A version of my post originally appeared on the Soundcheck blog at ocregister.com.
The Forum in Inglewood erupted Wednesday night with the classic rock of Van Halen for the final concert rehearsal before the Hall of Famers launch a North American tour on Feb. 18 in Louisville, Ky.
They arrive here for two shows at Staples Center, June 1 and 9 at Staples Center in Los Angeles (the latter date goes on sale Saturday at 10 a.m.), a June 12 stop at Honda Center in Anaheim and a June 14 performance at Viejas Arena in San Diego.
The band, alongside lively opener Kool & the Gang (sans original vocalist James “J.T.” Taylor), turned in a 65-minute set in front of a few thousand invited guests. It also served as an unofficial album release party for the engaging A Different Kind of Truth – the first new studio release to feature original vocalist David Lee Roth in 28 years, which came out Tuesday and will debut in Billboard’s Top 3 next week.
Roth, clad in a ringmaster-style jacket at one point, was in good vocal form, though the singer occasionally skipped over lyrics and forgot some on new tune "China Town" (humorously, directing "let's get right to the chorus"). He was the ultimate cordial showman throughout and recalled some regrettable past body ink on the punchy new single “Tattoo” as well as a disastrous SAT test amid “Hot for Teacher.”
Equally giddy guitarist Eddie Van Halen pulled off his various dazzling solos (and one awe-inspiring spotlight) with ease; son Wolfgang acquitted himself well on bass and vocal harmonies. The song order here had been shuffled since the even more exclusive promotional event at Henson Recording Studios last week, with four different tracks swapped in, namely a stellar pair off 1979’s Van Halen II: “Somebody Get Me a Doctor” and “Beautiful Girls.”
The large hi-def screen should allow fans - even at the far end of arenas - on the tour to see with clarity. At the tail end of the gig, Roth waved a huge checked flag and confetti shot over the crowd.
Among the celebs in attendance were Eddie’s ex-wife (and Wolfgang’s mom) Valerie Bertinelli with her Hot in Cleveland TV show co-star Wendie Malick, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and Brad Wilk, John “5″ Lowery (who has played with Roth, Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie) and Kevin Savigar (Rod Stewart’s frequent collaborator).
Setlist: Van Halen at the Forum, Inglewood, Feb. 8, 2012
You Really Got Me / Runnin’ with the Devil / She’s the Woman / Somebody Get Me a Doctor / Tattoo / Everybody Wants Some!! / Beautiful Girls / Ice Cream Man / China Town / Dance the Night Away / Hot for Teacher / Blood and Fire / (guitar solo) / Panama / Jump