Roth hot, Hagar solid in Van Halen classics

June 03, 2002

June 3, 2002

Roth hot, Hagar solid in Van Halen classics

By David Lindquist

The rock 'n' roll showdown between Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth featured
heavy hits but no defeating blows Sunday night at Verizon Wireless Music

So, because neither of the ex-Van Halen vocalists stumbled, any selection of
a "winner" remains open for debate.

Hagar, who drew the closing assignment for this date on a tour of
alternating headliners, turned in a technically flawless performance and
even brought out Van Halen bass player Michael Anthony on a handful of

Roth delivered sustained thrills and isolated moments of greatness during a
performance dominated by Van Halen classics.

The California band never experienced a downturn with Roth, who subsequently
saw his solo career unravel.
Hagar hit high peaks with Van Halen, but there were diminishing returns
across his 10-year tenure. Still, unlike Roth, Hagar has had a fruitful
career both before and after Van Halen.

The odd couple fits rather easily into a Biblical parable: Roth as the
prodigal son who returns to a big party; Hagar as the steady-working and
less-flashy brother.

Hagar wants to be a party animal, as evidenced by his namesake tequila
breaks, clown wig and onstage cheering sections for fans. But rehearsed
revelry and genuine excitement rarely intersect.

Roth, who last played Indianapolis as a low-key opener for Bad Company in
1999, put a charge in the audience through his physical appearance alone.

He seemed to have stepped directly from 1982 -- rocking a peroxide mane,
black vinyl pants and a shirtless physique that would shame Axl Rose or
Anthony Kiedis.

While the voice came and occasionally went, Roth rebounded with a dream set
list that probably eclipsed what Van Halen played on its "1984" tour.

Consider a finishing sprint that included "Ice Cream Man," "Everybody Wants
Some," "Unchained," "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" and "Jump" in succession.

Unexpected twists defined the Roth era of Van Halen. "Ice Cream Man," as it
warps from acoustic ditty to razor-sharp electric assault. "I'm the One," as
a cocktail of punk rock and vaudeville tossed right over the pop-metal

Hagar's era was one of professional craftsmanship, uplifting lyrics and
salacious innuendo. Minus Eddie and Alex Van Halen, Hagar maintained those
qualities with "Dreams" and "Poundcake."

Even without a clear winner or loser, the night provided plenty to dissect
along personal preferences. In short, Roth was hot and Hagar was solid.
At 5,500, the show attracted virtually the same size of audience that showed
up for Van Halen's post-Hagar tour stop in 1998.