Van Halen stands the ‘test of time’
Band proves that tried and true can still please crowds
By Michael Horowitz
Daily Bruin Senior Staff
Pity the Van Halen fan who threw something onstage Wednesday
night and didn’t get to see Sammy Hagar wear it for at least a song
Hagar, the consummate crowd-pleaser, has made a reputation for
himself as a Van Halen clothes-horse, by trying on anything you can
get to him.
On Wednesday night’s sold-out gig at the Forum, the energetic
crowd got him to wear four T-shirts (one on his head), two banners,
two bras, a pair of shades and a pair of panties. It’s hilarious
how he stops what he’s doing to accommodate.
The band however, has done anything but assimilate to the music
of the times. Members of Van Halen have built a huge fan base and
sold millions of records by sticking to the same format, the same
sound. Due to the ebb-and-flow of rock trends, their new album
Balance was released in a lull, but it’s not hard to imagine them
getting bigger again when the time is right.
And if they do get huge again, it won’t be due to their lyrics.
Van Halen demonstrated Wednesday night the prime virtue of great
musicianship is it can make you sing along to ridiculous words.
"Only time will tell if we stand the test of time."
Three simple song themes have withstood the test of time for the
band; everything Van Halen played on Wednesday fell into one or
more conceptual categories.
The group’s first tried-and-true theme is "It’ll be all right in
the end." The foremost example is "Dreams" but others, like "Right
Here, Right Now," and even Hagar’s "Where Eagles Fly" profess their
patented sentimental optimism.
Second, there’s the philosophy of "We’re just relaxin’,"
supporting such tunes as "Summer Nights," "Cabo Wabo," and the more
And who could forget the theme "I want her so bad," made popular
by "When It’s love," "Love Walks In," "Poundcake," "You Really Got
Me," and "Hot for Teacher."
Sometimes songs contain multiple themes, usually "I want her so
bad," plus one other twist. The one song on Wednesday’s playlist
that defied this categorization was one of the oldest, "Ain’t
Talking ’bout Love," penned during the Roth administration, when
Van Halen had some fraction of an edge.
Their last tour is yet another demonstration of this band’s
edgelessness with Hagar, but that’s just the way everyone likes it.
From albums of old to Balance’s best, Van Halen captivated the
audience for a comprehensive and satisfying concert. If the band
can keep delivering the goods like it did on Wednesday, it’ll be
around for a long time to come.
Opener Collective Soul lacks the promise of early, middle or
late Van Halen, but the band does have an arena rock fave in
"Shine" and its new album isn’t as bad as its first effort. Fans at
the Forum went for some of the new material, which may be
Collective Soul’s ticket out of alt rock obscurity. If Candlebox
has shown us anything it’s that there’s still a white trash
consumer need out there; Collective Soul could hit pay dirt