Hagar Bests Roth in Pavilion Show

June 19, 2002

June 19, 2002

Hagar Bests Roth in Pavilion Show

By Leanne Potts
Of the Journal

And the winner is ... Sammy Hagar.

In the battle of the ex-Van Halen frontmen, Hagar left David Lee Roth in the

Hagar's voice, which could probably break beer glasses in the next county,
sounds as good as it did 20 years ago.

As for Roth: Dave, call Eddie and beg him to take you back.

The two have taken turns opening on the tour; at the Journal Pavilion in
Albuquerque, it was Hagar's turn.

He took the stage wearing baggy yellow surfer shorts and a yellow T-shirt
from his bar in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, which judging from the pre-show
video and numerous on-stage plugs, is a metal Margaritaville.

The set was old school, just Hagar and his four-member band, playing in
front of a video screen and a stack of amps. At either end of the stage was
a bleacher section of fans; one of the fans was none other than Gov. Gary
Johnson. Hagar pointed out the governor about 10 minutes into his 75-minute
"Anybody that wants to legalize dope is all right with me," Hagar said,
embracing Johnson. The crowd of about 8,000 went wild.

Later in the show, Hagar asked the governor, "Gary, are you holding? You got
any on you, brother?"

Hagar, 54, looks 20 years younger. He still belts out gleefully mindless,
pop-tinged metal tunes about cars and girls like someone who genuinely
enjoys his work.

He sprinted around the stage like a teen-ager and during one song went down
to mingle with the fans in the first few rows.

Hagar played songs spanning his 30-year career. There was solo Sammy: "Heavy
Metal," "Three Lock Box," "There's Only One Way to Rock," and, of course, "I
Can't Drive 55." There was Van Hagar Sammy: "Why Can't This Be Love." There
was even Montrose Sammy: "Rock Candy."

Roth, 46, came on stage in a blue lamé suit so tight it looked painted on.
He opened with a pair of tunes from his apogee as Van Halen's frontman, "Hot
for Teacher" and "Panama."

He then ran through VH classics like "Cradle Will Rock," "Mean Streets,"
"You Really Got Me" and "Dance the Night Away." He was accompanied by three
musicians who did a pale impersonation of his former VH bandmates. There was
none of the onstage acrobatics from his VH days and Roth's voice has lost
its over-the-top power completely.

Despite this, the crowd cheered more loudly for Roth than for Hagar. This
could because opening acts always get tepid receptions, even if they are
Sammy Hagar. But the more likely reason is because for men (and some women)
of a certain age, Dave was once a god, hurling pop metal and attitude and
sex from the stage like lightning bolts.

Remember him that way.