In it's own way, this little gem is far more embarrassing than Danzig.
I know.....that seems off. I mean, Van Halen is royalty. The single most wonderfully talented guitar player of his generation, and one of the great American bands of all time. How on earth could this be more embarrassing than a short little guy who looks like the neighborhood mechanic and spends most of his energy trying to convince everyone that he's evil?
Simple really: This is Hagar-era Van Halen. And Van Hagar was a horrible, horrible facsimile of everything that was awesome about Roth-era Van Halen.
There are people who sometimes try to debate this with me, and I can't even bring myself to form a full argument without losing control. When I think of the VH Roth era, I think of other great American bands like the Ramones and Areosmith and the Allmans.
When I think of the Hagar era, I can't quite think of anything much more impressive than Eddie Money. Or maybe Journey. I think of guys that I can only see as perpetually-middle-aged, slightly paunched, and past the point of being all that interested in groupies and blow. I think of guys that have sobered up, guys who hawk hot sauce, and guys who write weak-ass Buffett-style anthems about tequila.
Why, then, did I go see the Hagar-era Van Halen??
Because my roommates made me.
It was the last week of senior year of college, and my roommates were a pair of guitar nerds. We were all about to go our separate ways, and these guys totally thought that Van Halen at the Spectrum would be a great way to cap off college.
That....and they called the arena the day of the show to see if any tickets had freed up once the stage was constructed to the venue's specs (an old trick, but a very effective one).
Front row, stage left. How on earth was I supposed to turn this down?
So this was the Balance tour, a tour behind an album for which I can't even remember one single. Not one.
Still I can't honestly say that it was a bad night.
It was one of Eddie's first sober tours, and we were actually on his side of the stage. At one point he and I actually made eye contact, and I made some sort of shocked face when our eyes met. Without missing a note, he mimicked my facial expression, grinned, and moved on. It was pretty awesome, I must admit...In fact, I smile anytime I think of that exchange. It was a great, great moment.
At the end of the night, someone threw a hat on the stage, and Sammy Hagar threw it back in the crowd. I caught it and gave it to one of my roommates.
Collective Soul opened, and did a respectable job for themselves.
Somehow, I still find it embarrassing, despite what a wonderful memory it is.