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Van Halen – Rainbow Theatre 1980 (Zodiac 442)

Rainbow Theatre 1980 (Zodiac 442) 

Rainbow Theatre, London, England – June 23, 1980 

(75:38) Intro, Romeo Delight, Bottoms Up, Drum Solo, Runnin’ With The Devil, Tora! Tora!, Loss Of Control, Take Your Whiskey Home, Dance The Night Away, Women In Love, Jamie’s Cryin’, Bright Lights Big City, Everybody Wants Some, And The Cradle Will Rock…, Light Up The Sky, Guitar Solo, Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love, Ice Cream Man, You Really Got Me 

The heaviest Van Halen of their entire discography is most certainly Women And Children First, released in March 1980. Like their previous two LP’s, WACF was recorded virtually live in the studio, overdubs were kept to a minimum and the record retains the primal sound with just enough polish, a trademark of Ted Templeman’s production. The subsequent tour called “World Invasion Tour” featured extensive dates in North America split by a month long tour of Europe and the UK. The bulk of the concert recordings from 1980 come from North America, there are only a few from the European trek, Geleen, Holland and both nights at London’s 2,800 seat Rainbow Theatre. 

The Rainbow Theatre recording is one of the better recordings from the 1980 tour and has circulated for years thanks to a couple vinyl bootlegs, The Good, The Bad, The Van Halen (RR Records PL 47) was sourced from Sweden soon after the show and its Japanese counterpart Special Offer (Ud-6541) came after. Curiously this recording has escaped a silver CD release, Complete London 1980 (Lost and Found LAF2060) was a CD-R title, so this new title from Zodiac is most welcome. The sound of this recording is very good, slightly distant and thin, with just a bit of hall echo. The sound is clear and after a couple songs all instruments and vocals can be clearly heard. There is a nice blend of audience in the mix and the atmosphere of the concert is perfectly captured. 

The intro is the band playing a jam with the announcer saying “OK London this is it…Please welcome back The Mighty VAN HALEN” that leads into the opener Romeo Delight. What is great about 1980 is David is still making an effort to sing and when combined with Michael and Eddie’s vocals on the choruses, the effect is powerful. The song is quickly followed by Bottoms Up that is like a one two punch to the face and one gets the feeling Van Halen is taking no prisoners, Michael Anthony is laying down some wicked bass lines, the playing is very inspired. After Alex’s drum solo and Runnin’ With The Devil (featuring a cool riff jam intro) we get to hear some new stuff. Dave greets the audience telling them they are ending the European tour in style asking how the audience is feeling then blasts them with Tora! Tora! into Loss Of Control and as I listen, how could this band play any tighter, Eddie’s playing sounds intricate and effortless at the same time and the absolute power of the band is on full display. The excellent Take Your Whiskey Home follows, played on electric guitar, the audience is totally into it, clapping along and in California Party mode. 

Dance The Night Away captures that teenage charm and is followed by the rarely played Women In Love, which by the way is an excellent version. The band play a jam before Jamie’s Cryin’ that almost sounds like a bit of metalized funk. Another rarity of this tour is the cover of Jimmy Reed’s Bright Lights, Big City that features some excellent bass play by Mr. Michael Anthony. Dave starts by doing his rap about talking with David Coverdale and drinking too much, once they break into the song it is done in VH style and is really heavy with lots of improvisation leads from The Master that has to be heard. The very end of the song is cut as is the very beginning of Everybody Wants Some most certainly a tape flip. 

More goodness from Women And Children First follows, Everybody Wants Some features a quick Dave rap followed by his “I like the way the lines up the back of the stockings” and the song leaves the crowd delirious. Another jam leads into And The Cradle Will Rock…, the music seems to flow and the band do not slow the momentum. The song also features Michael Anthony doing the keyboard parts of the song, there is a photo of this in the inner cover of this title as well. The excellent VH II opening song Light Up The Sky is next continuing the “all killer no filler” setlist. The song features a proper Alex drum solo versus the one prior to Runnin’ With The Devil. Eddie gets his anticipated solo that features a bit of Spanish Fly as well as a bit of what would become Mean Streets the next year and Blood And Fire 32 years later. 

Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love features some appreciation from Dave. As if the playing is not enough, the song ends the main set and leaves the audience screaming “WE WANT MORE”, I do to. The audience know what’s coming as you can hear them scream “ice cream…ice cream”. Ed starts it off with a bit of noodling before David gets his acoustic working as the crowd happily clap along…Dave tells them “London, your fucking great” before the full band kick in, this is the truth my friends. The concert ends with a take no prisoners version of You Really Got Me, the very beginning is cut, I can only think the taper paused his machine in a effort to save tape. A flawless concert. 

The packaging features live shots of the band that capture the vibe of the music on this CD. The format is to replicate the Women And Children First record sleeve, the picture on the CD is from the official album cover and the numbered sticker shares the same photo…come in number 47, my time is up. This is an excellent release of a must have show, now all Zodiac needs to do is give us Greensboro 8/25/1981, it’s still active on dime and needs to be released…now. 

If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)

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