Tales from a Metalhead: Chapter 8: “Look at all the people here tonight!”

Tales from a Metalhead logo

This chapter is part of a book called Tales from a Metalhead written by Metal Express Radio’s President Stig G. Nordahl. The chapters will be posted one at the time and you can find them all here.

Van Halen is one of my favorite bands of all time, but I have actually never seen them play live. The band never toured much in Europe, and the closest I ever got was when they played in Oslo with Sammy Hagar in 1993. That show was scheduled for Easter and if you know anything about Norwegians it is that almost all of us emigrate to the mountains for skiing that week. Oslo and other cities essentially become ghost towns. Bad timing Eddie and Alex! It might not be too late to see Van Halen live yet but I wouldn’t be interested unless they reunite the original lineup. Lead singer David Lee Roth (DLR) peaked years ago so in order to make it worth my while I think they should get bass player Michael Anthony back into the ranks. I have made a deal with a friend of mine that if the original lineup reunites we are taking a trip across the pond, to the land of the free and the home of the brave to see them play. I’ll get back to my buddy in a bit.

DLR on stage in Glasgow

I have seen DLR live solo a couple of times though, but oddly never in Oslo. The man has released a few impressive albums on his own. The first time I saw him live was at Sweden Rock Festival in 1999. The show was cool and obviously filled with the best songs from Van Halen and from his own solo career. What I remember best is the plastered-on entertainer smile and his shiny silver suit. In 2004, DLR announced a show in Glasgow, Scotland. Our photographer at the time suggested that we go there if we could get an interview with the man himself. After going through all the hoops we eventually landed an interview slot, so we booked our flights and soon were on our merry way.

We arrived at Clyde Auditorium (now known as SEC Armadillo) in Glasgow early enough for soundcheck. The band played a couple of songs to get the sound right before DLR entered the stage to do “Dance the Night Away” with the band. We were sitting excited and hidden way up in the balcony. The man was apparently in a foul mood and I wouldn’t have traded places with the sound engineer for all the money in the world. “Where are the guitars? We’re a fucking guitar band! Why are the fucking guitars so low in the mix? It sounds flat!” It took a while before there was enough guitar for him to continue. I still got most of this on tape. We spoke with the sound engineer a little later and he assured us that DLR always acts like this during soundcheck. He would always turn the guitars down again before the show to ensure a balanced mix. I guess we can call him an “artistic kind of guy”; a phrase that I learned from Bernie Marsden (ex-Whitesnake) when I asked him about David Coverdale. I was still curious to see how the interview would turn out after the show.

The Quireboys was the supporting act this evening. They delivered the goods as always and my best memory from their set was, as usual, an inebriated Spike who joked about boring Scots. Probably not the best thing to do in Scotland, but he was amazing and got out of there alive.

DLR/Glasgow show

DLR was his usual self onstage. The venue was far from packed but nevertheless in the middle of the opening song, “Hot For Teacher” he shouted: “Look at all the people here toniiight!” like he usually does. A lot of his spoken lines were part of the routine. In the early years he used to express that he “forgot the fucking words!” All in all, it was a good show but I had to admit to myself that my heroes were getting older. He was pretty static onstage, unlike in his earlier days, but obviously no one can expect him to be the acrobat he was 20 years ago. He would still do the high kicks, reaching higher than his own height; something I’ve never been close to do in my entire life. He actually reminded me a bit of Elvis with the outfits he was wearing. His voice was still good though, especially compared to what we’ve heard from him in the latter years. Read the review here!

DLR interview

After the show we were taken to a room backstage where we were going to interview him. We waited and waited and finally the man of the hour came limping into the room. I asked him if he had injured himself but he explained that the acrobatics of the early days was the culprit. I couldn’t help but think of his biography which starts with one word, “Pain”. I can understand how the acrobatics from back in the day might have worn on him, but not the stage performance we had just witnessed. I guess the past is still stuck in his body. I thought we could cheer him up with a copy of our review of his latest album, Diamond Dave, but apparently the guy never reads reviews.

DLR after show party pass

Despite getting the feeling that he was on autopilot during most of the interview, it was a great experience. Getting him to record a station ID was worth the trip to Scotland alone. None of our station IDs has so many interesting words uttered in such a short time without a script. I think this is the most entertaining interview I’ve ever done and I can’t take any credit for it at all. DLR was in a great mood, high on life and well-articulated as always. Dave told me to start the recorder, and then he proceeded to start the interview on his own, blabbering away without me asking a single question. “While others burn the candle at both ends, I am using a blowtorch on the middle!” That set the tone for the interview. We touched upon subjects like if he wanted to do a reality show like The Osbournes (which was currently running on MTV), his biography Crazy From The Heat and the failed tour with Sammy Hagar, which showed us that they can’t/won’t hang out together.

