still got it
Vocalist Gary Cherone
proves his worth, and the
Van Halen brothers show
By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin
SOME thoughts on Van Halen after last night's concert in the Blaisdell Arena:
Sammy Hagar is gone -- get over it! Ol' Cabo Wabo was a tremendous performer, an asset to the band and a great guy to hang out with, but he's gone like David Lee Roth before him. Gary Cherone is a worthy successor. Cherone proved it to Honolulu last night.
The music on Van Halen's current album, "3," has plenty of impact when played at rock concert decibel levels. The band featured those songs last night. The album may well prove more successful in the long run than some of its initial reviews suggested.
Someday, some local musician will have the imagination to take the ukulele to some of the places Edward Van Halen has taken the guitar for the last 20 years. The show wouldn't have been complete without an Edward Van Halen solo performance -- last night it was 11 minutes long. For all the ignorant yakking about "aging" rock musicians, 41-year-old Edward Van Halen is still a show-stopping virtuoso on the six-string.
Never underestimate Alex Van Halen. His seven-minute drum solo in four parts was one of the highlights of the concert.
Was it the economy? The season? The graying of Van Halen's core audience? The promotional campaign? The arena was well short of a sellout even allowing for the 11 blocked-off sections in the upper level. A lot of rock music fans missed a great show.
The two-hour-plus Van Halen concert was a triumph for Cherone. He quickly established himself on stage and won over the crowd. Even from a considerable distance, it was possible to sense him smiling and becoming more at ease.
Cherone's choice of a suit coat with matching flare-leg trousers effectively exorcised any lingering memories of his predecessors and also separated him visually from the band -- Alex in black shirt and shorts, Michael Anthony wearing his usual stage garb of sleeveless T-shirt and jeans, and Edward with bright floral print pants and a pink shirt that he discarded four songs into the show. Cherone's close-cropped hair was also a stark contrast to the shoulder-length hair of the others.
Tall and extremely thin, he moved with a gangly yet fluid flexibility. He'd collapse like a marionette with its strings cut, then rise with equal grace. At one point he dove gracefully over a wall of amplifiers for no obvious reason.
Cherone, Anthony and Edward Van Halen all made use of the two circular platforms that added visual interest to the stage and dramatics and acrobatics to the performance. The veteran Anthony was a dynamic presense as usual.
Cherone even thanked Sunburn for auditioning for him the night before. The local quintet plays a heavier and more stolid style of heavy rock than Van Halen but proved Cherone's decision well founded. Sunburn held the crowd and enticed more into the arena as they played. They're a band to take note of in local rock.
Things began to drag during Van Halen's double encore. "Josephina" was a fine choice as the opener for the first encore, but it took 10 more minutes, and a second pro forma departure from the stage after that, before Van Halen returned for the second encore and sent the fans bouncing with "Jump."
The million-selling, chart-topping hit from their David Lee Roth days was a perfect closing number, but Van Halen would still have been have been one of the year's best concerts even if they'd gotten to it a few minutes sooner.
John Berger has covered the local
entertainment scene since 1972.