UPDATE: David Lee Roth required 14 stitches after bloodying his nose in a baton accident on Jimmy Kimmel.
Hollywood Boulevard was shut down last night when Van Halen landed on an outdoor stage to rip through a seven-song set for host Jimmy Kimmel. Very quickly, David Lee Roth spilled some blood.
Beneath the blinking neon of the El Capitan Theater marquee, the veteran hard-rock act erupted with “Panama.” Roth, playing with the group for the first time on national television, gave a high kick and spun a metal staff like a propeller blade. Eddie Van Halen gave him a strange look, and the singer announced he’d cut his nose and left to get it “taped up.” The music didn’t exactly stop, as the guitarist, drummer Alex Van Halen and bassist Wolfgang Van Halen kept the energy up by jamming out the rest of the song. It was a rare chance for fans to see one of rock’s most influential guitarists improvising with abandon, unspooling layers of noise and melody.
Roth returned with his nose bandaged and a roll of duct tape in his hand, strutting to the front of the stage even happier than before: “How do I look? Like fucking Hiawatha, right?”
After another round of “Panama,” Wolfgang walked up to Roth and lifted his bass to pluck the thick opening notes of “Runnin’ With the Devil” until his father cut in with spasms of guitar melody, looking fit and playful in jeans and a black T-shirt.
“How many of you used to see us during the club days?” Roth asked during a frenetic “Hot for Teacher,” his open shirt showing off elaborate Japanese tattoos and a ripped torso. Diamond Dave shimmied and shook, but he replaced the song’s original lustful comments with a reminiscence about the band’s roots in Los Angeles, including nights at the now-defunct Gazzarri’s on the Sunset Strip.
The hometown performance celebrated the release of the Tokyo Dome Live in Concert box set and a U.S. tour that will launch July 5th in Seattle. On October 2nd, it will stop at the Hollywood Bowl just a few blocks away.
Standing in the crowd before the concert, Kimmel looked especially pleased in his suit and tie. “Alright, now I’m excited,” he said. “I’ve never had David Lee Roth mention me before. This is big.” Earlier, he had a roaming camera crew ask fans to show their Van Halen tattoos, and in his opening monologue he joked about the band’s longevity: “You know that teacher they were so hot for? She just went through menopause.”
For the post-broadcast portion of the set, Van Halen tore into the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” with Eddie and Wolfgang purring Beatles-like harmonies. During “Dance the Night Away,” Roth pulled a young woman from the front rows to tango onstage. “Hey, hot stuff,” he said with his gleaming, crazed smile, “you want to dance?”
Eddie Van Halen leaned hard into the riffs of “Unchained” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love” to close the night. Roth, following Kimmel’s lead, turned to the crowd and referenced the band’s staying power: “Like they used to say on Ed Sullivan, ‘If this goes well, we’ve got a great career ahead of us, boys.'”
“Runnin’ With the Devil”
“Hot For Teacher”
“You Really Got Me”
“Dance the Night Away”
“Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love”