Van Halen + Kenny Wayne Shepherd at First Niagara; Stage AE Hosts Hozier (Tues., 7/28/15)

1) “Running With the Devil,” “The Cradle Will Rock,” and oft-played early MTV hits “Jump” and “Panama” are all signature songs of Van Halen. Formed in Pasadena, California in 1972, the band has seen several lineup changes around its core, brothers Eddie and Alex Van Halen. For a brief period while growing up Alex was the guitarist and Eddie was the drummer in the family. Then Alex started playing Eddie’s drums, so Eddie said he was going to play Alex’s guitar, and they both found their niches. Eddie Van Halen is now one of the most noted guitarists in the world, ranked number eight in Rolling Stone‘s list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists. Alex is a highly respected drummer who lays a steady and solid beat for Eddie’s guitar and the rest of the band. The original bassist was Michael Anthony, replaced in 2006  by Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie’s son with actress Valerie Bertinelli. For lead singers—see if you can keep up with me here—the theatrical rocker David Lee Roth was the original until 1985, then it was Sammy Haggar from 1985 to ’96, then back to Roth for a brief period in 1996. Gary Cherone bravely stepped in for a three-year stint, then Haggar returned from 2003-05, and Roth replaced him again in 2006. Aren’t rock bands grand!

Van Halen’s music is evocative of a rock and roll train, with a steady, ever-present, driving beat on which fantastic guitar riffs are built. The bass contributes as do harmonic rock vocals and interesting song concepts. In 2007, Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band’s latest album is Tokyo Dome Live in Concert, recorded at a 2013 gig in Japan and released in March of this year. Van Halen comes to First Niagara Pavilion with (remember, now) David Lee Roth on lead vocals, and the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band opening. 7:30 p.m. 665 Pennsylvania Rt. 18, Burgettstown.

 

2) Hozier, born Andrew Hozier-Byrne, was arguably pop music’s most pleasant surprise in fall 2014. The 25-year-old Irish singer-songwriter looks like he works at some cool coffee shop, what with the ponytail and facial hair, but he sings in the tradition of Robert Johnson and Howlin’ Wolf. Shortly after his self-titled debut went platinum in his home country, he was playing “Saturday Night Live,” and his inescapable single, “Take Me to Church,” was raking up views on YouTube by the millions. Even Taylor Swift counted herself a fan when she tweeted “Work Song” was the perfect song. A Grammy nomination followed as well as a performance with Annie Lennox at the 2015 Grammy Awards. A new album is reportedly in the works. Until then, Hozier’s success brings him to the Steel City, where he will play Stage AE. Los Angeles folk-rock band Dawes open. Members (and brothers) Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith recently appeared with Elvis Costello and others on Lost on the River: The New Basement Tapes, an album built around old, unused Bob Dylan lyrics. Doors open 6:30 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore. (CM)

3) What were you doing in 1998? Investing in the dotcom bubble, listening to the Goo Goo Dolls, or just trying to make it through kindergarten? If the latter, you might have missed the Adam Sandler movie The Wedding Singer, which captured the bumbling but energetic spirit of the time. The hit comedy was later reverse-engineered into a Broadway musical that’s now being revived by Pittsburgh CLO. Although this version of The Wedding Singer, by Matthew Sklar, Chad Beguelin, and Tim Herlihy, leaves out some signature songs from the movie—notably, the J. Geils Band number “Love Stinks,” which Sandler belts at a wedding gig after his own bride-to-be has left him—plenty of other tunes have been added. There’s more than enough to wake the echoes of those wacky days that kissed the twentieth century goodbye. 8 p.m. Runs through August 2. Benedum Center, 237 7th St., Cultural District. (MV).