Runnin' with the Devil
Original Artist: Van Halen
Original Album: Van Halen (1978)
Historian: Martin Acaster
"Runnin' with the Devil," the first song on Van Halen’s self-titled debut album may well be the musical genotype for every glam-rock/hair-metal band to come out of southern California since the late ‘70s. Featuring the cocksure swagger of front man David Lee Roth and the pyrotechnic hammer-on guitar wizardry of Eddie Van Halen, the band invented a musical style which initiated their meteoric rise to rock-n-roll mega-stardom. This ascent peaked, for the VH purist, with the release of their synchronologically titled album 1984. Phish played “Runnin’ with the Devil” as an encore on 8/6/98. This performance was another example of the 1998 “summer under the covers” habit where the band learned a new cover tune backstage shortly before coming on stage to perform it. Though lacking the egotistical vamping and hyper-pharyngeal screams of Diamond Dave, the Phish version of “Runnin’ with the Devil” was fundamentally true to the Van Halen version. Perhaps to make a statement regarding compositional virtuosity, the cover was followed with an abbreviated version of “YEM” which featured teases of Eddie’s solo riff from the tune.