Van Halen Erupt at Jones Beach, NY 8-13-15 w/ Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Van Halen Erupt at Jones Beach, NY 8-13-15 w/ Kenny Wayne Shepherd

In 2012, the historic Hard Rock group Van Halen unfortunately cancelled their North American Tour in support of the twelfth studio album, A Different Kind of Truth, due to medical issues. Three years later, they recovered, and last Spring it was announced an extensive three month Summer/Fall tour would kick off in July and end in early October at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl. Fans rejoiced, and with that being said, the overwhelming ticket demands led to additional dates, including the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, New York extending to a two night event, August 13th and 15th, 2015. On this muggy Summer evening on Thursday, August 13th, fans cooled down by the beach to experience Night One. As the crowd grew in the tailgating parking lot, a diverse group of fans were noticed. This batch of individuals ranged from Iron Maiden T-shirts, Romantic gatherings, to sisters having a Rock night out, and of course herds of Hard Rockers. One thing that was for sure, they were all there to see one of the most influential bands in Rock-n-Roll history perform, Van Halen, with special guest Kenny Wayne Shepherd to support.

As the crowd slowly walked to their seats, grabbing a drink or a movie theater-esque treat such as Swedish Fish, Blues Rock-Guitarist Extraordinaire, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and his band hit the stage. A distinctive performer who has signed his first record deal at the early age of sixteen, and by the time he was eighteen, the 1995 debut Ledbetter Heights, took off. The multi-Grammy nominee who has reached Platinum status and charismatically made appearances on TV such as Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and David Letterman has also released the latest Goin’ Home in 2014. This Louisianan shined this evening, bringing his acclaimed members, Noah Hunt on vocals, Scott Nelson on bass, Chris Layton on drums and Riley Osbourn on the keyboard along with him.

Opening with the bluesy and nineties nostalgia vibe with “Slow Ride” from 1997’s Trouble Is… , soul was expressed through each guitar riff. Mainly performing older hits, they moved in with the acclaimed “Déjà Voodoo” and “Shame, Shame, Shame.” As more fans discovered their seats, Hunt mentioned how great it was to be there and asked all to sing along to the next, “Blue on Black.” Continuing to warm up the crowd with their majestic rhythm, they flowed in with tracks such as the Slim Harpo cover of “I’m a King Bee” and “Oh Well.” As Shepherd radiated from the stage with his guitar wizardry, he managed to shock all once again when he closed with The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover of “Voodoo Child.”

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While fans had enough time to grab a bite to eat and check out the merchandise, it was time for Van Halen to bring in a larger-than-life killer performance. Van Halen became one of the top bands from the United States of all time, thanks to the co-founders and brothers Eddie Van Halen and Alex Van Halen, who solely remain. Despite the controversial lineup changes and mixups over the years, a peace was formed as original vocalist David Lee Roth officially returned in 2006, making it over a twenty year reunion. Newest and youngest member, Eddie’s son, Wolfgang Van Halen joined on bass in 2006, who replaced Michael Anthony. Nonetheless, they appeared on stage as though it was 1979 as they sparked into “Light Up The Sky.” Moving along with an imminent amount of energy from Roth and a tremendous instrumentation, they carried right through with classics such as “Runnin’ With the Devil” and “Romeo Delight.”

Roth engaged the crowd in a joking manner as he told a tale of when he was young, before his teenage years, about how hyperactive he was. Carried on by mentioning how his family would threaten him to stop making so much noise and how this moment confirmed suspicions he already had. He knew he was different than the other boys, he was not satisfied with football. He, “yearned to run free, he yearned to sing Rock N’ Roll.” Shortly after his heartfelt story, music chimed in and “Everybody Wants Some!!” from Women and Children First, “Drop Dead Legs” from the acclaimed 1984, earlier hits of “Feel Your Love Tonight” from their 1978 self-titled debut, and “Somebody Get Me A Doctor” from 1979’s Van Halen II sprang in with endless adrenaline. With speed, axeman Eddie shredded away like the guitar God that he is. The riffs echoed throughout Jones Beach as fans screamed out in astonishment. The immaculate lighting lifted all with a rocking performance as Alex pounded away during each lighting change. The set was in high gear as Roth captivated all and interacted with Alex, Wolfgang, and Eddie on the platform. The way Eddie smiled during this performance, and witnessing such interaction between him and Roth, proved how they were meant to be together again on the stage.

