Time has not been kind to David Lee Roth.
When the platinum-maned singer was fronting Van Halen during that band’s zenith, it seemed he could do no wrong. Despite never actually having a very good live singing voice, Roth was the lion king of the rock ‘n’ roll jungle, hungrily prowling the land, eliciting shrieks of lust from teenage girls and cheers of envy and camaraderie from high school boys.
His vocal shortcomings were more than compensated by his cool, California cocky swagger, his flashy style and his wink-and-a-nod party ‘tude. Those charms , shallow as they were, made Dave the consummate hard-rock m.c.
These days, though, it’s a much different story.
Not that we expect the same juvenile antics from the 40-ish Roth in 1994, but just about anything would have been better than the painful, awkward figure he cut on the House of Blues stage. (Come to think of it, this venue’s name proved ironic, given the depressed looks on many of the attendees’ faces.)
This new version of Diamond Dave sports combed-over short hair, a too-tight shirt-and-vest combo and cheesy versions of the old party tales that at one time seemed so hip.
This 95-minute show, which was broadcast locally by KLSX radio, touched on all facets of Roth’s dynamic career. From the Van Halen days came, among others, “Beautiful Girls,””Panama” and “Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love.” Good songs all, but performed here by a faceless band (Wasn’t that the keyboard player from Rick Springfield’s band?) that related none of the kick-ass excitement of the originals.
Roth’s solo material, including music from current Warner Bros. album “Your Filthy Little Mouth,” was even less interesting. Bouncing from loungelike material such as oldie “Just a Gigolo” to the bad metal of “She’s My Machine” and “Just Like Paradise” to the pseudo-surf of his lame “California Girls” cover , the New York City transplant struggled, with little success, to find any kind of musical momentum or groove.
It can be quite depressing to see how far the mighty sometimes do fall. Here’s hoping that David Lee Roth can take his own advice, plainly spelled out on “A Little Luck,” a track from the new album: “The trouble with self-improvement/Is knowing when it’s time to quit.” Amen.