Hagar, Roth revive best, worst of Van Halen days
By Jonathan Perry, Globe
MANSFIELD - That the Tweeter Center's stage was big enough to accommodate the two outsized egos of former Van Halen frontmen Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth was in and of itself a feat. That the two embattled and embittered singers shared it - separately but equally in 90-minute sets - was, for VH diehards, something just short of a miracle.
Dubbed the ''Sam and Dave
Show,'' with the ousted Van Halen singers trading headlining spots
on alternating nights of the tour (Roth topped the bill Wednesday),
Hagar and Roth each strove mightily to summon their respective VH
eras and approximate the bombastic flash of the bad old days. What
Wednesday's performances made clear is that, after all these years,
Hagar's generic frat-boy shtick as a gonzo party animal has, surprisingly,
worn better than Roth's persona as a preening hard-rock dandy. But
what the show also made clear (or, depending on one's loyalties, reaffirmed)
is that the original Roth-era VH catalog - despite the singer's shortcomings
at delivering it - is easily its best.
Clad in shorts, yellow
high-top sneakers to match his bleached hair, and a succession of
slogan-emblazoned T-shirts (including one advertising his own Cabo
Wabo nightclub), Hagar came across like a heavy metal Jimmy Buffett.
He downed tequila cocktails (served to him by waitresses outfitted
in what resembled two-piece cocktail napkins), chugged beers with
special guest VH bassist Michael Anthony, and amiably espoused the
merits of sex and the seven-day weekend. In between, there were also
some songs, most of which were built around Hagar's three central
concerns: heavy metal (''Heavy Metal''; ''There's Only One Way to
Rock''), hot rods (the pre-VH solo anthem ''I Can't Drive 55''), and
hedonism (''Mas Tequila,'' during which our party host bashed a tequila
bottle pinata that spewed confetti).
Hagar's hearty bellow was
in fine, stalwart form, having lost little of the power that made
its owner a chest-thumping staple of '70s and '80s FM radio. His blisteringly
loud band roared through more than a dozen of his VH and solo numbers,
delivering faithfully overwrought renditions of such power ballad
mainstays as ''Right Now'' and ''Why Can't This Be Love.'' When compared
with Roth's selections, however, those hackneyed tunes, along with
a pummeling ''Best of Both Worlds,'' were blandly faceless fare. The
guest duet vocal with Hagar's successor and ex-VH singer/local-boy-made-good
Gary Cherone on ''When It's Love'' only served to underscore that
Roth opted for a far less
cluttered stage, a ferociously tight three-piece band, and no guest
stars, but he could have used some help. Shimmying and spin-kicking
- aimlessly it seemed - in purple jacket and matching skintight trousers,
Diamond Dave just couldn't summon the raunchy glitter and glitzy lust
of old. The songs were there for the taking - ''Panama,'' ''Ain't
Talkin' 'Bout Love,'' and ''Everybody Wants Some'' still packed a
sexy, devastating wallop - but Roth seemed too worn out to do much
more than flash some skin, play the ever-lascivious buffoon, and offer
a tired echo of his once gloriously campy past.
Although Roth's set steadily
picked up momentum as he trotted out hits like ''Little Dreamer''
and ''Jump,'' a few early verbal jabs at Hagar seemed to cost him
some of the audience, something from which he never recovered.
Sammy Hagar and David Lee
At: Tweeter Center,
This story ran on page C12 of the Boston Globe on
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.
Unlikely duo relive
Van Halen days
By Steve Morse, Globe Staff,
A surprise hit this summer
has been the so-called ''Sam and Dave Show.'' It's a double-billed
Van Halen tribute with past Van Halen singers Sammy Hagar and David
Lee Roth. Some serious negotiation was required to get them to stop
sniping at each other and actually get on the road, but the impossible
happened, and there has been no looking back.
''If you want to judge
us and say, who won - Sam or Dave? - well, you're going to find out
that the fans really win,'' Hagar says of the tour, which stops at
the Tweeter Center tomorrow night.
''We haven't kissed and
made up, but we just shook hands from a distance and said, `OK, you
behave yourself, and I'll behave myself.' Those are the rules,'' Hagar
says from the road.
Roth has stopped doing
interviews, but he was the initial catalyst for the tour, putting
aside his bitterness about the way that Van Halen fired him to make
way for Hagar. (The band then fired Hagar in favor of Boston singer
Gary Cherone, who was later let go by the band. Cherone has been invited
to sing tomorrow and is expected to appear.)
The commercial potential
of Roth's gesture for a double bill was obvious to Hagar manager Irving
''Irving told me, `Look,
just swallow your ego and look above the media situation with Dave.'
And as soon as I did that, it was easy,'' Hagar says. ''I don't have
to think about Dave, and I don't have to watch him on stage. I just
have to do my own thing.''
Both singers play a 90-minute
set - and they flip-flop each night as to who will open (Hagar is
opening tomorrow.) They also share seven truckloads of production
equipment (the size of a Van Halen show), including a 30-by-60-foot
video screen. ''Everything had to be even,'' Hagar says. ''If one
of us tried to one-up even a quarter of an inch over the other guy,
the other went, `No deal. I ain't doing it.' But the truth is, we've
got a great production and the same amount of special effects. Dave
chooses to have 16 spotlights, and I choose to have more moody effects
with the lights, but it all evens out.
''At first, I didn't trust
Dave,'' Hagar says. ''I thought he was just trying to get back at
Van Halen to try to make them jealous. You know, that old boyfriend/girlfriend
thing where you make your girlfriend jealous by taking out another
girl, and then she wants you back. I thought he was maybe trying to
use me for that. So I just scoped him out and had a couple of meetings
with him at Irving Azoff's office. ... And he seemed like he was willing
to do anything to make this happen, so I gave it a shot, and it's
Don't look, though, for
any duets with the two. ''Originally, I thought, let's make it a friendly
affair, like we'd do an Elton John/Billy Joel thing and go out together.
But Dave said, `No, I've never jammed with anyone in my life, and
I'm not comfortable with it.' So I said, `Fine.'''
Hagar divides his set between
Van Halen material and his own solo hits, whereas Roth's set is almost
all Van Halen tunes. Another treat for Van Halen diehards is that
Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony is expected to join Hagar onstage
tomorrow. Hagar and Anthony are also part of a new band called Planet
Us (with guitarist Neil Schon of Journey) that will release an album
This story ran on page E2 of the Boston Globe on 8/27/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.
Grant's 2002 Concerts