Saturday’s gig at the House of Blues in Cleveland was one of the latter, notable for a few reasons. It was a chance to stretch out a bit setlist-wise with a headlining slot, their first since two initial warm-up shows at the end of July prior to starting the GNR tour.
The 80 minute performance was also a “homecoming” show of sorts for guitarist Frank Sidoris, who has family in the area. Sidoris dressed appropriately for the gig, wearing a t-shirt featuring “The Buzzard,” the mascot of local rock station WMMS.
Watch Mammoth WVH Perform “Don’t Back Down” in Cleveland on Aug. 7, 2021
But most importantly, Mammoth WVH treated the near-capacity crowd to a total of three tour premieres, including a performance of one of the songs sidelined during sessions for the new album, “As Long as You’re Not You,” which had punk-ish leanings and a big chorus.
As Van Halen told UCR on Friday evening in an exclusive conversation prior to the Cleveland performance the next night, “Horribly Right” was one that he has been reticent to perform prior to now. “There’s this one note that’s really hard and if I miss it, it will completely fuck the whole song up,” he said. “I think once we’re in the middle of the tour and I’m warmed up and I’m comfortable, we’ll be able to hit it.”
Though the rocker claimed he was “nervous” to play the track for the first time, it was hardly visible on Saturday evening when they rolled it out as the second song of the set, with Van Halen greeting the crowd with an enthusiastic, “How the fuck are ya?”
They also debuted “Feel” during the Cleveland gig, the other song from the current album that they hadn’t played.
Watch Mammoth WVH Perform part of “Feel” in Cleveland on Aug. 7, 2021
Van Halen was notably in good form, joking in a tone that sounded very Drew Carey-esque. “It’s a hot one in Cleveland tonight, huh?,” the musician quipped, pausing and adding, “Get it, Hot in Cleveland?” The moment was a barely subtle nod to his mother, Valerie Bertinelli, who starred in the television show, but was not in Cleveland on this particular night.
“Figuring out how to be the lead singer is all about pumping up the crowd, but you guys are already so fuckin’ pumped up, there’s nothin’ I can do,” he told the fans, prior to the band’s performance of “Circles.”
And that’s one of the other things that really stood out. While they got an unbelievably positive reception at the GNR tour opener in Hershey, Pa., this Cleveland crowd was unquestionably a room full of the Mammoth WVH faithful.
Hardly a bunch of people just showing up to check out the new animal at the zoo, the attendees actually knew the words to every song from the album and were singing along– impressive for a record which has only been out for a few months now.
They were rewarded with the strongest showing from Mammoth WVH to date and a show that will be one to remember for all involved. Van Halen himself concurred, tweeting that it was “the best show yet” and pledging to return.
Check out images and further videos from the performance below.
Mammoth WVH in Cleveland, Ohio, August 7, 2021
Wolfgang Van Halen and Mammoth WVH make their Cleveland debut.
Watch Mammoth WVH Perform “Talk & Walk” in Cleveland on Aug. 7, 2021
Watch Mammoth WVH Perform “You’re to Blame” in Cleveland on Aug. 7, 2021
Watch Mammoth WVH Perform “The Big Picture” in Cleveland on Aug. 7, 2021
Watch Mammoth WVH Perform “Epiphany” in Cleveland on Aug. 7, 2021
Watch Mammoth WVH Perform “Stone” in Cleveland on Aug. 7, 2021
Watch Mammoth WVH Perform “Distance” in Cleveland on Aug. 7, 2021
Mammoth WVH Tour Set List, August 7, 2021, Cleveland
1. “Don’t Back Down”
2. “Horribly Right
4. “Mr. Ed”
6. “Talk & Walk”
7. “Think it Over”
8. “You’re to Blame”
9. “The Big Picture”
15. “As Long as You’re Not You”