By Dan Snierson
October 03, 2007 at 06:38 PM EDT

How much do you love the ’80s (and late ’70s)? Probably enough to notice that Van Halen have just launched a 40-date tour with David Lee Roth. In fact, they’re already three shows in and they haven’t broken up yet! For a review of the Charlotte concert on Sept. 27— the band’s first with Roth in almost 23 years — check out Friday’s issue of EW. In the meantime, I present eight points of interest from kickoff night.

(1) Sobriety seems to be treating Mr. Squealy well. Yessir, at age 52, Ed shreds.

(2) Things that David Lee Roth played: Maracas, tambourine, guitar, harmonica. Things that David Lee Roth rode like a bull: Oversize inflatable microphone.

(3) Wolfgang Van Halen is the best 16-year-old replacement bassist for a major rock band that I’ve ever heard. If we unqualify that, he’s still pretty good.

(4) That said, we must have a moment of silence for this tour’s lack of Michael Anthony-ness. Mikey, if that upcoming tour with Sammy Hagar doesn’t pan out, you can play the hell out of your Jack Daniels bass and sing like an metal angel at my house anytime. (Sundays and Mondays are no good for me.  Also Thursdays.)

(5) Number of bass drums in Alex Van Halen’s drum set: Don’t know; lost count after four.

(6) Number of punches Eddie and Dave threw at each other: 0. Number of happy-good-time looks they threw at each other: A lot. To quote from Women And Children First, could this be magic? And if so, will Lloyd’s of London insure it?

(7) (WARNING: Set list spoilers ahead.) The Top 5 Oh-Man-I-Can’t-Believe-They’re-Playing-That! Surprises: 1. “Atomic Punk” 2. “I’m the One” 3. “Little Guitars” 4. “I’ll Wait” 5. “So This Is Love?”

(8) Before the show started, I decided to play a little game called Spot As Many Rock Band T-Shirts As You Can. Here’s what the fans were wearing: Van Halen (duh), David Lee Roth (semi-duh), The Atomic Punks (amazing Roth-era VH cover band, by the way), Ratt, Motley Crue, Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Black Sabbath, Down, Rush, Godsmack, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Tesla, KISS, Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Foreigner, Alice In Chains, Boston, Pantera, Guns N Roses, Black Label Society, Metallica, Styx, Dave Matthews Band, Journey, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, The Police, Grateful Dead, Triumph, The Allman Brothers Band, Testament, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Keith Urban (really?) and Run DMC (really?). I did also see someone in a protest t-shirt that read “It Ain’t Van Halen Without Michael Anthony,” and there was a picture of Anthony on a milk carton with the slogan “Got Mike?” Made me chuckle. Poignantly.

What are your thoughts on this plus-Roth-minus-Anthony tour, PopWatchers? What songs are you dying to hear? And if you went to one of the first few VH shows, did your world get rocked again? What’s the most random band shirt you’ve worn to a concert?

addCredit(“Van Halen: Kevin Mazur/”)