VAN HALEN - Review: Air Canada Center, July 3
by Martin Popoff

Having never seen Van Halen, but having caught David Lee Roth live on the A Little Ain't Enough tour, it was time to smoosh the two together and say, OK, it is as done as it will ever be (done being, well, you know... the real deal).

But alas, this turned out to be near as legitimate as possible (legitimate being, well, you know...), with Van Halen Mk II proving what people have oft said, that Van Halen are pretty untouchable live. The band played to a packed (but not sold out) house of 18,000 or so in Toronto's new-ish hockey and basketball barn. Good enough, but shows at this time of year in Toronto are often upgraded effortlessly to magical through placement in our outdoor Molson Amphitheatre, by the lake, architecturally beautiful, amazing sightlines for all. And if there ever was an outdoor band, heavy metal's beach bums Van Halen are emphatically it. An opportunity missed.

To the show: all I remember about openers Silvertide is that three years ago, publicists were beating us over the head calling these guys the next Guns N' Roses. If they ever made a full-length album, I'm unaware of it, 'cos nobody sent me one. Hey, I guess they are the new Guns N' Roses.

Around 8:30, 9:00, a slightly more recognized band hit the stage to the likes of an instrumental caterwaul only virtuous like Alex and Eddie could muster. Leaping into 'Jump', what thence occurred for the next hour and a half or so was remarkably turned on. Alex looked the same (God love him) with white headband trying to contain stray locks, as the guy beat up a kit with four bass drums. His solo was a brutish, maybe even boorish pure onslaught of as many beats/notes as possible, although he did take a brief instance to show his jazzy/old school skills. Michael was rockin', animated, active, and in astonishingly good voice as he took many back-up vocals plus some leads. His solo... he may as well have brought out some buckets of slop and threw mudpies at the pit. Sammy was killer, although the beachwear was a little too casual for the occasion. But the guy ruled. He was in fine, fine voice, he had the moves, and managed to - skillfully and without compromise to the show - sign about 30 or 40 autographs for memento-thrusting fans.

VAN HALEN - Review: Air Canada Center, July 3 Page 2