This was the very last release from Van Halen before the sad passing of guitarist Eddie Van Halen in the morbid year of 2020. It is also the only official live album to feature original vocalist David Lee Roth. Although this was not 100% live and received very mixed reviews, this is still an album worth listening to, so let’s hear it. The personnel included singer David Lee Roth and three Van Halens (Alex Van Halen on drums, Eddie Van Halen on guitar and Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen on bass guitar). It was all recorded at the Tokyo Dome on June 21, 2013.
We kick off with Unchained which begins with a cool intro of drumrolls and Eddie playing brilliantly here. It just goes to show how talented the band truly was. David Lee Roth asks the crowd if they are ready, before the song gets underway. It is a monstrous sound and sounds really great. Admittedly David Lee Roth’s vocals here aren’t the greatest, but the music here is well done, considering how old these guys were. An interesting song, although no doubt the original was quite a lot better. It is still very energetic and well played all the same. EVH’s playing here is truly awesome, and David Lee Roth speaks some Japanese to the crowd. A good listen and a blast from the past regardless. A wah-wah guitar solo finishes this one off and Eddie’s playing in particular is fantastic here. Excellent stuff.
Next along is Runnin’ With The Devil which has a sped up intro, before launching into the song itself. A decent and energetic piece of music, although DLR’s vocals here don’t sound anywhere as good as he used to. Still, this is a good listen all the same from the Van Halen crew. Awesome to hear regardless, and good to hear these numbers being worked out well live. An awesome listen all the same, and just sounds brilliant. Great to hear, despite the age of the band here. Good stuff all the same. It finishes nicely with the crowd cheering away. Dave chants away at the end, before unleashing into the next song.
She’s The Woman is next, one of the newer numbers here. It sounds really loud, live and rocking here. David Lee Roth’s vocals sound atrocious here. Much like a karaoke act, Van Halen have had better days as a live band. The solo in the midsection is very incredible, although Eddie’s tone here is not the greatest, either. Still, an epic performance by all involved, although one may question some of the sonic sounds here.
I’m The One begins with some awesome guitar playing by Eddie, although his tone is really shockingly bad here. Fortunately, this piece is very fast and upbeat, although Van Halen here sound as though they need a proper sound check at first before going on. Still, energetic and fun as music should be. It is a very thrilling listen if you can overlook the music’s flaws here. Decent, loud and energetic, the guitar solos here are excellently played. It stops in the midsection briefly, before going into the very old school harmonies here, before finishing up. Interesting listening from start to finish. The outro is manic.
Next is Tattoo which sounds pretty awful from the start. It sounds much worse than the original on the A Different Kind Of Truth album. It just falls flat, and doesn’t really sound like it is a good song. Sadly, this is the bad side of Van Halen and it doesn’t sound like it should be on this album. It is Van Halen, just not at their real best. Good to hear once, or even skipping it would help. Eddie plays nicely here, but this is not a decent song. Even if you dig tattoos, this is definitely not your song, unless you are a huge Van Halen fan. There are some interesting texture based guitar sounds towards the end. Avoid this one if you can.
Following is Everybody Wants Some!! which begins with some excellent drum work by Alex Van Halen, which is powerful and energetic. Shortly into it, David Lee Roth yelps away and EVH plays some interesting guitar parts, before launching into the song itself. Very interesting listening, it sounds quite really quite good compared to the previous track. However, it is fairly obvious that this fairly routine sounding music from these guys, and they are butchering one of their classic songs. Still, the performance here is good, just not great. Very interesting to hear anyway. In the middle of the song, it goes into an extended midsection of awesome guitar work from Eddie Van Halen which is different and amazing. David Lee Roth makes some unusual commentary about energy drinks, before speaking some Japanese to the crowd. Obviously, Dave is a very intelligent person to speak Japanese. The song stops completely after a while, with the crowd cheering away. The epic finale here is hilarious and cool, and David Lee Roth will make you laugh hard. Great to finish with some laughs. It finishes with some thunderous sounds, before segueing into the next song.
Somebody Get Me A Doctor is the classic tune from early on in Van Halen’s career. It sounds upbeat and punchy here, and just sounds funny and different as a song. Yes, this isn’t as good as the original song, but still sounds really cool here. EVH’s playing in the midsection solo here is really cool, and despite David Lee Roth’s vocals dragging down the performance, this still sounds quite good. Good song, yet this rendition of it isn’t as good as other renditions of this song. The outro is tremendous.
