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Ghost Canyon

Concert Reviews
David Lee Roth
(Freedom Hill, Sterling Heights, MI – Sunday, July 6th)

Walking out on stage with a grin so plastered on his face you could have sworn he had just previously sat on an unfriendly, and therein angry porcupine, the self-proclaimed master of musical ceremonies rides the waves of rapturous applause looking like the cat that got the cream! With his acrobatic leaps, long mane of blond hair, and skintight spandex outfits, David Lee Roth was an integral part of Van Halen's meteoric rise to global dominance from 1978 through 1984. But, tonight, let’s just say if there was a plot to be had for the evening, Roth had clearly lost it early on!

Swathed in ‘slimming’ black, [including leather pants that suggested more than a hint of ‘dressed-to-the-left’ bulge!] the Ringmaster general took the first song ’Hot For Teacher’ by the scruff of the neck, before entering into ’Beach Dreams’. Whereupon he decided in his wisdom to literally ‘shake & spray’ an entire bottle of Jack Daniels over the first ten rows! Quite clearly, any plot had already been lost even at this early stage! ’Just Like Paradise,’ ‘Running With The Devil’ and a amalgamation of both ’Eruption’ [”Does that sound familiar?”, Roth asks the baying crowd] and ’You Really Got Me’ are all top quality, yet his incessant need to lyrically ramble aimlessly between songs quickly served as yet another of his downfalls. ”The humidity is playing hell with my vocals already,” he states. And, although in all probability, it’s more likely to be the years of excessive alcohol and drugs that have done that deed long before tonight’s performance, this is a running theme of absolution for the ‘star.’

As his peroxide blonde hair blows gently in the nights outside draft, Roth swirls his purple scarf above his head in readiness to introduce the band! Somewhat early in the night for such an event usually, it is again made clear that Roth has lost all forms of any plot! Then, like a drunken circus act trying desperately to talk his way out of a late night driving ticket, Roth begins lyrically mumbling and rambling once more! This time he catches a front row lady in his stare: ”I have a great band, a great tour, a great new record and life is just great right now. Why don’t you come back to my hotel room after the show and f**k up my entire life?!”, he asks her. The man is a class act for sure, but upon receiving no hint of appreciation from the lady in question, then proceeds to make a public announcement: ”I’m Toastmaster General for the Immoral Majority!” Again, any plot has been long since been lost!

’Califonia Girls’ [complete with scantily-clad females video accompaniment] is brought to the fore, with ’Somebody Get Me A Doctor,’ ‘Cradle Will Rock,’ ‘Just A Gigolo,’ [”You MUST know this one”, Roth exclaims], and ’Unchained’ from Fair Warning following close behind. In fact, it’s at just this point that midway through the song some mysterious video of Roth performing karate and such takes everyone by surprise! Mainly, due to the fact that it blatantly has no correlation whatsoever to the music or anything going on that night! Other video extravaganza’s of delusional wonderment include three women dressed as Playboy bunnies and two others dressed as sexy fighter-pilots being chased through underground tunnels by Army personnel with guns!! Bizarre, to say the very least. Again, plot lost, me thinks!

Still drinking from his new bottle of Jack Daniels, the appropriately-titled ’Crazy From The Heat’ is sung next – or at least, partially sung as Roth actually forgets a whole set of lyrics!! Covering up the mistake with a cheesy trademark grin, he carries on regardless ending the song with ”Goodnight. Thank you all.” Trouble is, he never leaves stage, the band just look round at each other and Diamond Dave starts rambling about his new album [Diamond Dave] and how we should all call our radio stations to request the first sure-to-underachieve single from it, ’Shoo Bop’!

As we head into the final straight, Roth takes his arrogance up one notch higher: ”Whenever I’m in town, I ALWAYS get my theme song played”! Then, as he turns to face the crowd, the theme from ‘Shaft’ comes across the stage! [Yeah, he WISHES he was ‘Shaft’!!!!] Luckily, we can’t get into full laughter before he breaks into ’Panama’ and ’Dance The Night Away.’ Claiming, as he disturbingly turns and shakes his rubbery bon-bons to us all, that ”… Ricky Martin ain’t got nothing on this white boy, baby” Roth then thanks us all very much, before coming back out to play ’Yankee Rose’. Quoting his personal benediction that ”My country has purple hills” [I know, but don’t ask!], he then rolls into a lackluster version of ’Icecream Man’ before ending the night on both ’Everybody Wants Some’ and ’Jump’.

As the song comes to an end, Roth does two things out of the blue – one highly impressive the highly sad! Firstly, he impressively twirls this long, silver baton around like he was trying to audition for the LA Lakers Cheerleaders, but then he takes to the drum kit stand and brings the show to a close with a once-trademark leap and mid-air leg split! Although, this time around he kinda looks more like a fat, drunken, older man trying to do the same impression at his Fourth of July BBQ in Allen Park in front of his grandma and her 16 year-old partially blind Labrador! ”Thank you very much. God Bless America” are his last words of the night as he walks off stage, grin still embedded, hair statically charged, pants barely able to now contain the small roll of wet socks he has down in his crotch area! What a night! What a night! And so, to summarize the whole night’s events, my dear friend Michael Seeds leans over to me as we are leaving and says: ”I’ve been relatively entertained by him tonight!” Ahh, at long last, the plot has been found!

Photos and Review by Russell A. Trunk