Monday, October 05, 2015

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 150

The Time Mookie Listened to Van Halen: Tokyo Dome Live In Concert

Given the Episode number here (150) and the subject matter involved - maybe this should be
Episode "5150."  I digress.

I am going to share something with you that is hard for me to admit:  The current incarnation of Van Halen live with David Lee Roth sucks balls.  Big big big balls. Like elephantitis of the balls suckage.

Let me say again, you have no idea how hard this was for me to admit and say out loud.  If you know me or have read any of my stories, you know I am a big Van Halen fan.  I have followed them forever, I have ALL of their CD’s, I check up on them in the news to see what they are up to, and I have seen them in concert at least three times.  When it comes to the debate as to whom I like better as lead singer David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar, I have always said that I like both of them because it truly depends on the day. This may be a total cop-out, but it's the honest-to-God truth.  There are some days I totally want Dave’s screeching vocals and sass (Outta Love Again - Van Halen II), and then there are days where I want to hear Sammy hit those smooth high notes that Dave can’t even begin to touch (When It's Love - OU812).
If you love Van Halen, do not buy this album

Van Halen released Tokyo Dome Live In Concert back in March 2015, and my curiosity definitely flared because - Hey! New Van Halen!  When I checked out the reviews online though, the immediate verdict was not good.  Most of them said that Dave’s voice was terrible and/or shot, and the record itself was an embarrassment for the band.  Upon hearing this, I sort of dismissed the reviews in my head by telling myself the critics "didn't get it" or they were just Van Halen-haters.  However I have to admit that I did not run out and purchase the CD and prove the critics wrong either.  I told myself that I'd get around to getting it eventually, but deep down I think I knew that I was delaying the inevitable and was just kidding myself.

Based on my personal experience with David Lee Roth, I know he does not “perform” the songs in concert the same way he sounds on the records. David Lee Roth in concert is an act in of itself and most of the entertainment Dave provides itself is based on watching David Lee Roth.  I've seen Roth live before and he is a TOTAL showman. His shtick is usually what makes him entertaining while he attempts to sing the songs live.  Finally, one recent day at work I decided to listen to Tokyo Dome Live In Concert via the magic of the internet and give it its due attention.  What I listened to that afternoon through my bulky headphones at my desk left me saddened and broken.  Saddened. And Broken.  It was bad.  I mean beyond Van Halen 3 with Gary Cherone-bad (and sweet Jesus that's bad).

Dave’s vocals are awful.  He doesn’t sing, and when he does his voice is shot.  No studio re-mastering could ever fix what they put out on this plate of crap.  I will go on record though and say the rest of the band sounds AWESOME.  Eddie Van Halen can play a guitar like no one else can, and it is showcased on this album.  Holy cow.  Alex Van Halen on the drums is as good as ever and is still one of the baddest-ass drummers out there.  The bass guitar position is sufficiently played  by Eddie's son Wolfgang, and while his background vocals are "adequate," they are no where near the caliber of former bassist Michael Anthony.  Mikey was the soul and backbone of that band prior to his rudely orchestrated dismissal whether Eddie Van Halen admits it or not.

So while I haven't seen this incarnation live myself (and I would in a New York minute if I could), I feel that this album just put a huge dent in the fender of the Van Halen machine and legacy.  A big, big dent.

The Circle - Mike, Sam, Jason, and Vic
To make matters worse regarding this situation, a day or so later I listened to a live concert on You Tube with Sammy Hagar and The Circle (which is composed of Jason Bonham on drums, Michael Anthony on bass, and Vic Johnson on guitar).  This band is currently touring and they play Sammy Hagar songs he has played on during his 40-some-years in rock-n-roll.  This is solo stuff, Montrose stuff, Van Halen stuff, and Chickenfoot stuff.  I listened to this show (unedited and no mastering), and holy shit they blew the roof off the place.  In a word, they were AWESOME.  After listening to this performance and coming to the thought that this was totally badass, I sat back for a moment and wondered if I had personally come to a decision in my life - was Sammy Hagar better than David Lee Roth in Van Halen?  At first I was like "You know what? Based on what I just heard, he totally was!"  But then I backtracked a bit and rationally thought about it by putting "Prime Dave" against "Prime Sammy." With this idea in my head, the previously mentioned argument about who was better still stands - They were both great, and It depends on the day.

Having said that, if I am going to state who is better at this point in time in their lives (Both Dave is going to be 61 and Sam is going to be 68 in October), I think without question:  Sammy is the clear winner on who can still get out on the stage and get it done.  Kids, this guy GETS. IT. DONE.

I am sticking to that decision.

Miss a previous episode?  Check out the archive to see what you have missed.

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