Seminal rock band Van Halen played a cramped basement club in Greenwich Village on Thursday (January 5, 2012), leaving hundreds of fans huddled around the venue's back door listening out for their biggest hits, according to the New York Times. The band played 'Cafe Wha?' on MacDougal Street, with a team of bouncers waiting outside and metal barriers set up around the perimeter.
The band had invited "every music writer in the city" to the event, with scores of hardened fans left waiting outside. Celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon and John McEnroe were also seen in attendance as the band - best known for filling huge arenas - ripped through hits like Panama and Hot For Teacher. Frontman David Lee Roth opened the hour-long set by yelling, "Welcome to Occupy Van Halen, ladies and gentleman!", before adding, "I'm more nervous about this gig than I would ever be in the Garden", referring to Madison Square Garden. Cafe Wha, owned by Roth's uncle Manny, has been a staple of the New York live years for years - playing host to greats such as Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground, Bruce Springsteen and comedians Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor. Somewhat ironically, the reason for playing the 250 seat club was to announce a new U.S. tour which will take in 45 cities including Louisville, Boston, Atlanta and Chicago. The band also confirmed they will release album 'A Different Kind of Truth' on February 7, 2012 - their first with Roth since 1984. The singer famously left the band to go solo in 1985, being replaced by Sammy Hagar in a messy breakup. He returned after a similarly acrimonious exit by Hagar, but the band had further turmoil to come - replacing bassist Michael Anthony with Wolfgang Van Halen, the son of guitarist EDDIE VAN HALEN.
Exiting to the stage to wild cheers both in and outside the club, Roth joked, "The last time I stood on a stage this low, I had to get the car home by midnight".