Van Halen had a bombastic debut in Peoria.
Fans loved it.
Depends on the viewpoint.
Either way, the debut here did not occur (as reported here last week in an homage to Eddie Van Halen) at the Peoria Civic Center in 1984. Actually, the band first set foot in Peoria at the much smaller Second Chance, in 1978.
That year, Van Halen’s self-titled debut album shook the rock world. But mass fandom didn’t explode until six years later with the "1984" album.
Still, ’78’s "Van Halen World Tour" would always rank as one of the band’s biggest, with 174 shows over 10 months, mostly in America but also in Canada, Japan and Europe. Sometimes, the outfit opened for arena draws like Journey and Black Sabbath. But there were solo gigs, ranging from small halls to county fairgrounds.
That March 3, the tour kicked off in Chicago at the Aragon Ballroom, moving the next day to Springfield’s Nelson Center. The tour, which ended Dec. 3 in San Diego, featured a set list that leaned on just about every song on the first album, plus an occasional tune ("Bottoms Up," "Somebody Get Me a Doctor") that ended up on "Van Halen II" and a smattering of songs that would go unreleased.
Van Halen hit Peoria Aug. 9 at Second Chance, 3300 W. Willow Knolls Drive, now home to Second Chance Church. The Journal Star made no mention of the appearance at the time. But in recent Facebook comments, fans have universally described the show as loud — really loud.
But was it good? Some say the band (especially frontman David Lee Roth) put on an energetic performance that engaged the crowd: "DLR was swinging the mike out over the heads of the audience."
Others say the band seemed somewhat out of it and shut down early. Overall, some fans were disappointed: "We were on the floor, and had to stand on chairs to see anything. They sounded horrible."
Like opinions, memories can differ. But this is clear: from Peoria, Van Halen went on to a pretty decent career.
Phil Luciano is a Journal Star columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com, facebook.com/philluciano and (309) 686-3155. Follow him on Twitter.com/LucianoPhil.