Sunday, January 08, 2012

Van Halen Cafe Wha? Gig -- Exclusive Report and Photos

A former housemate in San Francisco from many years ago was able to get into the Van Halen show last week and I spoke to him about it and with his permission am posting some of his photos and observations for you to enjoy.

Hi name is Vince Muraco, and he is Executive Chef at Andaz 5th Avenue in New York City. In fact, when I knew Vince in the mid 90s, he was attending California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, where at age 17 he was its youngest student ever.

He has a long, prestigious resume as a chef in California, Miami and New York, including Park Hyatts in SF and LA, Vix in Miami, Grove Isle Resort in Coconut Grove, Florida and as Executive Chef at Zimzala in Huntington Beach. Now in New York and soon to be married and a father to boot, Vince is making a name for himself at Andaz 5th Avenue.

He has always been a Van Halen fanatic, even back in the day when we shared a house with a bunch of other guys in the city. We needed to have seven or eight people in that house to make rent, and Vince was one of those guys. I was in a touring band and wasn't around much but when I was we'd sometimes talk Halen, and I'd borrow his red Strat, the only axe in the house with a whammy bar. Vince also had one of the first 5150 heads, which he still has!

So anyway, he was able to get into the show at literally the last second from a classic 'friend of a friend of a colleague' situation and was ushered into Cafe Wha? during the first song. He stood off to the side of the stage on Wolfgang's side. You can see that from some of the photos he has shared.

Vince told me the vibe in the venue was electric and even though it was mostly industry folks in attendance, people went totally nuts.

He said that while Dave couldn't really hit the high highs, he sounded great and was the same old Dave, telling stories and going on and on. He said the band was mugging behind him and Eddie looked at his watch a couple of times during the longer Dave intros but all in fun.

Wolfgang was solid but as with most people, Vince missed Michael Anthony's voice. Wolfgang and Eddie did sing backups, though. Alex was rock solid on the kit, playing the smallest drum set Vince had ever seen him play -- probably due to the tiny stage more than anything. And the happiest surprise was that Eddie seemed sober and was having fun and was on fire.

Vince told me he had been able to sit in on some Van Hagar sound checks a few years ago and Eddie would be tight and killer but by show time he'd be wasted and couldn't play. Not the case in New York.

As you'd expect (and with an only 45-minute set), it was over in a blur. As noted in other reports, despite Beautiful Girls and Unchained being on the setlist for the encore, the band only did one song, Ain't Talkin Bout Love

Vince hung out after the show, bumped knuckles with Wolfgang, who gave him a pick, and then made his way to Eddie's side and was able to grab a setlist (pictured) and one of Eddie's picks too. Gearheads will appreciate the photos of Eddie's rig.

Speaking of Eddie, Eddie Trunk (NYC DJ and host of VH1 That Metal Show) was there and Vince was able to shoot the bull for a second and give him his card. Jimmy Fallon and John McEnroe were also in attendance.

Enjoy Vince's photos, and for sure hit the Andaz 5th Avenue if you make it to NYC. Thanks Vince for your insights and photos! Next step - let's see how good the new album is.

Also, according to Eddie Trunk's website, the track listing for Van Halen's new studio album, A Different Kind Of Truth has been revealed via The Van Halen News Desk.

A Different Kind Of Truth's Track listing:

1. Tattoo
2. She’s The Woman
3. You and Your Blues
4. China Town
5. Blood and Fire
6. Bullethead
7. As Is
8. Honeybabysweetiedoll
9. The Trouble With Never
10. Outta Space
11. Stay Frosty
12. Big River
13. Beats Workin’

In other Van Halen news, is reporting that the Deluxe Edition CD will feature a bonus DVD featuring four brand new acoustic performance videos titled The Downtown Sessions.

Van Halen's A Different Kind Of Truth is due to be released on February 7th through Interscope Records.

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