I have been meaning to get to a show at the beautiful Ford Theatre near the Hollywood Bowl since first getting FOMO watching someone’s Instagram story of a show there. What better way to break myself in than a one-of-a-kind show of The Bird and The Bee (with rock legend Dave Grohl on drums) doing Van Halen covers?
The Bird and The Bee is the duo of songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin and singer Inara George. Last Friday saw the group release Interpreting the Masters Volume 2: A Tribute to Van Halen (you can check out Andrew Ledford’s awesome review of the record here). They did an album release show in celebration unlike any other. It featured Grohl as well as Justin Meldal-Johnsen, a longtime touring member of Beck’s band. It also featured a brass section and a trio of backup singers, bringing to life Van Halen songs in a completely unique way.
My first step into the Ford Amphitheatre took my breath away. Even the worst seat in the back of the venue is a great view. It’s a seated venue around 1,000 capacity, and it’s built into the beautiful Hollywood Hills. It’s one of the most gorgeous venues I’ve ever been to by far.
The show was just as gorgeous. The Bird and The Bee ran through their new album from front-to-back and it sounded just as nice live as on record. George’s deep-toned vocals gave the Van Halen tunes a vibe like what they would sound like if Chrissie Hynde sang them. Kurstin replaced Eddie Van Halen’s guitar lines with adept keyboard lines and it had the crowd in high spirits.
Always Be My Maybe actor Randall Park came out and did the narrating part of “Hot for Teacher”, including imploring fans to watch his hit Netflix movie. That was certainly a nice touch.
“Jump” was one of the big crowd favorites, with people abandoning their seats and running to the front of the venue. After finishing the song, Dave Grohl took the mic and gave an impassioned speech to fans about feeling together. This was while Kurstin played the piano riff from “Imagine” by John Lennon. Grohl asked the crowd to join together to sing along, and then proceeded to sing the lyrics to “Jump” — which somehow fit the “Imagine” piano line perfectly. It was a crowdpleaser.
Another great moment came when a fan at the front of the crowd had a sign that said “You’re my Diamond Dave, can I have a drumstick” and Dave Grohl came down to the fan and gave her both drumsticks — and a kiss on the cheek.
“Ain’t Talkin’ ’bout Love” was my personal favorite. It was always one of my favorite Van Halen tunes as a kid and hearing this band do it justice with their tweak in a live setting was awesome.
The band closed the Van Halen portion of the set with the one original tune from the record, “Diamond Dave”. It’s a very loungey sounding tune paying homage to the original Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth. It certainly got stuck in my head after just a couple initial listens.
The Bird and The Bee also played some originals from their own catalog, including “Fucking Boyfriend”, a cheeky tune that I remember drawing me to the band initially.
I’ve been to so many shows that sometimes they get lost in my memory. I know this is one that will certainly stick out, not just because of the performance, but because of where it took place.
Photos by Betsy Martinez