“REAL HEAVY METAL”
BY JIM MILLICAN
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, CANADA
SEPTEMBER 24, 1979
“HELLO!!! FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER IN MANITOBA, THE MIGHTY VAN HALEN” !!!
The cavernous convention Center pulsed with the kind of roar that a
capacity crowd of 6,851 people can create when they’re genuinely enthused and, mixed with the drone of a subsonic band just getting into gear, the, din was incredible.
It was a night of the kind of heavy metal rock that critics love to hate.
The kind of rock that sends album buyers between the ages of 12 and 20 into the stores like swarms of foraging bees whenever a new l.p. of the genre arrives. It really is a kind of teen-aged madness. And last night personified it, “LOOK OUT WINNIPEG, FEELIN’ HOT TONIGHT” was the battle cry of screaming banshee lead singer David Lee Roth, establishing monosyllabic communication that he used to keep things moving throughout the two-hour set.
Along with Roth, Van Halen is music from the lightning quick stainless steel guitar of Eddie Van Halen and the cement mixer rhythm section that features Alex Van Halen and Michael Anthony. Named after the two brothers of Dutch descent the quartet has risen to the top ranks of touring rockers with two successive albums that have sold more than a million copies each. Last night’s show gave every indication of the reason why, Van Halen personifies late-seventies heavy metal rock and, in a very limited way this is a superlative band. The unfortunate fact, is that Van Halen’s idea of superlative deals totally with quantity. They play louder, harder, longer; with more lights, more p.a., more costumes, and more overt grimacing and posturing and leaping about than words can describe. The concept of quality, of any kind of sophistication, either escapes their grasp or is a notion that they wisely disregard given the desires of their chosen audience.
“WINNIPEG, GET DOWN” !!! Roth exhorted at one point, turning the place into a war zone. And the band sledgehammered into another one of very many three-minute attacks on the senses that have led to comparisons with Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep and Ted Nugent. All purveyors of some of the dumbest, stupidest rock that’s ever been made. Van Halen is not afraid to stand up and be dumb.
Most of their tunes were mundane reflections on worn rock topics. The titles told all. “Runnin’ with the Devil”, “Beautiful Girls”, “Spanish Fly”. Only Once, with the unusually cogent “Dance The Night Away” was melody really a factor. That song almost replaced the Kiss anthem “I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night (And Party Every Day) in the hearts of this crowd through the summer.
“CANADA YOU BLOW MY (EXPLETIVE DELETED) MIND, YOU PEOPLE KICK ASS” !!! Was the Rothian tribute that finally had fifty or sixty rows of people scrambling over the top of each other to be a little closer to the action. That’s all it took at that particular moment to fuse a couple of thousand kids that had to get up and go to school today into one roaring beast. Ultimately, more than the music, that was the sight to see.
VAN HALEN DISCOGRAPHY:
1978 Van Halen
1979 Van Halen II
1980 Women and Children First
1981 Fair Warning
1982 Diver Down
1991 For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
1993 Right Here Right Now (Live)
1998 Van Halen III