Van Halen - Live: Right Here, Right Now
Warner Bros. Records
Arena Hard Rock
Disc 1: 13 songs (73:41) Disc 2: 11 songs (67:51)
Release year: 1993
Van Halen, Warner Bros. Records
Reviewed by Aleksie
Archive review
Considering the überexplosive reputation Van Halen garnered as a live stage act even before their debut album came out, it’s one of the most massive shames in rock that they never put out any official full-lenght live releases – audio or video – in what many consider their prime up to 1984 with David Lee Roth. That’s not to say that they began to suck in concert the moment Sammy Hagar stepped in, not by a long shot, but even then it took some time to get on with the obvious. Granted, a live home video release was made of the 5150-tour at a show in New Haven, CT, and put out in 1987, but in audio form, fans had to make do with oodles of bootlegs all the way to 1993, when this double-album documenting the tour in support of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge came out.

I’ll admit that even for me, the fact that a release like this waited all the way to the Van Hagar-era is a disappointment, but that has a lot more to do with the kind of sizzle bootlegs offer of the DLR-era than any slander I’d be passing on the performances on this record. Recorded in 1992 over two nights at the Selland Arena in Fresno, CA, the crowd is vocal in their support as the band rips through almost two and a half hours of material. The underrated rhythm section of Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen keeps it real tight, Eddie Van Halen dazzles with all the expected fretboard-wizardry and Sammy Hagar supplies the corny banter along with ample proof why he always had the best pipes out of Van Halen’s singers.

One of the understandably biggest grievances VH-fans can also have with a live release coming during Hagar’s tenure is that it’s clearly reflected in the setlist as a relative lack of DLR-era songs, no matter how classic they may be. But the thing is, that’s how it always seemed to be after Roth’s departure. I have never encountered a Hagar-era setlist that would’ve included more than say, four or five Roth-era songs in their entirety, so it’s not like they just picked shows that had less of them for an official release to avoid paying too much royalties Roth’s way. I can only speculate whether this long-standing habit was a result of the band wanting to keep the two eras separate enough, Hagar not wanting to sing too much of Roth’s material, or whatnot. This habit has only strengthened the viewpoint that the two singers pretty much differentiate the divide between two different bands, as their sounds and even setlists ended up so noticeably different from each other.

Anyhoo, as far as a potential Hagar-era setlist goes, the band’s timing couldn’t be much better in my mind. The latest album that they naturally want to promote the most was also their best of the era and as such, F.U.C.K. is very well represented here with 10 of its 11 songs popping up (with the anthemic Right Now a definite highlight). Of course, if F.U.C.K. wasn’t to your liking, your enjoyment of this record will probably be diminished but don’t give up on the remaining 14 sluggers either. The older classics are represented by Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love, Panama (including the mandatory extended crowd-shoutalongs), the band's cover of The Kinks' You Really Got Me (mixed in real nicely into a medley with the latter-day groovy awesomness of Cabo Wabo) and still the best song ever, Jump. Prime choices from 5150 and OU812 like Dreams and Finish What Ya Started rock it up real good as well while The Who’s politicommentary masterpiece Won’t Get Fooled Again is given a standard yet fist-pumping treatment. The consistent cover tune from Sammy’s solo catalogue, There’s Only One Way To Rock, fares equally well.

Also typically for a Van Halen-show, each band member gets a solo spot with varying results. Alex’s drum blitz is technically swell but otherwise not too special while Anthony’s bass solo is much more refreshing as it mostly ditches any attempt at widdly shredding and instead throws out an effect-drenched exercise in cool washes of sound, including a nifty little rendition of Van Halen’s Sunday Afternoon In The Park from Fair Warning. Sammy’s spot is a solo acoustic rundown of one of his own singles, Give To Live, which displays his great voice in a really stripped down setting but not much beyond that. As for Edward, fanboyism be damned, I really shouldn’t explain why his guitar solo (which directly follows his runthrough of F.U.C.K.’s great instrumental piece, 316) is a definite highlight here. Eruption is in there, of course, along with an excerpt of Cathedral (from Diver Down) and the awesome tapping intro of Mean Street (from Fair Warning).

So overall, while Live: Right Here, Right Now can understandably be taken just as a “next best thing” in the Van Halen-catalogue, it is a highly energetic and abundant taste of VH in concert which I feel every fan of the band and good time hard rock in general should own.

Killing Songs :
Pretty much all of 'em
Aleksie quoted no quote
Other albums by Van Halen that we have reviewed:
Van Halen - A Different Kind Of Truth reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 95 / 100
Van Halen - Best Of Volume I reviewed by Aleksie and quoted no quote
Van Halen - Van Halen III reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 40 / 100
Van Halen - Balance reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 72 / 100
Van Halen - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 90 / 100
To see all 15 reviews click here
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