David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar
CLEVELAND FREE TIMES
June 5-11, 2002
David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar
Blossom Music Center | Wednesday, May 29
The David Lee Roth/Sammy Hagar concert was promoted more like a wrestling
match than a rock 'n' roll concert. Even before the start of the tour (which
kicked off at Blossom), you had Dave and Sammy on Howard Stern throwing more
mud than a monster truck rally and fueling rumors that the tour won't last,
not because of low attendance but because of conflict between the two
ex-Halen vocalists. In true Sam vs. Dave fashion, we've got two reviews, one
that scores Roth the winner and one that gives the nod to Hagar.
Pro-Roth: His voice might have sounded good and his band might have played
well, but Sammy Hagar gave off a Jimmy Buffett vibe (Hawaiian shirts, clown
wigs and tequila) that forced me back to the VIP section and the coveted
As a kid, I always loved David Lee Roth-era Van Halen, but because of a
punk-rock allegiance, I never had the balls to go see the band when Diamond
Dave was at the helm. So now, a little more than two decades later, I
finally got my chance to see Diamond Dave.
And I was totally stoked. He came wearing gold pants and sporting his
trademark long blond hair. He immediately showed off a few martial arts
kicks. The set consisted almost entirely of classic Halen songs. Still the
Vegas showman, he put on an amazing show. Not as perfect as Hagar's band,
his group still played well. "Unchained" felt a bit rushed, but the rest of
the material was delivered precisely. The pavilion was packed and the crowd
ate up every minute of Roth's antics. For an encore, he played 1984's "Jump"
and proved all skeptics wrong by doing all the patented stage moves, even
leaping off the drums with that famous splitso jump. Age has not yet got the
best of Double D. -- Jack McLimans
Pro-Hagar: Sammy Hagar is a ham. During his 90-minute performance, he drank
margaritas, smashed a piñata made to look like a bottle of tequila, and
flirted with a waitress who came out to bring him cold beverage after cold
beverage. As entertainment, it's low-IQ stuff -- silly, stupid and sexist.
But it also set the bar high for Roth, the original Van Halen vocalist whom
Hagar replaced in 1985.
While Roth had all the best tunes to play (early Halen is hands-down
better), Hagar came out victorious in this battle of egos. Part of the
reason Hagar was better was simply because of his track record. He fronted
Montrose in the '70s, started a solo career, joined Van Halen, and then
returned to his solo career. He's been steadily performing since the '70s.
Roth's solo career never amounted to anything, and he hasn't played
regularly in years.
And it showed. Hagar's band flawlessly played everything from solo hits such
as "Mas Tequila" and "I Can't Drive 55" to Halen songs such as "Finish What
Ya Started." By the time the set ended with a flurry of confetti, Hagar had
made his point. He might not be able to do karate kicks, but his showmanship
is derived from the music, not the dance moves. And the clincher? Hagar
doesn't wear a wig. -- Jeff Niesel