David Lee Roth brings manly biceps, Jack Daniels, a boxing ring, and a giant surfboard to Vancouver on the Skyscraper Tour

kevin statham photo

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 27, 1988

By Steve Newton

Whether you like David Lee Roth or not, there’s one thing you’ve got to admit: the guy’s a star. It’s hard to take your eyes off him, and few did at the Pacific Coliseum last Saturday (May 21). Whether you’re ogling his sexy bod, or gazing with wonder at his impressive leaps and kicks, the guy always commands attention. And it helps if you’ve got one of the world’s rockingest bands supplying the aural energy as well.

Dave hit the stage wearing a back and orange matador’s outfit–with sequins aplenty–and white runners, gloves, and bandana. He sped right into “The Bottom Line”, a raunchy tune off his new album Skyscraper, then went way back 10 years for an old fave from the first Van Halen LP, “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love”. Guitarist Steve Vai–looking nearly as cool as Dave himself with a long black coat, silver-buckled boots, and cowboy hat–crammed all the Eddie Van Halen licks he could muster into that tune’s wild solo.

“Look at all the people here tonight!”, exclaimed Dave, before he shed his fancy coat to reveal a sleeveless (and frontless) black t-shirt–and those manly biceps. Steve Vai brought out the gigantic, three-necked guitar from the video of “Just Like Paradise” for that one, playing two necks at a time with the greatest of ease, and for the into to “Easy Street” Dave was handed his own favourite prop–a bottle of J.D.–and toasted the up, down, “and sideways” moves of his career in rock. The 9,400 or so in attendance gave him their own raucous nod of approval.

During an extended Steve Vai guitar freakout, Dave went off to the side of the stage, changed costumes, and then was swung up above the stage, where he slid down on two ropes, stormtrooper style, for “Skyscraper”. Vai played a few licks from Alice Cooper’s “Gutter Cat Vs. the Jets” before Dave donned a black fedora, lit a cigarette, and–to the synthesized sound of a crooning, bluesy sax–made a long detective-style introduction to “Just a Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody”.

Dave also made an amateurish attempt at playing the steel drums, and then it was time to bring out the real props–a boxing ring that lowered him down to the soundboard for “Panama”, and a giant yellow surfboard (with exhaust system) that he rode back to the stage during “California (Vancouver!) Girls”. For his encore Roth chose two of Van Halen’s biggest hits, their version of the Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” and (what else) “Jump”.

After the show a group of about 30 young girls (mostly blonde) were allowed to stay behind, neatly assembled in three rows of seats near the stage. When the appropriate time came they were all given backstage passes (except four who were, one supposes, not cute enough) and hustled back to a “hospitality room”, from which boomed the sound of loud music and much hilarity. Whatever happened there remains a mystery, but one thing’s pretty certain: the night’s socially conscious opening act, D.O.A., was not around.

Vancouver’s favourite sons–who were called in at the last moment to replace Poison after its bassist injured himself–did not go over well with the latter’s more glam-oriented following. Joey Keithley’s politically charged tunes proved no match for Bret Michaels’ heavily-teased hair, I suppose. At any rate, D.O.A. made up for it when their own impressive following crammed Club Soda the next night.

“We ain’t no fuckin’ Bon Jovi!” bellowed Keithley at the Soda gig. No kiddin’. Tell me something I don’t know.

don’t ask me how I ended up with Randy Bachman’s backstage pass:

 

 

 

 

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