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Van Halen reunion, and one of the greatest shows EVER

So it seems that Van Halen is getting back with David Lee Roth and doing a tour this summer. Apparently they booted Michael Anthony in favor of Eddie’s son to play bass on the tour. In my opinion, Michael Anthony was the best singer VH ever had. If you go back and listen to the old stuff, he is the screamer and he had the best voice. He also did some of the singing on their last tour in 04, which, by the way, was not their best tour. In fact, I thought Michael Anthony was the lone bright spot of the show I saw. The sound sucked, Sammy’s voice was shot, and Eddie seemed flat on most of the songs until he did his solo.

In other news, I was poking around the web and I saw some article about people’s all-time favorite shows, which got me thinking about what was one of the most amazing events I have ever attended. I looked on youtube and searched google, but there is very little written about this show on the web that I have been able to find, probably because it happened well before people were blogging about it or shooting cell phone videos. It was on Van Halen’s Balance Tour, which was back in 1995. The Denver show (when I still lived there) took place at Fiddler’s Green Ampitheater, which is an outdoor arena south of Denver. I went with several friends – in fact we met at one friend’s house who lived near the place and we walked to the show.

In very Denver-like weather (in September), it started to snow right after we got into our seats.

This is an article from some VH site that talks about what happened with one of the VH tech guys who was there…

CS: The footage of the snowstorm in Denver must be outrageous. Even the guys on the crew who have been around for ten or fifteen years said it was the most unusual and memorable outdoor show they have ever done. It was miserable. But we had to make the best of it. The band made it easy because they had a great time with it. A couple of days earlier, we were in some city where it was 106 degrees. When we got to Denver, it was cold and rainy. By 9:00, it started snowing. Nobody in their wildest dreams thought it would snow — it was September! But it kept coming down. We ended up with nine inches on the ground! Things got a little hairy. But we just had to laugh. We had snowball fights with guys on the back-line. All you had to do was scrape it off your shoulders. Out in the crowd, (at Fiddler’s Green) there was no cover over the pavilion area. We were very worried. There was a point, somewhere around 3:00, when we didn’t know if the show was going to happen. Equipment could have been seriously damaged. Ironically, nothing did.

The Inside: Was the crowd miserable?

CS: No! That was the best part about it. The crowd made the whole thing happen. Nobody expected it and they certainly weren’t dressed for it. Wally, our merchandising guy, did slamming business — they were buying everything in sight. I have some friends who were out in the middle of it. They said it was the most incredible concert experience of their lives. The whole crowd bonded because they were all going through the same thing. Finally, the band said, “All these people have been out in the snow for three hours — we can’t not do it!” Eddie’s guitar got drilled by a snowball and he started firing ’em back. Sammy slipped on his ass. I’d love to see the tape.

That pretty much explains what happened. I can remember the snow coming down in thick, wet, gigantic flakes. It immediately started sticking because it had already rained all day, so we got that heavy, wet snow, which eventually caused one hell of a mess that night and the next day. The group of us kept talking about leaving during the show since we had to walk home, but it just kept getting more and more ridiculous, so we stayed. We were literally soaked through our clothes, but it was so much fun.

I remember during Eddie Van Halen’s guitar solo (still an amazing event in itself and worth sitting through a VH show to experience) that the crowd basically went nuts. The band literally played the soundtrack to what turned into the world’s largest snowball fight out in the crowd. People were literally using other people as sleds and sliding down the grass area into the pavillion seats. It was complete insanity, but one of those experiences that never leaves you.

Toward the end of the show, Sammy Hagar looked out at the crowd and said that they usually would go off stage and then come back and do an encore. Instead, he said “fuck that – you people have been amazing tonight, so we aren’t going to fuck around…we’ll play three more songs”. Eddie had gloves on with the fingers cut out and the other guys all had coats on. Alex also had a neck brace on (this was the tour when he messed up his neck and Eddie screwed up his hip).

I would have to say that this show is right up there with the Pink Floyd Pulse show I attended. These are shows that went way beyond the music and evolved into complete events in and of themselves. I wish I could find a YouTube video of it or an audio bootleg or something, but not sure if any exist. At one point, I had tried to dig up any kind of bootleg that I could, but never could find anything. I know they had stuff on the news that night about the concert, and I believe it was also on MTV news the week after, but I can’t find anything so far.

Anyway, that’s my fond Van Halen memory. And for the legions of holySmith! readers out there, I invite you to share your favorite concert memories in the comments section. This blog is a lot more fun when people post stuff on it, so get crackin’.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • uncle bob February 3, 2007, 8:10 pm

    First concert ever attended: The Eagles and John David Souther.A tough act to follow.Over the years I was lucky enough to see Donna Summer,The GOGOs,B52s,ZZ Topp,Marshall Tucker,Michael Jackson,Bruce Springsteen,Rod Stewart,The Rolling Stones,Todd Rundgren,REO Speedwagon,Jimmy Buffett and Hall and Oates.All of these artists knew how to put on a show as opposed to Brian Adams who bored the bejesus out of me. Now that I’m old I no longer have the overwhelming desire to go to a live show. I would much rather listen to the perfect recordings of artists who can still sing and play.As far as snowball fights, I don’t think they’re good for my rotator cuff or sacro-iliac. It’s hell getting old, but at least all the fogies have more to reminisce about than you youngsters. What were we talking about?

  • WriterDude May 22, 2012, 11:34 am

    I was there with my soon-to-be wife. Loved it when Sammy hollered for the house (yeah right) lights to be brought up so they could see the crowd, then he laughed and said “You look like a sea of giant Q-Tips!”

  • Cindy May 6, 2014, 7:06 pm

    I was there, too! Awesome concert and we had a great time. The snow didn’t bother us a bit (we were dressed for it). I just remember laughing so much because it was such a unique experience and the band made it even more entertaining.

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