Heating up the evening while celebrating the David Lee Roth years, it was time to break into newer tracks as they kicked into “She’s the Woman” and “China Town” from A Different Kind of Truth. After the classic performance of “I’ll Wait” from 1984, Alex erupted into a highlighting drum solo. As fans shouted in fascination, Alex’s solo monopolized into classics such as “Little Guitars,” “Dance The Night Away,” “Beautiful Girls,” and “Women in Love.” Carrying on with Alex’s thunder, he opened up to the acclaimed “Hot For Teacher,” which left Eddie ripping in guitar excellence throughout. Moving along with stamina, Roth’s bluesy vocals prowled throughout the amphitheater during “In a Simple Rhyme” and “Dirty Movies.”

Winding down, Roth brought out his acoustic guitar and warmed up the audience on a deeper and historical note, “We are doing one of our best shows in the whole season here, as it rightly should be.” Roth mentioned that his dog in California was waiting for him, but as he snickered, he stated he lives in New York City. Roth was incredibly happy to be back in New York, explaining how sometimes he would travel far away, just to realize he wanted to return. Elaborating on the history he has with New York, he embarrassingly admitted, “New York City with me, started with Summer of 1961.”As the crowd cheered and laughed, Roth continued, “Alright, this is small division, statistically you have been getting smaller as we speak. Uncle Manny passed away, he was ninety-five years old. Uncle Manny served twenty-five missions in WWII over in Berlin, hitchhiked, and started a little club Cafe Wha. That was the Summer that I first stayed in NYC, and stayed right up the loft at the Comedy Cellar downtown at Greenwich Village.” Roth continued in excitement, “that was also the year when Manny gave Bob Dylan his first job. That was a big year for NYC and you didn’t even know about it, did you?” Fans listened to the warming parts of music history as Roth continued, “That was also the year Manny auditioned Jimmy James and the Blue Flames, and said, you should change your last name and it was Jimi Hendrix. True story.” As Roth’s show and tell session was wrapping up, he joked around about the moments he remembered in his life saying how, “The shit that’s important is harder to remember and shit I should completely forget is all I remember.” As the storytelling settled, the epic John Brim cover of “Ice Cream Man” rolled in.

The evening was approaching a near close as they went into “Unchained” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” where Eddie engaged with his son Wolfgang as they instrumentally hammered away. Silencing the platform as Roth, Alex, and Wolfgang disappeared, leaving one guitar legend standing in the spotlight. It was the pivotal moment of the night where fans witnessed Eddie Van Halen dive into a momentous guitar solo that lasted for over ten minutes. At this point, it was obvious to all, that one could watch this notable performance go on for hours. Seeing a phenomenal legend, one of the greatest guitarists in Rock-n-Roll history, made this a one of a kind experience.

After the fans wiped off their drool due to the jaw-dropping moment, Roth, Alex, and Wolfgang sprang back on the stage and were ready for the encore. Crushing in with the Kinks cover of “You Really Got Me,” where Roth admitted how when they first started, they hated to repeat setlists and enjoyed cover songs. Moving along, they rocked into “Panama,” where a few fans let loose, swaying along and loudly screaming out the words. Officially closing out a set that lasted for over two hours, was the infamous “Jump.”

Seeing most of the original lineup perform that night was a complete sensation. Fans walked out in amazement stating, “That was a great show.”A few were left speechless from Eddie’s ultimate solo. As a handful resumed to tailgate, they blasted Van Halen music to re-live the joyous moment that they witnessed. Each individual who made it to the show were incredibly lucky to see these legends conquer Jones Beach.

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Zenae Zukowski
Zenae Zukowski
[email protected]

Zenae has been working in the Entertainment industry since she graduated The School of Visual Arts in 2006 with a BFA in Film. Managing to keep herself busy and glued to the city that never sleeps in NYC with the multiple media facets such as Advertising, Film, Broadcast, and Music, the scene has led her to be a well-rounded content creator focusing in writing, photography, and post production. Taking the industry a step further as a travel enthusiast, she would one day love to afford to fly out to several Music and Film festivals. When she is not working or at a Metal show, she spends her free time with her fur-babies.

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