NEWS- Virginny's cryin': JPJ show postponed for reasons unknown
Last Friday, February 22, more than 12,000 fans expecting to rock out to Van Halen at John Paul Jones Arena learned that they would have to find some other place to "Jump," "Dance the Night Away," and go "Running with the Devil," as the band's tour had hit something of an int-"Eruption."
The California-based rock gods postponed their Charlottesville gig as well as the following February 25 concert at Gwinnett Arena outside Atlanta to as-yet-unannounced dates. Word of the no-go came in the form of a press release on Monday morning just after 10am– a mere 12 hours before the band was slated to take the stage.
The concerts were the final two on an East Coast swing before a scheduled week-long break. Why couldn't the group finish what they started?
"There's no official reason at this point," says Janie Lizsewski, the band's publicist as well as girlfriend of guitarist Eddie Van Halen.
After the announcement, the local blogosphere ignited with rumors of a loud shouting match among the infamously quarrelsome foursome at downtown bar Rapture, leading to one or more band members quitting.
"I'm not aware of any falling out," says Liszewski, "but what I can tell you is that I've read the rumor about the bar fight at Rapture, and it's not true. They weren't even in Charlottesville, so that rumor can lie to rest."
The announcement of the last-minute decision came strangely concurrent with a predicted but unrealized ice storm that caused wary school systems including Albemarle, Fluvanna, Nelson, Greene, and others to cancel school.
Perhaps more eerily concurrent was the story that appeared on ABCNews.com that actress and Eddie Van Halen's ex-wife, Valerie Bertinelli, had blurted out, during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, that she had cheated on the guitar hero during their 24-year marriage. Bertinelli is also the mother of Wolfgang Van Halen, who– only weeks away from his 17th birthday– is the band's current bass player.
Does the woman in Eddie's life now believe there's a chance Bertinelli's revelations had anything to do with the cancellation?
"No," Liszewski says.
If the reasons behind the indefinite delay turn out to be more than a sore throat or a production mishap, it would hardly be the first time Van Halen has been derailed due to personal troubles. Many believed the reunion tour wouldn't even happen in the first place thanks to years of bad blood between Eddie Van Halen and the band's original frontman, David Lee Roth.
After Roth left the group acrimoniously in 1985, the band recruited "I Can't Drive 55" singer Sammy Hagar to man the mic. Following Hagar's departure in 1996, an effort at a reunion with Roth came to a halt after the quartet made a surprise appearance on the MTV Video Music Awards. That was when Roth learned the band was simultaneously entertaining the idea of asking Mitch Malloy be the new lead singer.
After a universally panned experiment with Extreme frontman Gary Cherone handling the vocals, Van Halen welcomed Hagar back into the fold in 2003, and with him successfully completed a North American tour in 2004.
Well, almost. On the night of November 19, in what turned out to be the final show of that tour in Tuscon, Eddie Van Halen reportedly stumbled around the stage for much of the night, repeatedly bumping into Hagar, and cut the show short by abruptly smashing his guitar, flinging the remains in Hagar's direction and walking offstage.
That show was the last for Hagar's second stint fronting Van Halen, as well as the final show for original bassist Michael Anthony, who learned in February 2007 not only that a reunion tour with Roth was on, but that he'd been fired and replaced by then 15-year-old Wolfgang Van Halen.
That tour was delayed, however, when Eddie Van Halen checked himself into rehab in May of last year, reportedly due to a problem with alcohol.
Finally, on September 27, 2007, what Roth calls the "three-fourths original and one-fourth inevitable" Van Halen took to the stage in Charlotte, to wildly positive reviews.
The most recent comments on Van Halen shows are pointed in their omission of any signs of in-fighting or de-wagoning. Printed reviews of the most recent shows report nothing but chumminess, flashy showmanship, and spot-on musicianship– save for the occasional foray into improvisation run amok, which the New Orleans Times-Picayune described as "bringing the energy down and prompting Roth to break into a cartoony smile and exclaim, 'Are you guys still having fun out there?'"
If the wheels have fallen off the tour, nobody has bothered to tell the band's promoters. Since canceling the scheduled Charlottesville date, Live Nation has announced new gigs for the band in Winnipeg, Buffalo, and Las Vegas, in addition to the 17 previously scheduled dates running through early April.
Will the tour resume "Right Now," or will fans be left wondering "Where Have All the Good Times Gone?" Van Halen fans eagerly await the band's next slated appearance at Dallas' American Airlines Arena on Monday, March 3.