LOS ANGELES -- Being a rock journalist is not as fun as it used to be -- what is, these days? -- but a special moment arrived Wednesday when Van Halen, arguably the greatest American rock band of all-time, played a private show for an intimate crowd of about 300 in a special promotional event at a Hollywood rehearsal studio -- with free gourmet food, an open bar and unlimited chocolate treats thrown in.

The legendary band featuring singer David Lee Roth and guitarist Eddie Van Halen has a new album entitled "A Different Kind of Truth" that drops Tuesday, plus an arena tour beginning Feb. 18, so this was a celebration -- and a final tune-up -- of good things to come, as the group has found new life since the utterly flamboyant Roth rejoined four years ago.

Eddie Van Halen plays a private show with his band Van Halen at a Hollywood rehearsal studion on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012. (Gerry Gittelson/Los Angeles
Eddie Van Halen plays a private show with his band Van Halen at a Hollywood rehearsal studion on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012. (Gerry Gittelson/Los Angeles Daily News)

There the band was, close enough to touch. Roth was his rock-god self as if 20,000 spectators were in attendance, and Eddie, truly an amazing musician, entertained with pitch-perfect riffs and unforgettable solos.

Van Halen played an hour set featuring most of the biggest hits like "Ain't Talkin' Bout Love," "Runnin' With the Devil," "Everybody Wants Some," "Hot For Teacher" and of course "Jump," while also treating us to a few new songs including the snappy new single "Tattoo."

During "Ice Cream Man," Roth, 56, opened his heart and did some reminiscing, reminding everyone of the days Van Halen was first playing at Gazzarri's (now the Key Club) on the Sunset Strip and how he used to enjoy hot dogs at Pink's, located a few doors down the road on La Brea Avenue.

The group is just starting up again, but the foursome (rounded out by drummer Alex Van Halen and 20-year-old bassist Wolfgang Van Halen) was in top form. The tempos were perfect, the volume was on 10, and Roth, still sliced and wearing a fancy leather, studded outfit, was spot-on, doing a fine job staying in key and not missing a single word.

Oh, this one was fun. Another hour or so would have been truly perfect, but nevertheless, this was an evening to remember forever.


gerry.gittelson@dailynews.com