On a cold and rainy night in October, legendary rockers Van Halen stormed through the Worcester Centrum to heat up the atmosphere in a pre-Halloween show. After a three-year absence from the music scene, the boys bounced back and regained their title as one of rock’s most famous bands.

Supporting their newest album, the cleverly titled “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge,” Van Halen gave their fans a brighter, more back-to-basics sound: more guitars, less keyboards. Their concert at the Centrum was an energetic, rocking (not to mention loud) show. The set list drew heavily from recent material, including the opener “Poundcake,” the head-banging anthem “Judgment Day,” and the chant-along chorus of “Runaround.” The only classic performed for the hardcore Van Halen fans was the raucous version of Roth-era “Jump” during the encore.

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A large portion of the show allowed for the rather mediocre solos, the best ones were performed by the Van Halen brothers. Alex Van Halen’s ear-clamoring drum thunder shook the roof, only to be capped off by a blinding burst of fireworks. Eddie’s searing guitar solo, with a multitude of hammer-on effects, truly captivated the crowd’s attention. Indeed, the sell-out audience was witnessing a monstrous performance.

In short, I can only say that Van Halen are at their finest ever in their 14-year, nine-album career. As to the continuing “Is Sammy Hagar Better Than Dave?” question, you have to witness the band live to decide for yourself. A Van Halen performance is like no other band in the universe. They are true legends. n