Former Van Halen Lead Singers Hit the Road

May 30, 2002

Former Van Halen Lead Singers Hit the Road and Share the Stage
by John Soeder
Plain Dealer Pop Music Critic

They have next to nothing in common, other than the fact that they did
separate stints handling lead vocals for Van Halen.

So what are Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth doing together on the road?

On some level, they're probably eager to stick it to their ex-bandmates. But
Hagar and Roth seemed even more intent on upstaging each other when they
launched a 21-date national tour last night at Blossom Music Center.

They each had 90 minutes to strut their stuff in front of 6,000 fans.
Compared with these two hard-rocking rivals, Mike Tyson and Evander
Holyfield are old pals.

Hagar, 54, went on first. He got down to business with a lesser-known blast
from his solo past, "Red."

"Top of the World," "Why Can't This Be Love" and the twangy "Finish What Ya
Started" were among the highlights from his Van Halen days. Hagar dipped
deep into his solo catalog, too, dusting off "Three Lock Box," the power
ballad "Give to Live" and his pedal-to-the-metal anthem "I Can't Drive 55."

He was accompanied by the Waboritas, featuring guitarist Victor Johnson,
keyboard player Jesse Harms, bassist Mona (just Mona, thanks) and drummer
David Lauser.

Hagar's voice soared during "Eagles Fly," although he was straining a bit by
the time he wound down with "Dreams" and "Right Now."

"Are we having fun yet?" the eager-to-please Hagar asked from time to time.
His bright yellow T-shirt read: GOT TEQUILA?

He was full of bonhomie. His co-headliner, on the other hand, was full of
himself - in a most entertaining way.

The 46-year-old Roth literally jump-started his performance with a swinging
version of "Hot for Teacher," punctuated with plenty of his trademark karate
kicks. He was lucky he didn't split his form-fitting golden pants.
His equally tight backing trio included drummer Ray Luzier, bass player
James Lomenzo and guitar ace Brian Young, who turned in a reasonable
facsimile of Eddie Van Halen's signature "Eruption" solo and had legions of
grown men playing air guitar along with faithful renditions of "Panama,"
"Unchained," "Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love" and other Van Halen favorites.

Roth proved he's still one of rock 'n' roll's greatest hams.

"At this point in time, the devil should be runnin' with me," he said by way
of introducing "Runnin' with the Devil." Satan would've been hard-pressed to
keep up.

Roth pulled out all the stops for "Jump," during the tune's piped-in
synthesizer solo.

Hagar had an edge in the vocals department. Roth was the better showman.
Unfortunately, they couldn't put aside their differences long enough to team
up for even one duet.

Ain't talkin' 'bout love, indeed. All the same, you had to love this clash
of two titans.