Photographs by Lee-Ann Wylie
It would be only fair to say, that this year’s March 17th redefined the true meaning of celebration for Toronto. The green covered city celebrated St. Patrick’s day with it’s finest drinks, gorgeous ladies and indeed the best music act it could possibly offer it’s residents and visitors. Van Halen was in town with their “A Different Kind of Truth” tour and that was not something anyone could easily ignore. I walked through the busy streets of foggy downtown towards Air Canada Centre. Passing through a small army of ticket scalpers, I found myself in front of ACC’s Galleria among hundreds of fans, pre-partying to Van Halen’s classics while waiting for the gates to open. From Young boys and girls, singles and couples, middle aged parents and their kids, to older ladies and gentlemen, they were all there and getting ready to celebrate one of the biggest treasures in the history of Rock & Roll. 6:30PM, and the gates were open.
A little more than an hour later, the show began with Kool & The Gang, a very suitable opening act for the night. From the first song, Fresh, Kool & The Gang invited the audience on a journey in time, through the golden years and elements of Funk, Disco and R&B with 10 of their classic hits, including Too Hot, Hollywood Swingin’ and my favorite, Jungle Boogie. They finished their set with Celebration, but the night’s celebration was only about to begin. A little more patience, and Van Halen was on the stage. Through the screaming crowd, it was Unchained and Eddie Van Halen’s legendary guitar tone, creeping through the cracks of the walls into our bodies and warmly greeting every single one of us in the arena with the promise of a night of partying and Rock & Roll. The brilliance of Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth performance, also projected on the humongous screen behind the band, was nothing less than mesmerizing and surely a great education for every younger rockers, wether singers or guitar players, among the crowd. Van Halen’s setlist was also a great reward for the loyal fans, as they gone through the greatest hits in their catalog, from Runnin’ with the Devil and Everybody Wants Some, to Hot for Teacher, Girl Gone Bad, Panama, Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love, and finally Jump for their grand finale.
In one sentence: It was a fantastic show and an unforgettable experience for any Rock & Roll lover.