Undoubtedly the loudest concert you will ever experience, Van Halen is still totally worth the ringing ears and the beer-sticky shoes. On the last tour that VH played at the (then) Wachovia Center, Eddie’s offspring, Wolfgang, was still in high school, and a backstage study room was part of the band’s tour rider. Now, Wolfie is all grown and graduated, and the band is back with its first tour in four years—and its first new studio album in 28 years. A Different Kind of Truth arrives in stores Feb. 7, and Van Halen disembarks in Philadelphia on March 5 to showcase music from the 13-song album and the band’s storied past. (Since publishing this story, a show has been added for March 24 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.)
And, oh! What stories they can tell! The band—notorious for crazy backstage riders (who can forget the “no brown M&M’s” legend?) and booty calls—has seemingly settled into adulthood. Putting much of the past several decades’ drama aside, this foursome heads out on the road Feb. 18 for close to 50 dates from Kentucky to New Orleans. With Kool and the Gang (yes, that Kool and the Gang!) opening on select dates, including Philadelphia, the show promises to be more than entertaining, to say the least.
With new material to draw from on this tour, the setlist will be a blend of old and new. New song titles like “Honey Baby Sweetie Doll,” “Beats Workin’” and the new single, “Tattoo,” will be interspersed with classics like “Everybody Wants Some!!” and “Hot for Teacher.” As of writing this story, the band is still in rehearsal, so there’s no word on just how long the set will be. It’s pretty much a guarantee that no one will be left wanting, though.
VH recently played an intimate, invite-only club gig at NYC’s Café Wha?, and those in attendance said the boys are fit and having fun. David Lee Roth is still jumping, and Eddie is still shredding. Wolfgang is a permanent fixture in the band, as original bassist Michael Anthony is now with Chickenfoot, the band of former VH lead singer Sammy Hagar. And since he’s of age, Wolfie’s mom, Valerie Bertinelli, doesn’t have to worry about his schoolwork every night on the road. In fact, by all reports, Val and her new hubby, plus Eddie and his new wife, are all one big happy extended family these days.
Apparently, some of the material from the new album dates back to VH’s ’70s club days and has been retooled and/or reworded. Hagar hasn’t minced words in his disdain for this practice, but so what? Eddie says that they have 10 albums worth of unreleased material in the archives. And if that’s what it takes to keep Van Halen on the road, then I say, “Keep digging!”
Philadelphia: March 5. 7:30 p.m. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19148. Tickets: SOLD OUT.
New Jersey: March 24. 7:30 p.m. Boardwalk Hall, 2301 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ 08401. Tickets: On sale Jan. 28 at 10 a.m. Call (800) 736-1420 or visit livenation.com.