Van Halen puts out maximum rock

October 18, 1991|By Rafael Alvarez

Landover -- Right now.

That's all that matters, Sammy Hagar told a crowd of 16,000 rock-and-roll fans at the Capital Centre last night.

And right now, Van Halen is the most successful act on the rock circuit, pulling into Landover behind their third consecutive No. 1 album -- "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" -- and playing before yet another sellout crowd.

"I don't see anything significant about this tour," said longtime fan Glenn Donithan, who had paid $12.50 -- $10 less than he did last night -- to see Van Halen here in 1982.

"They're one of the few bands to start on top and stay on top."

The California quartet made it to the big time in the late 1970s on the sizzle and squeal of Eddie Van Halen's guitar work -- sonic rock married to classical fretting, acknowledged by tough customer Frank Zappa as a virtual reinvention of the guitar.

And Eddie, his brother Alex on drums, singer Hagar and bass player Michael Anthony (wearing a way cool "That Girl" T-shirt) brought it home last night with "Judgment Day," "Round and Round," "When It's Love," "There's Only One Way to Rock," "Panama," "Jump" and "Why Can't This Be Love?" among many others.

Each member took a solo spotlight -- with Eddie's moment quite spectacular and saved for last and bassist Anthony's the most pointless -- but the most impressive thing about Van Halen's show was the enthusiasm, levity and zest they pumped into simple rock songs with simple hooks.

Eddie's virtuosity alone would not be enough to sell out hockey rinks from Bangor, Maine, to Seattle and the band knows it, instead using his guitar as a launching pad for songs that sparkle with color while knocking the listener out with power.

"This ain't a show, man, it's an event. We're here to give you all hTC the music, blood and sweat you can stand," said Hagar, who talked to the audience incessantly and smiled the entire show.

Right now. Van Halen is maximum rock and roll.

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