Van Halen @ Madison Square Garden (3/1/2012)

The Mighty Van Halen were back on tour and supporting a brand new album entitled “A Different Kind Of Truth” and tonight they would be bringing down the house for all their fans at a sold out Madison Square Garden. The band actually had also played a couple of days ago and in case you wondered that event was also long sold out. Good for them but bad for folks like myself who did not actually find themselves with a ticket to enjoy the festivities. I did manage to secure a photo pass which meant that I would see as many songs as would be allowed for the media and then that was it. This is the real way that it works though my friends as I documented in full in my slightly whimsical METALLICA REVIEW from a few years ago. Click the logo below to indulge in my concert thoughts and then swing back here to see some side images that are only here.

van halen logo

Artist: Van Halen
Venue: Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)
Opener: Kool and The Gang
Date: 3/1/2012
Label: Interscope Records

Since Internet attention is as fleeting as the proverbial speeding bullet I’m going to assume that the readership of the site out in our wonderful Metal Republic do not recall the narrative that I compiled when I attended the Metallica concert at this very same arena. The reason that I bring that particular show up is based on the fact that my Van Halen adventure went down in the very same fashion. I was without a ticket to attend since it was sold out and I had not been able to secure any sort of “media reviewer’s ticket” either but I did have the professional photographers pass. The down side of this would be I was only going to come away with photos and that all depended on the logistics that they put us in. Simply put, this was going to be a very short review summation.

Kool & The Gang: I was not as surprised as some of my other friends were when they announced that Kool & The Gang would be opening up for Van Halen because the band always did seem to bring something out of the ordinary along with them on tour. Great musicians in their own right of course but not what an ardent fan base of Old School Van Halen were seeking at the end of the day. Despite this, the guys in K&TG hit the stage with a soulful and funky presentation which found those who opted to be here early a very good time. When one considered how expensive these tickets were, I had to admit that I was a little surprised at the minimal audience in place during the first three songs which was what I was actually able to see. We would all get to rock with their opening track of “Fresh” and I had to say that I was impressed at how tight the numerous member group was sounding. This was the most people I had seen on any one stage before and I’ve seen the Grateful Dead over the course of my concert going history. Of course after the three songs were shot my fellow photographers and I were escorted back into the hall off to the side but we could hear the set and it was rather enjoyable. On the way back we passed one Edward Van Halen who was heading to his own dressing room and he seemed amused at how shocked we all were by the chance brief encounter. There are worse things in life right?

Van Halen: Diehard concert goers know full well how the media folks and photographers generally get a few moments in the most hallowed photo pit area of a concert setting. This trench separates the crowd from the band and allows for the security and professionals to do their work and then continue on along with the night. Tonight this would not be the case and those media capturing folks would be way back at the sound board which was going to test the extremes of my gear but to make matters worse we had to stand on the ground level of the arena floor as opposed to higher above the hands of the audience. Sigh. When Van Halen hit the stage a surge of music loving energy hit me because this was one of my very top three bands and a group who I have loved for decades. In my opinion they could do no wrong and while I knew their set tonight would be peppered with some tunes from their “A Different Kind Of Truth” CD, it was clear that the audience would be treated to more than their fill of classics. They opened with “Unchained” and the rousing tune had the entire Garden on their feet. Some fans were running into the seats still and clutching two or three tall beers so they didn’t have to keep going back and forth. It was amusing to see and had I been a part of the general populace myself I think that I would have done the same.

van halen, van halen live photos
Van Halen by Ken Pierce (2012)

Front man, emcee and carnival barker for the evening’s proceedings Mr. David Lee Roth was on point and a big smile from ear to ear while Eddie Van Halen brought us back to our youth with the styling on his guitar. Alex Van Halen had a large but seemingly more sensible kit than I recalled him being behind. Granted it was massive in scope but there were not as many things all around it. When I played many years ago he was an influence to me so I guess the change rang like an alarm bell in my head as I recalled being a teenager again. Now the larger contention that many fans have been having with Van Halen was that the young Wolfgang Van Halen was now on bass in place of Michael Anthony but you know I had to say this about the kid……he was kicking ass both musically and vocally and appeared to be delivering all the high notes that we liked from Michael. Sadly my concert analysis would end with the next tune from their new album in “She’s A Woman” and this tune really rocked. The new CD was actually a trick on the listener because the premiere tune of “Tattoo” was horrific and scared many fans to the bands ability to deliver a new release to them. Fortunately the rest of the album kicked ass but you will have to learn the remaining thoughts by reading the full on review on the website. From here the media people were escorted out and I mean right back to the door that we came in from and while it sucked to me as a fan I was able to enjoy most of the same show on that very night. Not too sure how that happened but I will take it.

That being said, it’s all I had to offer up and sometimes this is the way that it rolls in the professional circles and you just have to grin and bear it. Don’t feel bad for me at all because my next few days will feature shows by Y&T, Deicide and Possessed (and that is only the upcoming weekend). My narrative was done to give you the few photos I had and the set list that I knew was performed along with some insight. I did enjoy what I managed to see but fear my images were not as good as they could have been under the conditions that were set upon us. You needed a cannon sized lens to get anything worthy and I certainly didn’t have that. Any rich site readers who do wish to upgrade our level of gear can easily reach us of course 

Full Kool and The Gang Photo Gallery:
Full Van Halen Photo Gallery:

Kool & The Gang Set List:
1. Fresh
2. Tonight
3. Emergency
4. Misled
5. Too Hot
6. Hollywood Swingin’
7. Jungle Boogie
8. Ladies’ Night
9. Get Down On It
10. Celebration

VH Set List:
1. Unchained
2. Running With the Devil
3. She’s the Woman
4. The Full bug
5. Tattoo
6. Everybody Wants Some
7. Somebody Get Me A Doctor
8. China Town
9. Hear About it Later
10. Oh, Pretty Woman
11. Drum Solo
12. You Really Got Me
13. Trouble With Never
14. Dance the Night Away
15. I’ll Wait
16. Hot For Teacher
17. Women In Love
18. Outta Love Again
19. Beautiful Girls
20. Ice Cream Man
21. Panama
22. Eddie’s Solo
23. Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love
24. Jump

There is nothing like seeing one of your favorite bands names with the words “Sold Out” next to it on a concert marquee. Of course if you are one of the aforementioned not attenders then this is not too much fun to see unless you want to deal with the slimy scalpers. I shot the marquee for your out of town visitors to see the most. Two of them even. How’s that for effective…..



Given the situation I was not able to get any merchandise or fan shots since once inside we were ensconced in a hallway waiting to be brought out to shoot photos. I did however snap this one and felt it was pretty cool. Before you ask, the answer is no. None of us actually met David Lee Roth even though this sign was pointed to a room not too far down the corridor. We did get to give the thumbs up to the members of Kool and The Gang as they returned to their dressing room and that was rather nice as well.


As I mentioned in the longer narrative on the core site, don’t worry that I had not been able to see this whole thing in person. I had back to back other concerts to enjoy and bring to your attention and could hardly wait to do that stuff for the betterment of Metalkind.

Official Website:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.