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Bank Atlantic Center, Sunrise, Florida
April 10th 2012

Tina Saul

tina saul

van halen

When Van Halen announced a host of shows earlier this year, a lot of people were disappointed that no UK dates were included. I certainly was, so I was lucky enough to combine a holiday in the US with one of the dates.

The only time I've seen them previously was in the Sammy Hagar days, back in the summer of 1995 when they supported Bon Jovi as part of their 'These Days' tour. So I was eager to see them play for a second time, but this time with Dave Lee Roth at the helm.

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Before the show I'd read a number of conflicting reports on the gigs and a lot of criticism on DLR and negativity surrounding the absence of Michael Anthony, replaced by Eddie's son Wolfgang. But as I entered the Bank Atlantic Center I went with an open mind, willing the poor reviews to be down to personal opinion, not fact.

This place is almost a replica of London's O2 Arena, which filled me with a sense of dread that it was going to be as soulless and expensive as there. But it wasn't, it was worse.

First up was a trip to the merch stand, where men's t-shirts were retailing for $35 for the smaller sizes, which I guess is about standard, but the larger men were left with what can only be described as a 'fat levy', paying $40. But what struck me with complete surprise was that the fat price also applied to the female option. Less material and fewer choices, seems like the ladies got a raw deal here.

Then to the bar, which was ludicrous, with a double vodka and soda setting me back a cool $17! Which was enough to ensure my trips to the bar were minimal tonight.

So into the venue and, having taken the decision to miss openers Kool And The Gang, it wasn't long until the house lights were cut, to be replaced with a stunningly lit drum kit and Alex Van Halen hitting the stage, followed by Eddie, Wolfgang and DLR, who had a plywood makeshift dance floor to maximise his dancing opportunity.

As they kicked the show off with 'Unchained' I have to admit to being completely underwhelmed. Seemed like Dave's focus was on his dance moves and the rest of the band seemed out of time and not the tight outfit you'd expect with a band of this calibre. And with being in a gigantic arena comes that ever familiar echoey sound.

Moving swiftly on to 'Runnin' With The Devil' and it became so apparent what was missing and that was Michael Anthony's backing vocals. Try as he might, Wolfgang just couldn't live up to his legacy and this gave for a very disappointing version of one of my favourite all time songs.

That changed though once they moved on to the new material. 'She's The Woman' and 'Tattoo' saw a marked improvement in the whole set and Dave Lee Roth handled the vocal well, even combining it with impressive dance moves for a 58-year-old and majorette style spinning of his mic stands.

Most of the crowd seemed to be enjoying the show, but the disappointment in a lot of fans was also apparent. Maybe some of us expected too much and so were left with that empty feeling. DLR was very chatty and only he could get away with stopping the show dead in it's tracks to complain that the blowers were on too high. Did he realise that we were in stifling heat in South Florida and that the cool air was desperately needed to stop us cooking!

There was some impressive solo work tonight, which was a saving grace to the whole night. First Alex had his chance to shine and a perfectly timed drum solo was met with the other three standing to the right of his kit, full of admiration. Then Dave had his solo spot as he took to his dance floor, armed with acoustic guitar, to perform his version of 'Ice Cream Man'.

But it was of course Eddie Van Halen who mesmerised the crowd with his guitar solo. He started off sitting on the step and gave a master class in how to play, and it's a class that the whole arena were willing to attend as the place was silenced.

The penultimate song of the night, 'Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love' was met with a much better reception, and then the whole night ended with the 80s anthem 'Jump' coupled with confetti canon and giant chequered flag. Sadly Diamond Dave didn't replicate the jumps from his karate inspired days of old, but he did carry on his slide moves.

All in all this was a very disappointing show, with only glances of genius that you'd expect from a band like Van Halen. It's a real shame that they couldn't put differences aside and welcome Michael Anthony back to the party as I guess my review would have taken a very different stance.

I didn't so much as jump from the venue home but limped back feeling like I'd been cheated.




Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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