Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

21Feb/121

Bootleg Vision: Van Halen Open 2012 Tour In Louisville

How did you spend your Presidents Day holiday? Me? I was enjoying Saturday night's tour opening show by Van Halen, thanks to the immediacy of the internet.

Certainly with Youtube, it's no surprise to find video from the show you attended at [insert club here] on the morning after. For bands/artists with extremely passionate fanbases (think: Springsteen, U2, etc.), it's almost a given that you'll be able to find at least one audio download of the entire show - maybe multiple sources and eventually, probably video of that entire show as well.

[And from there, it gets crazy, because people start posting multi-camera shot versions, brought together using the various video sources of each show that circulate. Which is when people start to argue about which one is the "best" version. You know the drill.]

For a band like Van Halen, an event on the level of their highly anticipated tour opening show in Louisville, Ky. with David Lee Roth on the mic meant that taper fans were really on their game. Less than 12 hours after the show wrapped while some of the attendees were probably still sleeping, there was already a DVD of the show available.

By the time that I finished downloading it, someone had already posted a "better" version with upgraded audio. But I had already burned my copy, so it's not like I was going to be a snob and wait to download the upgraded version before I watched it? Who has that kind of patience?

Going into the tour, I was skeptical about whether or not it would be necessary for me to see this show, since I saw the previous 2007/2008 reunion tour with Roth three times. As I discussed with friends, it would come down to the setlist. The last tour featured quite a few "rarities," so how would Van Halen top that?

The answer, my friends, came in the form of a pair of tunes from Van Halen II, including "Women in Love" and  "Outta Love Again," both MIA from Van Halen concert setlists since 1979 and 1980 respectively.

A circulating "master" setlist indicated that 1984's "Girl Gone Bad" was a future possibility.....and indeed, it made its first appearance last night in Detroit! (Although sadly for Detroit fans, the inclusion came at the expense of "Outta Love Again" which was lifted out with "Girl" taking its place.)

Length wise, the show clocks in 24 songs deep, about the same as most of the shows on their initial reunion tour. New material from the A Different Kind of Truth album and the added rarities mean that some of the songs featured on the last tour have taken a back seat. "I'm The One," "Atomic Punk," "So This Is Love," "Jamie's Cryin'" and "Little Dreamer" go on the shelf, at least for now.

If there's any further setlist variations throughout the tour, some variety and additional surprises would of course be very possible. The 2007 reunion tour notably featured nearly every song off of Van Halen except for "Feel Your Love Tonight" and "On Fire." So far, the current tour continues the embargo on those two songs....and when it comes to "Feel," what gives?

As my friend Matthew notes in his review of the Louisville gig, the choice of material from the new album could leave some of the diehard VH fans wanting more. There's sadly no "You and Your Blues," which is easily one of my favorite cuts from the new album. Ditto for "Blood and Fire," although the "master setlist" indicates that as an additional possibility. I'd also like to hear "As Is" and "Stay Frosty," which seems to be the sleeper cut making waves with fans ranging from me to Dave Grohl.

But the setlist that made it to our ears is a damn good one and you can enjoy some particularly nice video from the opening night at the bottom of this post, thanks to Randy.

The band is endorsing audio and video recording of the new tour and those same type of recordings proved to be a bit of a liability in 2007 when Eddie Van Halen was hitting his low points. Thankfully, the recordings today will act as an endorsement for why you should go out and see this band live.

Eddie looks great and healthy and he's playing like a motherf**ker, just like the old Eddie that we know and love so well. His one handed riffing on "She's The Woman" was paired with a smile that would remain plastered on his face for most of the night. He broke out the classic yellow and black "Frankenstein" guitar when they got to "Tattoo," the polarizing first single from the Truth album.

Although Michael Anthony is very much missed by this Van Halen fan in the lineup, Wolfgang Van Halen really has found his confidence on stage and the joyful interplay between EVH and son really is something to see.

Diamond Dave, what can ya say? He's still got plenty of Daveisms on tap, ready to dish out at a moment's notice. "Everybody Wants Some" brought the DLR quip "party here, party there....party f**kin' everywhere!" But the headset mic, Dave - lose the headset mic.

It might be a big pipe dream at this point, but a tour featuring Van Halen and Chickenfoot really would be the best of both worlds. If Dave and Sammy were able to (somewhat) pull it off solo, hopefully the two bands can find a way to share the stage someday.