Van Halen close out hometown gigs in Anaheim

The veteran rockers thrill a sold-out crowd

Van Halen played the last of four sold-out Southern California shows last night (December 20) at the Honda Center in Anaheim, thrilling the hometown crowd despite some onstage drama late in the set.

For nearly two hours, the show ran beautifully, with frontman David Lee Roth in fine form as he giddily straddled the line between the brass-knuckle bluster of ‘Unchained’ and the glammed-up goofiness of ‘Panama’.

Alex Van Halen‘s drumming thundered as always, and babyfaced bassist Wolfgang Van Halen — son of Eddie — proved an astonishingly able holder-of-the-line.

It was Eddie himself, however, who stumbled as the show drew to a close. Having grinned and shredded his way happily through the night, he found he couldn’t coax what he wanted out of his guitar, and grunted “I keep fucking up,” into the microphone, restlessly toying with pedals and knobs to produce a squalling, experimental solo.

“For those of you who didn’t like that, at least it’s over,” he noted, clicking all the effects pedals off and projecting his own dissatisfaction onto the enthralled crowd.

In the end, Eddie rose to the occasion, finding the fire he’d been searching for all along. It obviously took a lot out of him — he disappeared shortly thereafter, returning to the stage with a cigarette in his mouth and a palpable mean streak as he tore into an encore of ‘Ain’t Talkin’ About Love’ and ‘Jump’.

In the upcoming weeks, Van Halen will wrap up their 2007 touring with three shows in Oakland and Las Vegas, before returning to the road in January for an ambitious string of Midwestern and southern dates.

Van Halen played:

‘You Really Got Me’

‘I’m the One’

‘Runnin’ With the Devil’

‘Romeo Delight’

‘Somebody Get Me a Doctor’

‘Beautiful Girls’

‘Dance the Night Away’

‘Atomic Punk’

‘Everybody Wants Some’

‘So This is Love?’

‘Mean Street’

‘Pretty Woman’

‘Unchained’

‘I’ll Wait’

‘And the Cradle Will Rock’

‘Hot For Teacher’

‘Little Dreamer’

‘Little Guitars’

‘Jamie’s Cryin’’

‘Ice Cream Man’

‘Panama’

‘Ain’t Talkin’ About Love’

‘1984’

‘Jump’

–By our Los Angeles staff.

Find out more about NME.