China Town comes next with a well played, but awful sounding intro. Seriously, Eddie Van Halen’s tone here is not the best. This song is very fast and upbeat, but falls flat in retrospect and should have been chopped out of the song list for the night. It’s okay, just not great. A good listen all the same, Eddie’s playing is really excellent in the solo section, and he proves himself to be an excellent guitarist. Good to hear, but definitely not great.
Next up is Hear About It Later which begins with some flanger heavy playing by Eddie, which honestly sounds rather ordinary. The song gets going, but sounds rather out of place here and just is really an ordinary rendition of the original piece on the Fair Warning album here. By this point, David Lee Roth’s singing and EVH’s guitar tone will give you a bit of a headache. The midsection here is very heavy with Wolfgang’s bass and Alex’s drums playing along well, before Eddie gets his guitar on. A good listen, although rather lacking audibly. It builds up towards the end to a monumental finish, which is good. It segues into the next song.
Following is (Oh) Pretty Woman which really shouldn’t be here, it sounds very out of place and David Lee Roth struggles to sing well here. Sure, it was a good song at the time of original covering by Van Halen, but has aged terribly here. In any case, it’s fairly mediocre here and Van Halen had done better than this. Pretty forgettable and this is definitely worth skipping if you can. It goes into an interesting section towards the end, before having a dramatic finale.
Drum Struck is Alex Van Halen’s drum solo. It’s not as good as his drum solos in previous years, but is an interesting listen all the same. A very South American set of sounds joins in with this piece, and although Alex had better days as a drummer, it is a decent listen. Quite short at less than three minutes long, this is a weird piece of music. Eddie Van Halen and co. return with guitars and other instrumentation to finish this off. Okay, but underwhelming.
You Really Got Me is the traditional Van Halen cover which is originally a piece by the Kinks. David Lee Roth’s singing here is pretty atrocious, but the song itself is lit up by the performance by the Van Halens though. Eddie’s solo in particular here is really excellent, and this is a cool piece if you can ignore David Lee Roth’s singing. There is an interesting, Soul music sounding midsection here. A very decent change here, it shows the ability for the group to tread different territory at times. Alex plays some drums and Dave sings harmonies in an interesting way. The rest of the band catch up with him shortly afterwards, and the song resumes towards the end. Good piece with a humourous twist to it. It finishes with more crowd cheering.
Next is Dance The Night Away which begins with some good playing by the band. It does sound good, until David Lee Roth begins singing. Understandably, Dave cannot carry the notes as well given his age, but sounds ordinary anyway. This song sounds rather butchered compared to the original, of which the latter was much better. Eddie’s harmonics here in the middle sound really great, and David Lee Roth does some interesting chatter to the crowd, which will make you laugh. A good piece of music in any case, although the original was clearly much better. A good listen all the same.
Following is I’ll Wait which begins with a recorded sample of the original keyboard from the song on the 1984 album here. It doesn’t sound right here at all, and honestly you can tell immediately that this should not be on this live album. Still, it’s a good song, just poorly performed and ill thought out. David Lee Roth’s singing destroys this song as well, which is disappointing. The guitar sounds here do not match the keyboard either, and although the band plays well, this is honestly pretty terrible. Worth skipping if you possibly can, and the original was much better. Definitely an oddity here on this album, it sounds out of place here. You’ll be glad when it’s over.
And The Cradle Will Rock... begins with some rather ordinary guitar sounds, before we go into another pretty sub par song here. It just doesn’t do Van Halen or their fans justice here, and everything here sounds pretty ordinary. The midsection here has some good sounds in it, and EVH plays really well. However, this is not the best that Van Halen could do, and it sounds like terrible karaoke here. Ordinary, and pretty forgettable for the most part here. However, Eddie proves himself as the king of shred here, playing the Smoke On The Water riff towards the end, before finishing.
Hot For Teacher is next and begins with some powerful drumming from Alex Van Halen, before launching into this rather ordinary rendition of the original. David Lee Roth breathes some comedy into this song, and this song gets going underway. This is actually a better piece from this album, and David Lee Roth speaks some Japanese to the crowd at various points. Despite this, it is an okay effort but nothing really that great. The Van Halens prove their worth all the same as a unit, and this is a really cool piece of music, despite its obvious flaws. It finishes in a very dramatic way that is quite extended. This could have been edited down a lot though.
Next along is Women In Love… which begins with Eddie’s tapped harmonic intro which does sound really quite nice. Good to hear some variety here, before we launch into a fairly ordinary rendition of the original song. It’s a good song ruined by the circumstances, and probably would have been better off not being on this album. A decent effort anyway, although this is definitely music only recommended for hardcore Van Halen fans out there. Sad to hear this song being destroyed like this, you’d be better off getting a copy of the original DLR era Van Halen albums and listening to the music there. This just doesn’t sound right, and is once again, disappointing.
