I am pretty certain that I have not been to a metal-rock concert since 1994, when Aerosmith played the Civic Centre with Collective Soul as the opening act. And up until yesterday, I had no intention of breaking my otherwise seamless record of avoiding “noise acts” in hockey arenas and football stadiums. In the end, however, after giving it extra consideration and in the interest of surprising DS14, whose heavy-metal music idols are Ozzy Osbourne and Van Halen, I went to the Ottawa-Gatineau Kijiji Web site in search of two “last-minute” Van Halen tickets. The woman who sold them to me listed them at a loss to her of $50 on each ticket. I ended up paying $200 for 200-level seats, which was and is about as high in elevation as I ever want to sit in Scotiabank Place (thank you very much, vertigo). It is also, unfortunately, a vantage point that does not allow for the greatest blog-worthy Android concert photos, a detail that requires more of my attention in future.
Truth be known, I was there as much for the opening act, Kool & The Gang, as I was for the headliners. In terms of overall musical appreciation, I raised myself to adulthood on classic funk, soul, and R&B, from James Brown to most of the Motown greats to “disco” to Barry White and back again. (Yes, there was some New Wave ’80s stuff in there too, and some heavier rock. I have never been anything if not eclectic.) So I suppose you could say that seeing both K&TG and Van Halen perform live were two lines I could strike off my bucket list.
I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed by K&TG’s performance, although I was a bit embarrassed by the suggestive call-and-response tactics from the stage to the “sexy Canadian ladies,” especially considering that Scotiabank Place was still fairly empty when the band took the stage at 7:30 p.m. The only song I wish they had played during their set was “Open Sesame,” which was a highlight of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack for me; but I still sang along with them and shook my groove thing (well, as much as I could in the 200-level with both vertigo and people sitting on either side of me) during such classics as “Fresh,” “Jungle Boogie,” “Ladies’ Night,” “Get Down On It,” and “Celebration.” Even my son the wannabe rocker had to admit that he liked K&TG’s groove and energy, which is still going strong after nearly 50 years, multiple awards, and upwards of 70 million albums sold.
After watching the Van Halen roadies mop down the stage and strategically place large wooden floor tiles for what turned out to be a dance floor for “Diamond” David Lee Roth, I went out to get an overpriced hot dog and a Diet Coke and came back just in time to see DS14 up and on his feet for Van Halen’s opening song, “Unchained,” from their album Fair Warning. I have to say that regardless of whether it was the sound quality in Scotiabank Place or David Lee Roth’s vocals cutting in and out, there was enough of a distraction that I somehow managed not to see Roth dropping trou to reveal a firearm inked on his backside during the song “Tattoo.”
It was also hard for me to accurately decipher the titles and the lyrics for a few of the songs, so it was a huge help that DS14 was there to help me compile the set list. But from where I sat, all three Van Halens and David Lee Roth looked darned good and in sync with each other, and I’ll take 57-year-old Roth’s high kicks and acoustic guitar picking over the four years younger Madonna’s lip-syncing and boy-toy-assisted cartwheels any time. DS14 and I left with raw throats, and slightly hearing-impaired, but I’d do it over again – so let’s hope for everyone’s sake we won’t have to abide another 20-year wait.
Running With The Devil
She’s The Woman
Everybody Wants Some!!
Somebody Get Me A Doctor
Hear About It Later
Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison cover)
**Alex Van Halen featured drum solo**
You Really Got Me (The Kinks cover)
The Trouble With Never
Dance The Night Away
Hot For Teacher
Women In Love
Girl Gone Bad
Ice Cream Man (John Brim cover)
Eruption (w/ a 6-minute Eddie guitar solo)
Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love