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Van Halen Reunion Tour Offers Old, New, 'Wacky'

The Van Halen reunion is looking to be one of the biggest tours of the summer.

It marks the first time in almost a decade that Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar have graced the same stage.

“It just felt right,” drummer Alex Van Halen says. “Sammy and I got together, and it was like we hadn’t missed a beat. The moment we hit the studio and started making music, that was it. Making music is what is the center of this band – that and the friendship.”

The tour, which kicks off Friday in Greensboro, N.C., has seen record sellouts. The Aug. 6-7 shows at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas sold out in 30 minutes – the fastest sellout in the venue’s five-year history. The tour ends Sept. 29 in Lubbock, Texas.

While the tour has been all the buzz in the music industry, promotion and publicity for the reunion was purposely underplayed, band manager Irving Azoff says.

“Because the whole Van Halen reunion had been shrouded in secrecy and admittedly dysfunctional, the band and I felt that less is more,” he says.

The group did very few interviews and did not release new promotional video footage.

Hagar has been very visible during the past 10 years reactivating his solo career and building his Cabo Wabo franchise. Bass player Anthony also has been on the scene, often touring with Hagar. The Van Halen brothers have been more or less out of sight. Guitarist Eddie had been battling cancer, undergoing a divorce and also had a hip replacement.

Hagar says he hopes the reunion will give fans a sense of completion. “We left on a high note,” says Hagar, who served as the band’s lead singer from 1985-96. “We had a No. 1 album and a sold-out world tour, and then it was over.”

Fans are going to get all the Van Halen hits on this tour. “This set we’re playing right now is better than any set we’ve every played before,” Hagar says. “I used to be sensitive to the old material; everyone knows that. And I’m not now. We have a whole different outlook on everything.

Hagar admits that the vibe now between him and the Van Halen brothers is “intense and wacky,” but despite their highly publicized breakup, music and friendship are the ties that bind them.

“When you spend that much time with somebody, you really do have a deep friendship,” Hagar says. “We decided rather than go to therapy like some of these other bands and give them the dirt, we said, ‘No, no. Here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re going to pretend like it never happened. We’re going to rise above it. That’s done. This is right now. We’re going for it.’ ”

The group has recorded three new songs to add to the Warner Bros. Records best-of album to be released next month.

Hagar says if time had permitted, they would have recorded a new studio album. However, when pressed about whether the group might go back into the studio after the tour, Hagar says: “One thing at a time. I think it can last, and I hope it can… (With) four personalities, anything can happen.”

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