David Lee Roth @ Nokia Theatre Times Square (7/13/2006)

Logo - David Lee Roth

Artist: David Lee Roth
Venue: Nokia Theatre Times Square (New York, NY)
Opener: n/a
Date: 7/13/2006
Label: Magna Carta Records

David Lee Roth set the world of Hard Rock music on fire with the debut of Van Halen’s self-titled album back in 1978. Since that time he has proven over and over to be one of the most exciting personalities in the Music business and showed very early what a Rock Star truly was. After his well publicized split from Van Halen, Roth went on a solo career that while it had its ups and downs – you could always count on Dave bringing the goods to the table when the shows were on. Recently, Dave was more in the news for his failed attempt at replacing radio host Howard Stern than for his music so it was a treat to find him getting back to business on stage. The last time I recall Dave playing in our vicinity was for his “Sam and Dave” tour, which was a several week adventure with then former Van Halen front man Sammy Hagar. The pair delivered a night of classic Van Halen, Sammy Hagar and DLR material and was truly one of the best concerts I had seen that year. Sadly, it was a short run and not a lot of people caught onto the special nature of the appearances. It was their loss, not mine. Dave’s last full solo album was “Diamond Dave”, a Magna Carta Records release and for any folks looking for new Dave they would have to pick up a copy of “Strummin’ With The Devil”. The CD is an album of Van Halen classics being given the Country and Bluegrass treatment and Dave does two tracks on the record. Since I don’t own a copy I am not too sure about what else is on it to comment further.

This all brings us to the Nokia Theatre in Times Square NYC where we find a packed venue though not entirely sold out to capacity. The available room allowed for some movement and that was great since there was a lot of jumping and dancing with this crowd who were all diehards for the master entertainer. There was no opening band so it would only be Dave for us to enjoy tonight and by the look of the audience members, no one seemed to care about catching anyone else perform. He hit the stage at a timely 9:35ish after the original knowledge of the show beginning shortly after 8:00pm (which I essentially knew would not happen). For those readers that have not been in the Nokia yet, this venue is a great place to catch a show. It is a revamped movie theatre with a terrific sound system and overall a very accommodating facility. You have two sections to enjoy the concert from by either standing on the floor or sitting back in one of the many seats on the next level. There are balconies but those are generally restricted to VIP and band personal representatives. Now back to the show where out comes Dave like the rock star he is to a thunderous level of approval. He slammed into “Hot For Teacher” as his opener and his four member band surely sounded great. Those who had seen him during the course of his career know that Dave does not always stick to format or have the best voice in a live situation but he does give you the best show money can buy. He was appreciative for the entire set as he pulled classic after classic from his pocket and fed it to a very hungry Rock audience. The level of appeal that the early Van Halen material still has on the fans never ceases to amaze me, and makes me wish that the VH Brothers would just realize that this is what the audience wants no matter what they both think. Sadly, I’m pretty certain that we will never see an original Van Halen reunion tour and for the millions of fans this band has that is indeed a shame.

I mentioned Dave’s band being on point for the whole show and that is an under statement. His guitarist is James Young, who worked in Van Halen tributes before and now continues his Rock adventures with Dave. James is an incredible guitarist who is not only capable of handling the guitar gymnastics of Eddie Van Halen but also Steve Vai. People should get used to the name as I think we shall be seeing a lot of exciting things from this musician. Drumming was incredible and I was surprised to find it to be Jimmy DeGrasso from Megadeth that was handling the kit. Jimmy recently finished up some touring with Rock legend Ronnie Montrose and according to friends who saw him in this situation he did a damn good job of that as well. Last time I caught Roth he had Ray Luzier on the drums, but seeing DeGrasso was most certainly a welcome surprise. The bassists name eluded me and all I heard from him on his rhythm player was that he was Toshi. Sorry guys but don’t worry I still think you both rocked the place. You would not be left for want with most of the set that Dave and the guys laid down, and barring one or two exceptions I really enjoyed myself. Dave was his usual self with a couple of funny stories from his life and this is also a large part of his appeal, he simply knows how to keep the audience in his palm until he feels like letting go. As mentioned earlier he does a couple of Bluegrass numbers on that album and for those songs he was joined onstage by The John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band. The rock quartet steps offstage for this and leaves Dave with some of the finest players of this type of material ever recorded. It was interesting to hear “Jump” performed this way, but I admit to not being too crazy with the rendition of “Jaime’s Cryin’”. The audience overall seemed receptive to this part of the show and that was cool to see, perhaps those that were silent were just in shock but I admit finding it very unique and once again an example of how wide a direction you can go in music. Dave would close with the real version of “Jump” and do his martial arts tricks as well. Even though I left the venue a happy man I was a little sad that he did not play either “Ice Cream Man” or “Yankee Rose”. Sadly we were not able to secure any means to take pictures this evening, but be rest assured Dave looked great.

Set List:
1. Hot For Teacher
2. California Girls
3. Just Like Paradise
4. Runnin’ With The Devil
5. Eruption
6. You Really Got Me
7. Beautiful Girls
8. Somebody Get Me A Doctor
9. Jaime’s Cryin’
10. Cradle Will Rock
11. Just A Gigalo
12. Unchained
13. Beck song
14. Panama
15. Dance The Night Away
16. Jaime’s Cryin (Bluegrass)
17. Jump (Bluegrass)
18. Everybody Wants Some
19. Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love
20. Jump

Official Web site: www.davidleeroth.com

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