The long-gestation of the David Lee Rock reconciliation with the Van Halen brothers seems to have finally reached something of a climax. Back in February, Van Halen (the band, not the family) announced they would be touring with David Lee Roth for the first time since 1984/5. Such was the ballyhoo that nary a complaint was registered that the 2007 incarnation of Van Halen still wasn't the Van Halen -- charismatic bassist Michael Anthony would be replaced this go-round with Eddie Van Halen's teenage son, Wolfgang. (Because that's what you want to expose your kid to, the backstage of a massive summer reunion tour where Diamond Dave is running free and wild.) None of this mattered very long, though, because the tour was canceled almost as quickly as it was announced. Turned out that Eddie needed to take some time off in rehab to get his vices straighted out before embarking on the Vice Express Train for a Summer of Vice with Van Halen tour. And here everyone thought David Roth would be the downfall of the tour.
Amazingly, Eddie's stint in rehab might have been the best thing to happen to him and the band.
Exhibit 3: New Eddie with Roth at the re-announcement of the 2007 Van Halen Reunion Tour: (Photo courtesy Washington Post)
So it looks like it's for real this time. And hopefully it will last longer than the 2005 tour, where Sammy Hagar and the Van Halen clan were chummy to the point of talking about a new record, only to see that partnership fall apart, again, because of, again, massive egos. (One wonders how much Michael Anthony's friendship with the Red Rocker had to do with his not being invited back to play with VH...)
A couple weeks ago, the band released its touring schedule. Of course, as so many other major tours have done over the past few years, they aren't coming to Pittsburgh, at least initially (the Sans Halen Tour from 2003 with Roth and Hagar didn't swing through the area until it embarked on its second leg); the closest the band comes is Cleveland on Oct. 10. And while where the band is playing isn't shocking overall, the ticket prices are.
Today, the first batch of shows went on sale through Ticketmaster, providing the first real chance to see how much this 22-years-in-the-making tour would set VH fans back. It's not pretty:
Charlotte, NC; Charlotte Bobcats Arena -- Floor Seating: $125; Lower Level: $75-125; Upper Level: $49.50-75
Greensboro, NC; Greensboro Coliseum Complex -- Floor Seating: $125; Lower Level: $75-125; Upper Level: $49.50-$125
Rosemont, IL; Allstate Arena -- Main Floor: $149.50; Lower Level: $49.50-$149.50; Upper Level: $49.50-$149.50
Chicago, IL; United Center -- Main Floor: $149.50; Main Floor Pit: $149.50; Lower (100) Level: $79.50-$149.50; Club (200) Level: $79.50-$149.50; Upper (300) Level: $49.50-$79.50
Auburn Hills, MI; Palace of Auburn Hills -- Floor Seating/Reserved: $149.50; Club (100 or lower) Level: $79.50-$149.50; Platform Seating-End of Arena: $79.50; Loge (200 or upper) Level: $49.50-$79.50
(All prices accurate according to Ticketmaster's website at 12 pm Saturday, August 18, 2007)
In addition to these tickets, hardcore fans can purchase four- and five-star packages through ILoveAllAccess.com. The four-star package gets you a ticket in the first 20 rows and an "exclusive" Van Halen gift and runs $350; springing for the five-star spread means you get a reserved seat inside the ramp, a Van Halen 5 Star souvenir laminate, a backstage tour, a pre-show party, an exclusive Van Halen gift bag, access to crowd-free merchandise shopping, and parking, all for a cool $695. A lot of the first shows on the tour are already sold out of these packages.
In this moment of inflated concert prices and gigantic nostalgia reunion tours (The Police, etc.), the Van Halen ticket prices might not seem all that exorbitant. However, consider that VH isn't the Police. They aren't Prince. They aren't the Rolling Stones. This is a band that, arguably, reached its creative peak in 1984, continued making albums for 14 years to mostly-lackluster results, are on their sixth singer (Roth, Hagar, Gary Cherone, Roth, Hagar, and now Roth again), the line-up isn't original, there's an unproven, untested bassist in a band where the bassist has a huge role, and there's no guarantee the tour will go the whole way. Plus, the band won't play its entire discography; no way will Roth sing a Hagar tune the way Hagar sang Roth's. (When Hagar was with VH, he had to sing Roth's stuff because Roth's songs were bigger hits than Hagar's.) On top of all this, Van Halen fans of been down this road before, a couple times. And, frankly, based on how Roth sounded on the Sans Halen Tour and the way Van Halen sounded when they last played with Hagar, they're not as keen musically as they used to be. Sure there's an energy to their songs and their stage presence, but you cannot discount the role sentimentality (and copious amounts of booze) plays in the good feelings coming away from a 21st century Van Halen concert.
Obviously, there are a lot of people who want to see Roth on stage with the giant VH wings behind him, Eddie on guitar, and Alex Van Halen on the drums. And obviously VH and its management are going to squeeze as much money out of the situation as possible. But wouldn't it be nice if VH embarked on a little goodwill tour here? You know, something that says, "OK, look. We know we've dicked you over for almost two decades. But lets make amends, OK? We're back, we appreciate so many of you sticking with us, and to show our gratitude here's a kick ass tour that won't break the bank." Oh, to live in a world where humility wasn't a looked-down upon virtue. But, if there's one thing the music industry has taught us, it's that being a rock star means never having to say you're sorry to the people that made you filthy rich.