Van Halen

Tokyo Dome in Concert

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Van Halen didn't release a live album until 1993, by which time David Lee Roth had long since left the group. Tokyo Dome in Concert arrived some 22 years later, by which time Diamond Dave had returned to the fold and Michael Anthony had left, replaced by Eddie Van Halen's son Wolfgang. In other words, this isn't the dream double-live set of the fans' dreams -- the original lineup captured in their 1977-1984 peak -- but rather a surprisingly muscular reunion. If Roth's voice isn't what it used to be, he still radiates charm -- he's always happy to be there, so you're happy to be there with him -- and having Van Halen tackle the group's classics underscores what a different band this incarnation actually is. Michael Anthony happily hugged the root note of a chord, anchoring the wild flourishes of Eddie and Alex, but Wolfgang follows his father and uncle into the breach, slapping and bouncing notes with maniacal energy. What this version lacks in muscle it makes up in dexterity, a shift that's not quite as subtle as it reads. All this activity turns Tokyo Dome in Concert into a marathon taken at the speed of a sprint -- no wonder David Lee Roth often seems breathless!

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