Rock n’ Roll
August 6, 2015
Eddie Van Halen
Hall of Fame
Rock n’ Roll
Cleveland is known as the city of Rock and Roll, this is mostly due to the city being the home of Alan Freed − the disc jockey credited with first using and popularizing the term "rock and roll" to describe the music genre. Also the city is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is in itself a pretty decent indication of the importance of rock music to the city.
I stayed in Cleveland an extra day after the race at Mid-Ohio because I had my own little piece of Cleveland rock and roll history to attend in the form of a Van Halen/ Kenny Wayne Sheppard concert at Blossom Music Theatre, the local barn located outside of the city. I have been a Van Halen fan for many years having seen them back in the day on their 1984 tour and then again when they replaced David Lee Roth with Sammy Hagar. I really liked both incarnations of the band and hoped that the current tour featuring the return of Roth would be a blast from the past.
To start the day, I headed over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I know that the actual Hall of Fame is a political mess and that often great bands are long delayed or never given admittance to the Hall. I think it is all sort of silly as most political processes are, but the building itself and the collection of Rock and Roll memorabilia are awesome.
It is like a huge Hard Rock Café without the smell of food in the air, the museum features an amazing collection of historical artifacts outlining the many various incarnations of Rock music from before its beginnings to the current time. There is something from just about every major player and tons of not-so-major ones in the collection.
There was also a great exhibit by photographer Herb Ritts that covered his amazing portraits of some of music’s biggest names. All in all it was a great morning at the Hall. Next up, I drove out to check out the Cleveland Zoo. It was a magnificent summer day and perfect to see the zoo.
The zoo was crowded and the animals were mostly active. It was a nice afternoon at a pretty nice zoo. Nothing overly special, just nice exhibits and habitats for the animals. The koala bear exhibit was especially enjoyable, especially since some of the koalas were awake and active at the time of my visit, a rarity since they sleep much of the day. These guys were running about and jumping from tree to tree showing surprising agility. I had never seen that before in many zoo visits.
Kenny Wayne Sheppard
The main reason to be in Cleveland though was to attend the Van Halen concert, which started off pretty good with a strong opening set by Kenny Wayne Sheppard and his band. He is a gifted guitarist and was a good warm up for what I hoped would be a great Van Halen show.
Sadly I was mostly disappointed in Van Halen’s performance. They were shoddy and the sound was muddled and awful. The main problem was poor David Lee Roth who has lost a step or two from his younger years. His voice is mostly shot and his constant mugging and changes of clothes made him seem much more like a bad lounge act from Vegas than the leader of a great rock band. Eddie and Alex were still great but the anchor of Roth’s bad performance brought the entire show down. It was sad and unexpected. I have seen lots of classic rock acts this year and this was the first one that had significantly declined in their live performance.