Van Halen – Montreal 1982 (Zodiac 103)

Van Halen – Montreal 1982Montreal 1982 (Zodiac 103)

Montreal Forum, Montreal, Quebec, Canada – October 27, 1982

Disc 1 (40:17) Unchained, Drum Solo, The Full Bug, Running With The Devil, Little Guitars, Where Have All The Good Times Gone?, Hang ‘Em High, Cathedral, Secrets, Bass Solo, Everybody Wants Some

Disc 2 (42:53) Dance The Night Away, Somebody Get Me Doctor, I’m So Glad, Somebody Get Me A Doctor (reprise), Ice Cream Man, Intruder, Pretty Woman, Eruption, Bottom’s Up, Tora! Tora! / You Really Got Me, Happy Trails, You Really Got Me (reprise)

The tour to support Van Halen’s fifth studio album, 1982’s Diver Down, was hilariously dubbed the “Lock Up Your Sheep Tour”, it started in mid July 1982 and would officially end with a monstrous headlining gig at the Heavy Metal day of the US Festival in May 1983. While the gigs were again primarily in North America, the tour would also feature dates in South America, the groups first dates there and was another massive success, lets face it, Van Halen was the premiere hard rock act at the time whose notoriety was being boosted even higher thanks to their video of Pretty Woman on MTV.

The band would play a scant three dates in Canada, the last being the source of this new release from the folks at Zodiac. There are multiple sources for show, we can call this one recorder 1, it is a very good to excellent yet incomplete recording, it has a nice balance of instruments and vocals with just enough audience mixed in to the party feel of a VH show. It is a nice full range of frequencies to boot, it has been release as Assaults Montreal (Unknown label), a title that also includes bonus tracks from Greensboro, NC from 1981. The other recording we will label recorder 2 and that is a very good to excellent incomplete audience recording, it is clear and very atmospheric with great mix of music to audience but is thin sounding with an emphasis on the upper frequencies. It is also incomplete, missing the first track, Romeo Delight and the first couple minutes of Unchained. The recording also cuts out most of Dave’s between song chatter that is present on recorder 1, this recording was released as Everybody Wants A Virgin (Shout To The Top STTP 095/096), a title that listed the recording as being from Hampton Virginia. There is also an audience source video of this concert, I do not have a copy but was released as a fan produced title by Digital Reproductions as Floor ‘Em At The Forum (Digital Reproductions DR CD-02782) which included a copy of the video source and 2 CDs of audio that was a two source mix to present the complete concert.

For this new title, Zodiac uses the single source labeled above as recorder 2, sadly they elected not to used the other source to fill the gaps. As stated above the recording is very good to near excellent but on the thin side, it is reported to be from a master clone source, as the only copy of this show I own is Assaults Montreal, I cannot compare this new “transfer” to the older Everybody Wants A Virgin title. What we can talk about is the performance, Van Halen in the late 70’s early 80’s were a force of nature. The recording begins midway through Unchained, there is another cut in the song at the 2:04 mark but little is lost. One can instantly surmise that the band is on fire as they begin a high energy set. Unchained is followed by an Alex VH drum solo, always like that Van Halen was one of the last bands that really delivered excellent individual solos. The set features a nice blend of new songs, The Full Bug and Little Guitars are early in the set. For me Hang ‘Em High is simple incredible, played even faster than the record. Dave is in good shape, what I mean not too buzzed and does a great job on vocals all night.

Mike’s bass solo is cool also, it starts with a bit of what sounds like Sunday Afternoon In The Park, followed by bits of Could This Be Magic? and a playful romp through Bonanza. Mike is certainly the unspoken hero of the band, solid bass playing and killer backing vocals, he is the piece of the puzzle that is clearly missing these days. Sadly the end of his solo is cut at the 3:33 mark. Alex gets another mini solo as part of the Everybody Wants Some intro that is quite nice, made me think of the LA Forum gig from the 1981 tour where Dave called it Jungle music. Dance The Night Away is really great, sometimes live versions of this song are hit or miss, this is definitely a home run. From this point on its high energy all the way, Somebody Get Me A Doctor has the band getting into a bit of a jam, Ed breaks into a bit of Girl Gone Bad and does a great cover of Cream’s I’m So Glad before launching back into Doctor. Eddie does an intense 10 minute guitar solo loosely based around Eruption with a bit of Mean Street thrown in as well as some simply blistering leads from the Master. Sadly the recording is cut at the conclusion omitting the majority of Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love, all that remains is the finally jam ending, thankfully all of Bottoms Up is there. About halfway through Dave proposes a toast to all those who love Rock and Roll and leads the audience in the chorus of Bottom’s Up. The audience go ape sh*t at its conclusion and there is a fade out / tape cut that leads into a killer Tora ! Tora ! intro for You Really Got Me, it’s party time in full swing! Of course the band stops midway through to do Happy Trails, in true Van Halen humor and an end to a fantastic, yet very sadly incomplete concert.

The packaging is typical quality that we expect from Zodiac, lots of good posed and live shots and use of the red and white striped motif from the Diver Down album cover make for a visual pleasing package. There is also the numbered sticker that is always highly collectable, like the old school Marvel value stamps. The only draw back is the incomplete source used, it would be nice if Zodiac would put more effort into their titles from a musical standpoint, while most of their titles are excellent, from time to time they use incomplete sources, KISS Cleveland 1974 and Ozzy Music Mountain 1981 come to mind. Their mastering is always top notch but the use of the other source would have made for a definitive edition of this show but what we get is a possible upgrade of an incomplete source.

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