I believe that much tension was created in the great split between Sammy Hagar and the mighty Van Halen. Tension...tension for the fans, and tension for the members of Van Halen. Sammy Hagar used much of that tension to create an album of intense, heartfelt music..full of high and low extremes. I felt this intensity carried through in his stage presence. He sang like the angry poet, yet at the same time a heartfelt nostalgia for his past was exhibited throughout his set.
He has said many times before that his music should make you feel better. Uplifting and powerful songs are the result. He opened his set with Marching to Mars, a song of his state of mind - in which we are all moving on to a new destination. This was the perfect piece to bring everyone into his world - a strong marching beat, with piercing vocals drawing you in. The sound mix was perfect, and all of a sudden, all of us in the crowd had forgotten about our real lives, our troubles..and we were far away on some desert island paradise. Once there he launched into the strong, straight up in your face song "There's Only One Way to Rock". We could hear, quite clearly that the Red Rocker had returned.
After this intro we were guided on a trip all the way through Mr. Hagar's musical history. With experienced ease, Sammy covered the stage, puttting motions and dances to all his music, and stayed down to earth by talking to the crowd as if they were all long-time buddies. (See below for more details) He actually looked out into the audience and responded to them throughout the show. For a quiet breakdown, after the first half of the set, Sammy took everything down a bit to share some of the secrets of his songs with us. We were then treated to a little stage show by Sammy, instructing us in the ways of mixing drinks, a truly invaluable skill. After that, the show went on a straight build up of intensity all the way up to the end, when he played some of his strongest songs in a blast of power that would make your head spin.
All in all it was a great show, even though some favorites played at other shows were missing, such as Kama and Eagles Fly. One great moment of the night came when Sammy had the radio contest winners on stage, and he looked down into the crowd at a small kid staring right at him. He motioned to the guard to help the kid up on stage, and gave him a pick. Then, as the final song was playing, the kid grabbed Sammy's leg, and motioned him down towards the audience where his twin brother was standing. Sammy smiled, reached down, and helped the other brother up on stage, and gave him a High 5. Just plain, simple, down to earth kindness..that's the impression Sammy Hagar gives off to people, yet at the same time he gives great heart and soul to his music... The result made for a very memorable show. 10/10 (alex j.)
Highlights of Sammy's Crowd Interaction in DC:
* There was a picture drawn by a child that was thrown on stage. Sammy read and described it to the crowd. It was a guy holding a guitar singing into a microphone. Sammy grinned enormously and remarked how it was cool that "even the kiddies" liked his music.
* Before the accoustic version of RIGHT NOW, Sammy told memories of writing that song. He described how everyone else had gone home, leaving he and Eddie alone in the 5150 studio. Eddie was playing piano in the other room, and Sammy heard the now familiar "hook" - Immediate inspiration! Sammy said he sat there writing as Eddie was pounding out the tune in another room. It was apparent that he was recalling the event with fondness - a magic memory from better days with Ed.
* Victor was suffering from a sore throat during the show. Sammy ragged on him constantly, warning Victor......."You better not give ME that sh*t!"
* A banner was thrown on stage addressed to Sammy and David Lauser - but it only said, "TO SAMMY AND DAVE". Sammy joked, "Hey you guys gotta be more specific with this stuff. I don't want to be connected to THAT guy!! He's got his own problems!"
* Someone tossed a joint on stage. It was soon followed by a lighter that missed the mark. Sammy said, "I heard it hit!" When he found it, he lit up and took a puff. The crowd went wild! He responded, "But I didn't inhale!!!" which ellicited an even greater crowd response. Sammy kept on smiling, commenting on how he had better be careful around here (DC) because he's never said anything good about this president. He also asked us if he got arrested, if we would come picket the place! Tremendous crowd support was displayed!
Thanks to Maria Hanavan and Alex Jamal for this review!