Everyone makes fun of rock 'n' roll reunion tours-and everybody wants to see them.

Everyone makes fun of rock 'n' roll reunion tours-and everybody wants to see them.

Old people trying to do the things they excelled at three decades ago can be a compelling spectacle. After all, who wouldn't pay good money to see the guys from the Carter Administration get together and renegotiate the Panama Canal Treaty? OK, bad example.

You might not be old enough to remember when the Police and Van Halen released their debut albums in 1978, but Daddy Wags is. He joined QFM 96, Columbus's only pure rock station at the time, the following year and recalls how both bands made it into heavy rotation.

The hard-rocking Van Halen slid neatly into the WLVQ playlist, but the reggae-tinged Police were something of a "controversy" at the station, Wags said this week.

"They had the ska thing going for them and the Jamaican beat," he said. "They had weird hair, but not our kind of weird hair. We called it new wave. Do we accept it or not?"

Ultimately, they did, playing the Police's first single, "Roxanne," right along with Van Halen's cover of the Kinks' "You Really Got Me."

Wrought with ego clashes and personality conflicts, neither band survived into the mid 1980s. The Police released its final studio album, Syncronicity, in June of '83. Van Halen put out 1984 about six months later, on New Year's Eve. Both records were huge hits and spawned mammoth tours-and both bands acrimoniously split afterward.

Now, 30 years after they first made the QFM 96 playlist, the Police and Van Halen have reassembled and are coming to Columbus in a span of four days.

The Police will play Nationwide Sunday. Van Halen will be at the Schottenstein Center Wednesday.

Judging from pictures, the Police don't look that much different than they did on the Syncronicity tour.

But the years haven't been as kind to the three original members of Van Halen. Guitarist Eddie Van Halen, his brother, drummer Alex Van Halen, and singer David Lee Roth all look as if they've been left out in the sun a little too long. Original bassist Michael Anthony has been replaced by Eddie's son, Wolfgang.

Yes, he named his child Wolfgang. That's what alcohol abuse can do to a family.

The good news is tickets are still available. The bad news? They're kind of pricey.

Van Halen tix are going from $47 to $147. Seats for the Police range from $52 to $227. One assumes that for $227, a fan would get to sit on the stage and play rhythm guitar.

Wags, as a hotshot rock 'n' roll DJ, doesn't have to pay for his tickets. And yet he's not going to either show.

"I've seen the Police and Van Halen," he said. "I have a rule: My law of diminishing returns."

His theory is that once you've seen a band at its best, its better to keep that memory than to set yourself up for disappointment by seeing the same band again.

In the meantime, you might benefit from some comparisons between the two groups to help you choose which overpriced concert to attend. After all, the economy's in the toilet, so chances are you can't afford tickets to both.

Unless you can get Wags to fork over his free ones.

Crucial celebrity supporter

• The Police were signed by the brother of drummer Stewart Copeland, Miles Copeland III, who happened to be head of A&M records.

• Van Halen was discovered by Kiss bassist Gene Simmons, who wore makeup and had a long tongue.

Advantage: Van Halen

Song about classroom lust

• The Police's "Don't Stand So Close to Me" is about a teacher who wants to have sex with his student.

• Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher," is about a student who wants to have sex with his teacher.

Advantage: The Police

Literary references

• The Police directly allude to Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita in "Don't Stand So Close to Me," "Tea in the Sahara" is based on Paul Bowles's book, The Sheltering Sky, and "Roxanne" is based on Edmond Rostand's play, Cyrano de Bergerac.

• Van Halen compares a woman to cartoon character Betty Boop in "Drop Dead Legs."

Advantage: The Police

Song about relations with inanimate objects

• The Police's "Be My Girl" is about a man's intimate relationship with an inflatable doll.

• Van Halen's "Panama" is about a man's intimate relationship with his car.

Advantage: The Police

Singer's nickname

• Gordon Sumner was nicknamed "Sting" because of a black and yellow striped sweater that made him look like a bumblebee.

• Roth's nickname is "Diamond Dave." He probably gave it to himself.

Advantage: The Police

Touring requirements

• The Police constantly put their audience through painfully long versions of "So Lonely" and "Roxanne."

• In order to determine whether the band's entire touring contract had been read, Van Halen demanded that venues remove all brown M&Ms from the dressing room candy spread.

Advantage: Van Halen

Singer's sexploits

• It has become something of an urban legend that Sting and his wife, Trudie Styler, have intercourse for seven or eight hours at a time through tantra, a form of yoga. Styler, meanwhile, told Howard Stern the couple enjoys swinger parties.

• Roth was the first rock star to take out paternity insurance, shielding himself from lawsuits from women claiming to be bearing his children.

Advantage: The Police

Appearance on somebody else's hit single

• Sting sang "I Want My MTV" throughout the song "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits.

• Eddie Van Halen performed the guitar solo on Michael Jackson's "Beat It."

Advantage: Van Halen


• At some point during the Syncronicity tour in 1983, Sting became aware of the fact that there were two other, lesser, individuals performing onstage with him.

• Increasingly annoyed with Roth, Eddie Van Halen asked Gene Simmons about joining Kiss in 1982. Simmons talked him into staying with the group. Roth was unhappy with the synthesizers used prominently on 1984 and released a solo album the following year. He then told Van Halen he was going to star in a movie based on his record. As Eddie told Rolling Stone at the time, "I cried, then I called my brother and told him the motherfucker quit."

Advantage: Van Halen

Post-breakup collaborations

• Sting inexplicably joined Bryan Adams and Rod Stewart to sing the syrupy theme song to The Three Musketeers, "All for Love."

• The Van Halen brothers inexplicably chose B-list rocker Sammy Hagar to replace Roth as lead vocalist for a full decade.

Advantage: Police

Previous reunion attempt

• The Police reassembled to record new versions of their singles for their 1986 greatest-hits album. After finishing only one track, they remembered they couldn't stand each other and went their separate ways.

• Roth joined Van Halen in the studio to record a couple of new songs for the band's 1996 greatest-hits album. After the four original band members appeared together at the MTV Video Music Awards, they remembered they couldn't stand each other and went their separate ways.

Advantage: Van Halen

Talk show careers

• Police guitarist Andy Summers was musical director for the short-lived Dennis Miller Show in 1992.

• Roth was the host of the short-lived David Lee Roth Show, which aired for less than five months on CBS radio as the intended replacement for Howard Stern in 2006. Rolling Stone critic Rob Sheffield declared the show "skin-crawlingly awful," adding, "Listening to Roth, you feel actual physical pain."

Advantage: The Police

Movie appearances

• Sting starred in several forgotten 1980s films, including Brimstone and Treacle, Dune and The Bride.

• A memorable scene from the 1985 John Cusack movie, Better off Dead, featured an animated hamburger playing an Eddie Van Halen-style guitar singing the Van Halen song, "Everybody Wants Some."

Advantage: Van Halen

Hall of Fame induction

• The Police were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003 and played three songs together for their first public performance in 18 years.

• Van Halen was inducted in 2007. Eddie did not attend the ceremony because he was in alcohol rehabilitation, so Alex did not come either. Roth didn't appear because of a disagreement about which song he would perform. So only Hagar and Anthony, both of whom had been kicked out of the band, showed up to accept the honor.

Advantage: The Police


The Police, 8; Van Halen, 6

Or, of course, you could pay $35 to see My Chemical Romance at the LC Sunday night.