It’s that shit eating grin that drives me nuts. Van Halen is resurfacing again. This is where Ed announces a world tour and then pulls out after two weeks. That isn’t my concern. I am not even going to talk about Eddie destroying the band over and over. It’s Eddie’s band, and it’s not my business. If he wants to take off 15 years in between tours… that is his own business.
My concern here is Roth. The great David Lee Roth. Roth is a showman. A great one. That is my concern. I am watching re-union footage (anything in the last ten years with Roth fronting the band. Has short hair, shit eating grin). There is one thing I can’t find him doing in the last ten years – singing. Note, I am not saying he lip syncs. I wish. I am not sure what you would call it he does on stage... but it isn't singing.
Go ahead, poke around youtube. You see him smiling, and kind of talking through lyrics in a smarmy and patronizing way. You never see him sing, though. It is patronizing to the fans; Roths’ take seems to imply ‘listen, I know these songs so well… they are ingrained Americana. Heck, you know these songs even better! Why even bother singing them like they sound on the recordings? We are here, together. Isn’t that good enough? Tell me if I am missing something, please.
When I watch Roth, I see a guy doing ten things. Singing isn’t a single one of them. We know he can sing like a mofo. Listen to this isolated audio of ‘running with the devil’. He just exudes charisma and power and lead singeriness. Most importantly, though, he sings. I went back. The great academic question is this, did Roth EVER sing live? I mean did he ever really put his heart into a great vocal performance? Did he ever set aside 3 minutes of a concert to just sing his dick off… and not be DLR? Um… no.
Watch for the part where he forgets to be a sex god and just loses himself in the music. Just kidding. It doesn’t look like it ever happened once.
Here is the most bizarre thing about Roth’s performances… all of them. He isn’t ever ‘phoning it in’. He is fully present in every sense at these shows. He isn't checked out, or not caring. He is just too busy being DLR for a living that singing doesn’t make it on his list of things to do. Go ahead, prove me wrong. Find me a live performance, even from 30 years ago... where he knocks it out of the park singing. Please.