Like the frame of a painting, Van Halen's basic rock 'n' roll encompasses the best and worst efforts of the painters involved. Drummer Alex Van Halen and bassist Michael Anthony are the solid rhythmic frames, guitar wizard Eddie Van Halen is the pure composition and singer David Lee Roth is the color. Or perhaps the off-color, since the lithe Roth prances about the stage like an electric centaur and sounds not unlike a basso pig being led to slaughter. David the Terrible may not sing any better than Genghis can, but he's a dynamic front man whose leaps and bounds suggest a career in volleyball or with the Rockettes when the band's audiodeliquency is over.
Of course, Van Halen would be average metal merchants were it not for Eddie Van Halen, possibly the best rock guitarist since Jimi Hendrix and certainly the most influential in the last five years. Not only is he as fast as the speed of loud, he's also consistently innovative, coaxing from his guitar dazzling single-note runs, haunting harmonics, gutty growls, ecstatic moans and chunky boogie riffs. Eddie Van Halen, much copied but not yet surpassed, serves as the perfect balance to Roth's raucous rant and roll, and the 17,000 shocked troops at the Capital Centre seemed to love them equally.
The band ran through a long set punctuated by its own hits ("Runnin' With the Devil," "Dance the Night Away" and a too fast "Jamie's Cryin' "), heartfelt but awry covers of songs by the Dave Clark Five, Kinks, Roy Orbison, and Sons of the Pioneers, boring bass and drum solos, terrific lighting effects, generally high spirits and unbounded energy. The show will more or less be repeated tonight.