Van Halen played a show at a tiny NYC club last night, and nailed it

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According to lots and lots of sources, anyway — including original front man David Lee Roth himself (decked out in a pair of tan Carhartt overalls), who declared it, "unarguably one of the best gigs of the career." It's funny to imagine the legendary heavy metal arena rockers in such a small, classy setting as Greenwich Village's Cafe Wha?, but it sounds like Eddie Van Halen had no interest in tempering his guitar pyrotechnics, nor did Diamond Dave neglect to deliver his classic one-liners (e.g., at the end of the show, “The limos are being readied, the bathrobes are being prepared, the groupies are being undressed").

And the 250 journalists and industry people who were crammed shoulder-to-shoulder in the tiny club seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Mark Graham at VH1 Tuner writes:

"'So,' you’re probably asking by this point, 'HOW DID THEY ACTUALLY SOUND?' Well, from our vantage point — we stood roughly five feet away from Eddie where he stood stage left— they sounded TOTALLY tremendous. Classics like “Running With The Devil,” “Somebody Get Me A Doctor” and “Everybody Wants Some” were especially muscular, rattling the bones and eardrums of everyone in attendance, and their aural frequencies were perfectly pitched to tap into your brain’s nostalgia and pleasure centers. Eddie’s frenzied fretwork remains a thing to behold; the way he’s able to coax sonic textures from his single electric guitar puts most normal bands that feature both rhythm and lead guitars to shame. And while there’s no use pretending that David Lee Roth can hit the upper registers like he could thirtysome years ago, he innately understands his vocal range; all of his vocals tonight sounded rich, full and passionate in a way that bodes very well for the band’s impending world tour."

Which is pretty awesome. People don't usually expect comebacks to actually rival the quality of what they're coming back from, even though this year has actually been replete with quite a few solid returns and reunions. At the show, Van Halen only played one new song ("She's The Woman"), but they also announced the dates of their 2012 tour and the title and release date ("A Different Kind of Truth," Feb. 7) of their first album with Roth since 1984.

If only lowly Nerve bloggers (who happened to be RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER from Cafe Wha? last night) were invited to such mythical events. Alas. Here's a video of them performing "Panama" to tide you and me over.