Following is Romeo Delight is a classic Van Halen song that actually sounds pretty good here. The band here sounds more on top of it that on other songs on this live performance. Very good to hear on this album, which sounds different from a lot of the other mediocre songs here. Eddie Van Halen plays very well here in the solo section here, and just sounds incredible. There is a gurgling midsection of bass and drums here, with some good guitar riffing as well. Dave speaks some nonsense over the top of it, and speaks some very good Japanese too. Before long, the song resumes and finishes quite well. Good rendition here.
Mean Street begins with EVH’s classic guitar riff intro being played, before entering into the song itself, with some really awesome guitar sounds and playing. This is one of the better pieces on the album, largely as it is suitably matched to the original as a cover here. Good to hear, but obviously with glaring flaws here. EVH’s playing is really good here, although his guitar tone is, quite frankly, rubbish here. The midsection here is interesting and quirky, but this feels like it is more show than music specifically. In any case, it’s good, just not great here. It finishes with a load of banging and crashing.
Beautiful Girls comes next, and just sounds like is a bit of a butchered number here. It’s good but not at all great. The original was far better than what we hear here. It sounds like Van Halen were working on a routine with their music here by this point. The playing here is quite good, but this sounds like Van Halen were really just doing this for the money, to be fair. In any case, it’s only really worth hearing if you are a hardcore Van Halen fan and should be avoided otherwise.
Next along is Ice Cream Man which is an acoustic number and starts off with some acoustic playing. David Lee Roth gets singing away a little bit before gradually launches into another classic Van Halen song. This is actually quite good here, and although Dave’s singing isn’t the best, it is a good listen. The band eventually launches into quite a decent rendition of the song, and Eddie Van Halen’s playing here is quite good, showcasing a rare virtuoso talent on the guitar. Towards the end, David Lee Roth sings nicely here and finishes off quite a good listen.
After that is Panama which, from the start, sounds pretty awful a rendition of the classic song. It sounds nowhere near as good as the original back in the day. David Lee Roth’s singing is really awful, and it is clear he has had better days as a good singer. This seems rather difficult to listen to, and is especially difficult after hearing the rest of this rather disappointing album. There is a decent midsection here, where Dave does a lot of humourous nonsense chatter over the music, before a very suspenseful finish occurs. We then finally finish after over five minutes long, which is a bit of a long stretch for this song.
Eruption begins with Alex’s Van Halen doing some energetic drum rolls, before EVH launches into his guitar solo section. His playing from the start is incredible, and it just goes to show how truly talented he was as an electric guitarist. His seemingly effortless shredding and carefully placed together sections of musicality here were what made him a really fine guitar player. Throughout, you can hear how talented and gifted he was as a musician. Everything he plays on this solo are essentially different sections of cleverly done playing and gifted musicianship that sounds incredible. For first time listeners essentially, this will likely amaze and surprise you with his undeniable skills. Definitely a highlight of this album, all aspiring guitarists must listen to this awesome and epic performance by one of the greatest guitarists to ever walk the planet. From start to finish, Eddie will get you listening to this instrumental. R.I.P. Eddie. Great piece of music.
Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love comes next, and is one of the more classic songs by Van Halen. It is a good song but at this point, the fact is that the music here is not the best. A good original song that is seemingly butchered once again, this approach becomes quite wearisome after some time. The quieter midsection here is excellent, with some good guitar riffing by EVH and some decent singing by David Lee Roth. Dave thanks the band and the audience for the night, before the song resumes. It’s okay, but not phenomenal. The music gets rather wearisome towards the end of this album, but it’s nearly over at this point. An extended outro with some massive playing from the band is here, and the song finishes after six minutes.
The last song here is Jump which is an encore song, but sounds really terrible. The original is far better than this performance, as this one has the sped up keyboard patch and David Lee Roth’s tuneless singing. At least the band left the worst to the last, and thankfully you can avoid this. It sounds completely butchered, and is very disappointing. In any case, not a great way to finish off a fairly average live album. You’ll be glad when its over. It finishes with a bunch of drum rolls and playing by the band. Thankfully, this album concludes here. It ends with crowd cheering.
To be fair, this is somewhat akin to musical karaoke by Van Halen, and is a good example of when not to put out a live album. If you really want to hear Van Halen, begin with earlier releases, just not this one. The combination of David Lee Roth’s tuneless singing, Eddie’s squealing guitar and other elements do not do this music justice. Still, this was the last Van Halen album released, so some hardcore fans may appreciate this.
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