Van Halen jumps back into recording, touring

New York

They’ll be playing arenas when they tour next month, but a regrouped Van Halen provided thrills Thursday night in a tiny club where a VIP crowd stood elbow to elbow as the storied band played some of its top hits, including “Jump” and “Panama.”

“Welcome to Occupy Van Halen, ladies and gentleman!” singer David Lee Roth yelled just before the band launched into “You Really Got me,” the first in an approximately hour-long, high-energy set.

The show was at the famed Cafe Wha? in new York’s West Village – a club owned by Manny Roth, the uncle of the singer.

The band will soon be playing Madison Square Garden and other venues like it, as it kicks off a nationwide tour next month. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers start the tour in Louisville, Ky., on Feb. 16, and will tour through June, hitting Boston, Atlanta and Chicago. In the Bay Area, they’re set for Oakland Arena on June 3 and HP Pavilion in San Jose on June 5.

The band will also be promoting an album to be released Feb. 7, “A different Kind of Truth,” the group’s first album with Roth since its celebrated album “1984,” released that year.

Van Halen has gone through plenty of changes since then. Roth left the band for a solo career and was replaced with Sammy Hagar in a messy breakup; he later returned to the band as Hagar exited in a split that had just as much discord. Gary Cherone, former lead singer for Extreme, served briefly as vocalist. There would be more turmoil as bassist Michael Anthony was replaced a few years ago with Wolfgang Van Halen, the son of guitar great Eddie Van Halen.

But it was all smiles Wednesday, as father and son, along with Eddie’s brother and drummer Alex, were on hand as the reconstituted group played a warm-up of sorts before the nationwide tour, their first together in almost four years.

“This has been a really long time coming,” Roth told the audience.

Roth joked about the small size of the club: “The last time I stood on a stage this low, I had to get the car home by midnight.”

Roth’s uncle Manny, 92, was in the audience, sitting next to John McEnroe, one of several luminaries in the crowd.

“It’s come full circle,” a beaming David Lee Roth said amid the audience’s cheers.

Tickets for the Live Nation-promoted tour go on sale beginning next Saturday at ticketmaster.com and livenation.com. Local on-sales will be announced later.

This article appeared on page E – 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Van Halen jumps back into recording, touring


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