Van Halen Comes to West Palm Beach With Wolfgang on Bass

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You may have heard that the greatest rock 'n' roll band to ever exist, Van Halen (duh), is on tour again and has been decimating venues around the country for the lion's share of the summer.

The promotional powers that be have deemed South Florida — generally starved for A-list shows of this nature due to its distance from the rest of the continent (and society, really) — due for an opportunity to dance the night away and experience a loss of control with Eddie, Alex, Diamond Dave, and, um... Wolfgang.

Now, we're trying to keep things positive here. We'll ignore the completely unnecessary and venomous tirade Eddie Van Halen went on in the press earlier this year regarding former bandmate and well-documented nice dude Michael Anthony. ("Every note Mike ever played, I had to show him how to play," EVH said. "He's not a singer. He just has a range from hell.") We'll give a pass to the blatant nepotism that placed Wolfgang Van Halen (an innocent party, of course) in Anthony's former place in 2006, when the kid was 16 years old. We're stoked to see Van Halen on the road again! We're stoked to see them firing on all cylinders! And the truth is Wolfgang, now age 24, has done some good for team Van Halen beyond holding down the post that rightfully belongs to Michael Anthony. As a matter of fact, Wolfie has been responsible for coming up with the band's set lists since he joined the group, and the sets on this particular tour have been absolutely brimming with killer deep cuts.

In preparation for the impending Van Halen bacchanal at the former Cruzan Amphitheatre, now known as the Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre, we thought we would help you look like a real fan by going over a few of our favorite Van Halen deep album obscurities that have been making set appearances recently. Don't forget to brush up on those lyrics, and restring your air guitar.

"Light Up the Sky": The band has recently been opening its shows with this high-octane romp off of Van Halen II, and we feel it's an absolutely perfect opening statement for the current iteration of Van Halen. Between the big vocal harmonies, a hyper-speed guitar solo, and even a drum break, this track has everything necessary for VH to assert beyond any doubt that it remains a force to reckon with. It's also quite a hyphy number, as the kids say.

"Somebody Get Me a Doctor": Another cut from arguably the best album in the discography, Van Halen II, this one will be interesting to catch live, as it features some of the wildest vocalizations David Lee Roth ever unleashed in its recorded form. We're curious to see how Diamond Dave handles this number's squeals and squalls live with his current vocal limitations.

"I'll Wait": This is a really weird choice for the band, as it's a midtempo track from the synth-era album 1984 that relies almost entirely on a sonic bedrock of synthesizers, save for one of Eddie Van Halen's most melodic guitar solos ever. However, Eddie has written a full guitar part to play for this song live, and we'd watch it for that alone.

"Dirty Movies": One of the most animated (if sleaziest) Van Halen songs of all time, "Dirty Movies" is a testament to the subtle side of Eddie Van Halen's guitar prowess/genius, with its languid, graceful, melodic lead line, void of any of Eddie's speedy pyrotechnics. Somehow, it sounds as if Eddie's guitar is stripping along with the song's unfortunate subject.

"Romeo Delight": One of the most dynamic songs in the entire Van Halen discography, this track, pulled from Women and Children First, is an absolute corker that sees Roth at his most exuberant, Eddie at his most technical, and has the built-in potential for some insane, improvised instrumental athletics with its big instrumental breaks.

Van Halen

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 15, at Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $38 to $175. Visit ticketmaster.com.

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