Along with a couple hundred fortunate souls, I rode a time machine back to the '80s on Wednesday night in Hollywood. I was invited to attend a sneak peek VIP show of the newly reunited legends of rock Van Halen on a soundstage at Henson Studios and I learned a good many things during the band's spirited, hourlong jam session:
1. Lead Singer David Lee Roth, even at 56, has the same patented shriek and flamboyant stage antics (high-larious hip thrusts and all) as he did 30 years ago. He is the human embodiment of Viagra (see video above).
2. Free beverages always make concerts even more fun.
3. Brazilian supermodel Alessandra Ambrosio stood near me, making me feel a lot cooler for being a Van man-fan.
4. I heard Adam Sandler came, which, if true, makes No. 3 even more true.
5. "Runnin' With the Devil" and "Hot For Teacher" still make me laugh.
6. Lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen still has the finger flickin' greatness, but he needs to up the wardrobe (stained old T-shirts? C'mon, Eddie!)
7. Eddie's son Wolfgang has taken over on bass for original member Michael Anthony. He is a suitable replacement and brings a cool legacy to the group.
8. Watching Drummer Alex Van Halen bang his straight 4x4 beats reminded me why I loved playing VH tunes as a kid drummer: So simple.
9. Not many guys pushing 60 can pull off tight leather pants and studded vests, but, somehow, David Lee Roth still does.
10. Of course, they played "Jump" as their encore…their all-time best-selling hit and a crowd-pleaser (though I did want to see Roth do the splits mid-air like the old days).
11. Even after seeing their performance on a scaled-down stage, I want to see the band when their arena tour and its showy production hits Staples Center in June.
12. Still one of my favorite rock lyrics of all time: "I live my life like there's no tomorrow."
13. Forgot my ear plugs—big no-no.
14. Did I mention Allessandra Ambrosio was there?