In the interim, reunion tours for both The Police* and Van Halen were announced, and it’s not possible to find two bands that are more indicative of the Goofus and Gallant school of thought when it comes to rock reunion tours.
On the one hand, you have The Police, who – with the exception of the occasional one-off gigs here and there – haven’t worked together artistically in the past 20 years. They’ve been offered scads of money before, but never saw the need. But at this stage in their respective individual careers, a reunion tour is a challenge, a gauntlet thrown down. With Sting having recorded an album of music on the lute (!!!), it’s a chance for him to prove that old Onion editorial was correct. For Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland, it’s to remind those who’ve forgotten that the band’s artistic success was built on the creative tension that existed between the three of them, and that no matter how things looked on the outside, the entity known as The Police required the efforts of all three. This house, often divided against itself, did stand. Take away any part of the whole … and you have an album of music played on the lute.
The day after my Senior Prom, I – along with my date and some friends – went to Great America. In conversation with the acknowledged Guitar God of our high school, I derisively referred to the band as “Van Hagar,” a slight for which Guitar God took me to task. “C’mon, it’s not like they were ‘Van Roth’ before.” I had no retort.
I thought of this moment when I heard that VH bassist Michael Anthony had been unceremoniously (and if there’s a more apropos adverb for it, I don’t know what it is) booted from the band. Michael Anthony’s crime seems to be having toured with Hagar recently, which is ironic, since Roth famously did the same on the “Sans Halen” tour a few years back.
I thought of that moment again when it was announced that the brothers Van Halen were reuniting with David Lee Roth, with Eddie’s son Wolfgang on bass.
Talk about being careful what you wish for. Even the most strident Sammy Hagar defenders would admit that a tour with Diamond Dave fronting the band would be worth seeing. Since the Roth years of VH, in particular, depended on the thump-thump-thump and “Oooh baby baby” that Anthony brought to the party, this tour’s going to end up like the end of “The Monkey’s Paw,” where the departed relative you wished back to life turns out to be some weird zombie knocking at the door in the middle of the night.
When I see Van Halen, I want some dude (I’m not picky about who so long as he was not at any point affiliated with Nuno Bettencourt) in brightly-colored pants singing about ladies in some fashion. I want two goofy-looking Dutch cats hammering away on the skins and blowing my damn mind on guitar, respectively. And lastly, I want a dude in a mullet, crooning background vocals, and playing something that resembles a bottle of Jack Daniels with strings.
It’s hard to fault Eddie for wanting to spend more time with his kid, but I was pretty sure the rock cognoscenti agreed that making family members a part of the band was a bad idea ever since Paul wanted Linda to join Wings. Recent public appearances by the man seem to confirm that the dude is back on the sauce. He’s acknowledged that when he was heavily hitting the bottle back in the day, Roth would talk him into things he might not have ordinarily thought were a good idea. It’s also pretty clear from Ed’s foray into the world of adult film soundtracks that he’s got a base need to be making music in some fashion, whether or not such ventures have any artistic merit. The last time all three of these elements combined, the band produced “Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now” off Diver Down. So I can’t see how this is anything but a bad idea.
There are plenty of people who argue that nostalgia is the enemy of rock and roll. When something like this Van Halen reunion tour happens, it’s hard to come up with an effective argument. I’m hoping The Police are able to provide one.
Otherwise, we’re going to end up with another album of music on the lute.
* Check that quote from the guy at Pollstar at the end of the AP story. Is that the most depressing thing you’ve ever read in your life?