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Patrick's Concert Quips

I happened to catch Van Halen at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts in October 2007. David Lee Roth was back in with the band and Michael Anthony was out, only to be replaced by Eddie Van Halen's teenage son, Wolfgang Van Halen. The city was crazy; not for Van Halen, but for the Red Sox. They just won the World Series and that was the day of the parade. The band took it in style; Eddie even came out wearing red socks! The show was fun. They played what the fans wanted to hear - DLR era VH. David proved he was still one of the best front men of all time. Eddie is still the best guitar player. Alex Van Halen is the only drummer for VH. And Wolfgang, well, to be fair was not quite ready for thousands of screaming fans every night. The guys sound great but one thing I noticed was Wolfgang's playing. Was that really him?
    Let's roll to the Garden, March 2012.... This was a different kind of Van Halen. They were ready to party. Heck, Kool And The Gang opened up for them. They were fun and could still boogie. Then Van Halen comes out and they were awesomely solid. Wolfgang's role in the band had clearly changed. He had not only grown in height but as a musician. He and Alex kept the show grounded, and in turn allowed David and Eddie to fly without a net. The band played songs from every DLR/VH album. I even heard "Oh, Pretty Woman" from Diver Down. The new songs like "Tattoo," "Chinatown," "She's The Woman," and "That's The Trouble With Never" sounded great live. Not wanting to be fooled, I caught them again when they came around to Manchester, New Hampshire. Van Halen still sounded great.

I happen to catch them opening night at the Verizon Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire. What was different about this tour is that there was no opening act anymore. It is simply "An Evening With Rush." The show was broken into three acts. The first was Geddy, Alex, and Neil playing B-sides and rarities with a few hits thrown in. For the second act they played most of the new CD with a full string orchestra! I don't think they have ever done something like that before. The third act was them playing their big hits. The show was a mixed bag of technical problems. The mix of the string section with the band was not good, and the third act had instruments shorting out to the point where the band had to stop playing and Alex had to start telling jokes. It's never a good idea to try stand up comedy in the middle of a rock concert. A couple months later the tour came to the Boston Garden and they rocked the house! They changed the set list in the first act. The mix with the string section was a hundred times better. They still did most of Clockwork Angels, but were much tighter. They dropped "Working Man" in the third act, but we still heard "Tom Sawyer," "The Spirit Of Radio," "YYZ," and a nice helping of 2112. It was great. The audience loved every moment the band's mojo was back.
    A funny thing happened to Rush recently; they were finally elected into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame! I guess nice guys can come in first.
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