THERE USED to be a time when much fanfare preceded Van Halen's annual rite of passage into the Capital Centre.
At least a pair of SRO shows. Big plans. The show of the year for many in the hard rock community. The place to see and be seen.
And all the hullabaloo was never justified, as David Lee Roth ruined the party with his non-stop chatter and annoying ego trip.
Last night, in their third tour with Sammy Hagar at the helm, Van Halen seemed to sneak quietly into town instead, albeit to a sold-out crowd. But judging from the pre-event promotions, a more low-key delivery seemed in order.
With all the power the former Van Halen could have only hoped to have generated in its prime, Hagar, Michael Anthony and Alex and Edward Van Halen brought their studio magic to life on the stage, turning in a two-hour, sweat-drenched performance that slowed down only long enough for each member to slide in the obligatory solo.
Virtuoso guitarist Eddie Van Halen wasted no time getting the show rolling with the power-drill intro to "Poundcake," as Hagar's screeching vocals were heard before the lights even came up.
The band opened the show with three of the first four songs from its new album, "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge," including "Judgement Day" and the infectious "Runaround." Later in the show, Van Halen would showcase three more tracks from its latest -- "The Dream Is Over," "316" (an Eddie acoustic masterpiece) and "Top Of The World," its new single and the final encore and highlight of the evening.
Desite ripping through 17 songs -- with three doses of pre-Hagar material to go with various cuts from "5150" and "OU812," as well as three of Hagar's solo tunes -- the only thing that could have made the show better was more of the music that was left out.
From the early era, Hagar did a super job with "Panama" and "Jump," but gave "You Really Got Me" short shrift, hamming it up with Eddie rather than singing the song. Classics like "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love," "Unchained" and "Jamie's Cryin' " were omitted.
From the two albums on which Hagar handled vocals, "Dreams," "Love Walks In," "Summer Nights" and "Feels So Good" were bounced from the set.
But that's OK. Those songs would have served to turn a very good show into a great one, but they were not as sorely missed as one would expect.
What the quartet did deliver was enough to appease anyone who has followed the band over the past decade and a half.
Judging from the playful fun of "Finish What You Started," with the three front men huddled around the center microphone, to the strut and stroll of "Best Of Both Worlds" (straight from the live video), Van Halen doesn't need to make a lot of noise before concerts any more.
:. Instead, they wisely wait until show time.