Fans of hard rock band Van Halen milled about on Atlantic City’s famous boardwalk awaiting their show at Boardwalk Hall on Saturday, March 24. In all directions, people could be seen donning a variety of Van Halen t-shirts showing their rocker spirit. Opening for Van Halen was R&B group Kool & The Gang, playing some familiar songs.
One member of Kool & The Gang acknowledged the audience as a Van Halen crowd in good spirits, entertaining with fun songs. The R&B group played songs such as “Hollywood Swinging” as spotlights swept over the crowd in the style of those at a Hollywood premiere event. The most familiar songs they played included “Ladies Night,” “Too Hot” and “Get Down on It.”
The audience of rock fans really got into the spirit as Kool & The Gang played their classic party tune, “Celebration,” with a message of celebrating life. Their performance reflected that message with high energy in their dancing as well as in playing their instruments.
As Kool & The Gang’s show came to an end, one of its members yelled out, “Are you ready for Diamond Dave?” Pumped up to see Van Halen, the audience cheered Kool & The Gang’s performance and the countdown was on for the classic hard rock band led by David Lee Roth to take the stage.
After the intermission, Roth emerged from backstage with bandmates including drummer Alex Van Halen and guitarist Eddie Van Halen. According to their iTunes biography, Van Halen’s hits go back to 1978. Joining them on tour was Eddie’s son Wolfgang, showing his own skills on bass. In a 2009 Rolling Stone article by Brian Hiatt, Eddie discussed just how connected his son now is to Van Halen.
With Diamond Dave and his bandmates greeting their Atlantic City audience, it was time to rock. Van Halen played some of their heavy-hitting classics, including “Runnin’ with the Devil,” “Everybody Wants Some” and “Somebody Get Me A Doctor.” The audience chanted along to the lyrics, “Hey, Hey, Hey” with fists pumping in the air to their hit, “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.”
Along with the band playing onstage together, a few solos by Alex and Eddie wowed the rock music-loving audience. First was Alex’s drum solo, accompanied by a light show keeping pace with his awesome beats. Later, it was Eddie’s turn to impress with his legendary guitar skills. Whether or not people in nearby seats had seen Van Halen before in concert, they were nevertheless in awe at the talents of both musicians.
Roth also impressed with his signature footwork, including high kicks and jumps. The big screen behind the band would sometimes play his moves in slow-motion as an added effect to the live show.
Throughout the show, Van Halen mixed it up with a set list that also included their 80s hits with Roth and songs from the new album, “A Different Kind of Truth.” Some favorites from Van Halen’s 80s era played during the show were “Hot for Teacher,” “Panama” and “I’ll Wait.” New songs on their set list included “Tattoo” and “China Town.”
Other songs played for the rock fans that night included “Beautiful Girls,” “Dance the Night Away,” “Ice Cream Man” and “You Really Got Me.” However, the night of rock and roll with Van Halen wasn’t over just yet.
Van Halen closed their hard-rockin’ show with their 80s hit, “Jump,” during which Roth waved an enormous black and white checkered racing flag. Confetti fell over the stage and those closest to it, adding to the party atmosphere of a night with classic rockers.
Overall, it was a great night of music, from fun R & B party hits of Kool & The Gang to the hard rock of Van Halen.