On this date in history, 4/29/1979, my mind was literally blown out of my skull as I witnessed the mighty Van Halen for the first time! This show took place in my so called “home away from home”, the fabled Market Square Arena, in downtown Indianapolis.
I was 17 years old at the time of this sensational show, and the impact it had on me was colossal. I had just discovered the band the previous year, along with literally every other guitar player on the planet.
Eddie Van Halen’s playing style was seismic…like an earthquake powerful enough to separate the state of California from the rest of the states. To my delight, he was even better live, careening around the stage with this big, goofy look of pure joy on his face throughout the entire show.
His brother Alex brought the thunder with his massive drum kit, Michael Anthony kept the bass lines simple, but solid as granite. He also provided those sky high, crystal clear harmony vocals on all those infectious choruses.
David Lee Roth was the quintessential lead singer sex symbol…strutting and striking all the right poses, telling stories and cracking jokes between songs, leaping off the drum riser in martial arts fearlessness; all while screaming like a banshee and singing those clever lyrics that his replacement, Sammy Hagar, could never match in a million years.
Van Halen II was their current album, and it provided some new classics for their arsenal. The song “Light Up The Sky” was a particular crowd favorite, as the whole band participated in a group drum solo near the song’s conclusion.
Eddie’s long solo spot in the show had everyone’s jaws dropping and eyes bulging as we tried to take in all the incredible playing and seemingly endless supply of cool tricks the man was capable of conjuring from his trademark striped Kramer guitars. Oh yes, there was a forgettable opening act, one Robert Fleischman.
Little did I know at the time I would see VH 4 more times in the next few years and 2 things remained consistent…Van Halen’s badassery and their opening band’s lameness.
Apparently, Van Halen was not concerned with being challenged. That is a minor complaint, because I always got my money’s worth at a Van Halen show. If you never saw them, I truly feel sorry for you!
Written By Braddon S. Williams aka The Concert Critic