As a result of the temporary and short-notice lineup change, Van Halen delivered his debut single “Distance” – a tribute to late dad Eddie Van Halen – as a solo performance on acoustic guitar for the first time.
“This is fun, this is interesting, it’s dangerous, you don’t know what’s going to fucking happen, right?” Van Halen said at one point early in the show. “I can tell you for sure, we’re gonna rock the fuck out, whether it’s good or not.”
The normally five-piece band has already been short one guitarist throughout this tour: Frank Sidoris is on the road as a member of Slash’s band. A cardboard cutout of Sidoris has been accompanying the group on the road and can be seen in the background of the fan-shot videos below.
Watch Wolfgang Van Halen Perform ‘Distance’
“There’s some parts missing,” Van Halen told the crowd at the Starland Ballroom in an upbeat tone of voice. “But I’m doing my fucking best, man. I’m sorry.” Just before launching into “Distance” he laughed and explained: “There were so many parts I just decided to strip it down. … I don’t have a [metronome] click in my ear; I just gotta fucking do it!”
While the band previously recorded an acoustic version of “Distance” for the Today show, it’s the first time Van Halen performed an entirely solo version of the song. After it, he paid tribute to late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, performing a cover of “My Hero.” “Guys, I fucking miss Taylor Hawkins, so we’re gonna play ‘My Hero,'” he said. “You guys cool with that?”
Watch Mammoth WVH Perform ‘My Hero’
The audience was fully supportive throughout the 12-song set, especially in its emotional response to “Distance” and “My Hero.”
Watch Mammoth WVH Perform ‘Mr. Ed’
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In spite of the ongoing pandemic, music soldiered on.