With the Devil
Romeo Delight
Everybody Wants Some!!
Drop Dead Legs
Feel Your Love Tonight
Somebody Get Me a Doctor
She's the Woman
I'll Wait
Drum Solo
Little Guitars
Dance the Night Away
Beautiful Girls
Women in Love
Hot for Teacher
In a Simple Rhyme
"Dirty Movies"
Ice Cream Man
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
Guitar Solo
You Really Got Me