The joint tour with Sammy Hagar ended with mudslinging in the media between the two of them. Among other things, Sammy had said that David used a wig onstage. The sound engineer we had met earlier in the evening told us that this was not true. When listening to the interview again now, I can clearly hear that DLR wasn’t particularly interested in talking about his current affairs. There were so many more questions that I could have asked, sitting down with the vocalist from the biggest Hard Rock band in the world back in the day.

Now, back to the friend I mentioned in the beginning of this chapter. He is one of the biggest Van Halen and DLR fans I know. As we were finishing up the interview, I couldn’t help but dialing his number while DLR was answering my last question. When he was done I explained that Norway’s biggest DLR fan was on the phone and that it would mean the world to him if he could talk to him. What I didn’t know was that my friend was already asleep when I called him and he was really disoriented. The conversation went something like this:

DLR: “Hi, this is David Lee Roth, how are you doing over there?”
My friend (in Norwegian): “Hi, is it you Stig?”
DLR: “I don’t know what you are saying, but it doesn’t sound like you’re having a party!”
My friend (still in Norwegian): “Did you do the interview? I was sleeping.”

DLR rolled his eyes and handed me back the phone. As we were about to take the mandatory backstage pictures my phone rang again. My friend had just realized that he had been talking to the real deal. One of his friends (who is also a huge Van Halen fan) had kissed that phone later because DLR had been on the other end of the line. I don’t know if that is the definition of dedication or just plain crazy!

Van Halen also did great with Sammy Hagar behind the mic. He is an excellent singer and they made some strong albums with him fronting the band. The first time I saw Sammy Hagar perform was in Las Vegas in 1997. He played in an arena inside a hotel called Aladdin. The stage looked like his Cabo Wabo restaurant in Mexico (which is also the name of his tequila brand). He put on a helluva show mostly filled with songs from his solo career, but of course he played a few Van Halen tracks too. The crowd was on fire and they were still chanting “Sammy! Sammy! Sammy!” as they left the venue after the show.

In 2005, Sammy was headlining one night at Sweden Rock Festival. A couple of weeks before the festival took place I received an email from a guy in New York. He was running a Hard Rock Myspace(!) site and was wondering if we could meet as he was coming over for the festival. We were both staying in the press camp so told him to to look for the Metal Express Radio banner. I had totally forgotten about the guy until all of a sudden he was standing outside my tent. He joined us for a beer and we chit-chatted for a while. He was especially excited to see Sammy Hagar the same night.

Picture of SAMMY HAGAR
Sammy Hagar at Sweden Rock

I had asked for an in person interview with Sammy, but he only did a press conference. I attended the press conference, mostly for the entertainment since Sammy Hagar is a funny guy. Before the show Sammy invited a handful of fans to join the band on stage. Just like in Vegas, the stage looked like a huge bar and the fans on the stage were supposed to be barflies (that’s how I remember it at least). During the show I spotted my new friend from New York up on the stage, having the time of his life. That was the last time I ever saw him. After the show, me and my friends went back to the camp for a night cap and to discuss the shows we had seen that day. I was excited to hear about how my American friend got invited up on stage and what it was like up there, but he never showed up. That night it was pouring and the next day his tent, the smallest one I’ve ever seen, was lying flat on the ground. I have no idea where he went, but I hope he made it safely back to New York.

It costs a lot to keep Metal Express Radio running. Let’s face it, we’re a grassroots web radio and we do this because we love Metal. Any contributions that helps keeping us afloat are highly welcomed. We gladly accept donations on our donate page.


  • Stig G. Nordahl

    Stig is the founder and the president of Metal Express Radio, based out of Oslo, Norway. He has been around doing Metal radio since the mid-eighties. In fact, running Metal Express Radio takes almost all of his time. Is it worth it...? "Most times, yes," Stig says. "My philosophy is to try to give all Metal releases a fair chance to get promoted in one way or another. As you can imagine, it can be an arduous task to listen through about 20 albums every week! Still, I know we have the best METAL dedicated radio on this planet, and that is a reward in and of itself. I hope one day the whole Metal community can and will make listening to Metal Express Radio part of their daily rituals! Yeah, right..."

    View all posts

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.