If last week’s concert was a competition between the two most-famous Van Halen frontmen, I’d have to say “Red Rocker” Sammy Hagar edged out “Diamond” David Lee Roth by a mere fraction of a point.
The crowd went wild when Sammy Hagar first stepped on stage last Tuesday night at the Journal Pavilion. Wearing bright yellow beach-wear with shorts sporting his own “Cabo Wabo” brand Tequila logo, Hagar lured the crowd with his first few songs.
With as much energy as he had 30 years ago with Montrose, Hagar ran around the stage belting out song after song. He played songs spanning from “Heavy Metal” and “Three Lock Box” to “There’s Only One Way to Rock” and, of course, “I Can’t Drive 55.”
At either end of the stage were screaming fans on bleachers, cheering Hagar on. One of the fans was none other than Governor Gary Johnson.
At one point during the concert, Hagar ran up the bleachers and introduced the governor. Sammy asked Johnson, “Gary, are you holding?” The crowd went ballistic. The “Red Rocker” then handed the governor a margarita, which Johnson politely gave back, saying he didn’t drink.
Hagar jokingly said, “You don’t drink, but you’re in favor of legalizing drugs.”
One of the best moments in last week’s concert was when Hagar sang, “Eagles Fly.” As dusk began to settle, Hagar’s voice melted the crowd with the hard-rocking ballet.
Even though the 54-year-old veteran rocker has over 30 years of experience in the heavy metal business, his stage-presence never showed his age. His interaction with the crowd of about 10,000 clearly displayed his love of music and entertainment.
When David Lee Roth walked on stage, I was amazed at how old this one-time sex symbol looked. I worried that his receding hairline and worn face were signs he had lost his edge. I was wrong.
Although Dave’s high-flying kicks weren’t as high-flying as they once were and his signature “Spread Eagle” was more like two people trying to break a wishbone, his charismatic smile, skillful voice and his ever-so-racy stage-presence brought the crowd to their feet as soon as he strutted on stage.
The 46-year-old Roth came on stage wearing a skin-tight blue suit, brandishing a bottle of Jack Daniels. He warmed up the ever-so-excited crowd with a pair of Van Halen hits, “Hot for Teacher” and “Panama.”
Other tunes that got the crowd riled up were “Dance the Night Away,” “Cradle Will Rock,” and “You Really Got Me.” Although his voice wasn’t as powerful as I remembered it when “Diamond” Dave was in his prime, his range was just as compelling.
The satisfaction of seeing the “Red Rocker” and “Diamond” Dave on the same stage was as thrilling as seeing them when both were in their prime. Depending on which Van Halen frontman was their favorite, each and every fan walked away with a grin of amazement from seeing these two performers belting out their hits.
Even though these two larger-than-life men rocked alone, think of how great it would have been if they had shared at least one moment on stage together. Now that would have been a sight to see.