Van Halen: Trainwreck kept a rollin

I've been a fan of Van Halen for a long time. Their first album was the first real rock album I ever bought. Once I heard Eddie's work on "Eruption" I was hooked. Ive watched their rise to superstardom and their eventual slide down the other side of the bell curve. Ive followed the departure of Diamond Dave, the ousting of Michael Anthony and the long list of front men trying to fill Dave's shoes as the band struggles to get back on top (yes, that includes Sammy Hagar). I haven't been too excited to hear that Dave is back and the band is on tour again, mostly because it all feels like just a Has-been reunion and a way to make a few more bucks in their retirement years.

But then I saw this clip on youtube of them in a live concert and I lost it:

Now, there are a few things going on here that a lot of people have started speculating about. The first is that it sounds like the keyboards for the song "Jump" are off. WAY off. Some say they were sampled incorrectly at 48K and then played back at 44.1k. Some say that Eddie's guitar tech handed him the wrong guitar that was tuned for a different song, or that somewhere along the way, the guitar dropped out of tune. Maybe the dinky microphone on the cell phone that recorded the clip somehow shifted the tone of the keyboards and its just an anomaly that didnt happen live.

All I know is that after careful analysis using my expert musical/audio technician experience of the six and a half minute cacophonic clusterfuck I can clearly determine one thing: That is one screwed up song.

"warmowoski" over at the blog RW370 has a detailed explanation of the screwed-uppedness and a hypothesis as to why its such a musical trainwreck.

My only questions (and I am certainly not the first person to ask this) is if this really happened, why didnt they stop and try to re-start the number? Why continue to play a song that is so horribly out of tune with itself? Why continue to play a popular hit that many of the thousands of people that flocked to the venue just to see and do it so poorly that they are an embarrassment to themselves. (I mean more so than the brief addition of Gary Cherone)?

My only explanation is that perhaps they didn't hear how bad it was from their monitors. This idea is eliminated because you can hear how Eddie tries to transpose to a different key at the beginning. So maybe its just that they are deaf. Maybe the keyboards were on tracks and there was nothing they could do but to just get through it.

Or maybe they just didnt give a shit.

Either way, we will add this to a growing list of embarrassments for what once was one of the hottest rock bands on the planet.


Anonymous said...

LOOK, things happen in live rock n roll. It is obvious that EVH can still play...His guitar was just 1/2 step flat from the rest of the music... The un-informed don't understand the complexities of lock-down tuning, so he could not just tune it up a half on the the middle of the ENCORE? Maybe he could have grabbed another guitar...but when? What? Stop the encore and start over with a new axe? WOW! This performance will go down as one of "ROCKS BLOOPERS" on some VH1 special...I'm sure they are laughing about it now...but this was pretty ear-wrenching and dissonant...However, once again: THE CROWD DID NOT MIND OR KNOW THE DIFFERENCE, AND LOVED THE PERFORMANCE!

Hey, I'm not a huge VH fan, but I'll give EVH his props...He's a masterful innovater of the electric 6 string--Others that followed just emulated or expanded on his style.But EVH brought the electric guitar back into the forefront of rock; that is until GRUNGE took over and ruined it for everybody!I'm just glad to see them performing again...Even if this was a bit out of tune!

The Judge said...

Well said, but its not Eddie's fault. His guitar sounds in tune with the bass. That leads me to believe that the keyboards were off and not the guitar. Either that, or Wolfgang was trying to help his pop out, but Im not sure.

Still... if the song is not going as planned, STOP and re-start it the right way! I do know a thing or two about live music and this just seems like no one cared enough to restart the number. Eddie should have known better.

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