Throughout it’s entire career Van Halen has released 12 studio albums, 2 compilation albums and 1 live album, (with former vocalist Sammy Hagar) but no live album with original singer David Lee Roth. Until now.
Announced on February 5 of this year (ahead of original announcement plans due to an information leak) the two disc release ‘Van Halen Live at Tokyo Dome’ went live March 31. The 2 disc, 25 song release marks the first live release with David Lee Roth and bass player Wolfgang Van Halen. The track listing is basically a Van Halen greatest hits collection from the Roth years, and contains no material from albums the band recorded with singers Sammy Hagar or Gary Cherone.
That said, now comes the important question : How does it sound? In a word – Great. Damn great actually.
Despite whatever feelings fans may have about Michael Anthony being replaced by Eddies son Wolfgang, he handles the bass and backing vocals well. The band itself is tight and right on the money. While it is true that Roth’s voice has changed slightly with age (which is normal) and he doesn’t go as high as he used to, Roth seems to have adjusted his singing to work this in. He doesn’t sound tired or old, but right on the money.
A further thrill for fans is a live version of ‘Eruption’. So if anyone has had any doubts as to whether or not Eddie could play that live, guess what – He can. And damn well too. In fact I’m not sure which version I like better, the original 1978 version from the first album or this new 2015 version from the new album.
The sound quality clear with no background noise, wash or excessive crowd noise. The band interacts with the crowd and each other so well that all the stories of infighting are quickly forgotten.
The only real conflict is when Roth yells at a lighting tech for Eddies spotlight during a solo.
The mark of a good book is transport the reader into the world they’re reading about. The mark of a good live album is to transport the listener from their seat to the arena the band is recording in. Van Halen Live at Tokyo Dome does just that. Not only are the band and recording quality in top shape, but the disc does one thing that many live albums fail to do: catch the energy of good band live.
And again on this front this disc delivers. If you are a Van Halen fan you owe it to yourself, and your ears to pick this album up.