Mötley Crüe – The Final Tour: “All Bad Things Must Come To An End” - A Review
Review -July 29, 2014
The Sleep Train Amphitheater exploded Tuesday night in a fireball of former bad boy Rock & Roll. The long winded histories of Alice Cooper and Mötley Crüe combined to deliver a pair of high octane performances that have me wondering why anyone would openly state that they were bringing this live rock & roll ride to an end. I get that times are different, economic struggles are a major factor, so is age, and an inability to create new material that audiences identify with and love as much as a band’s historical content; but still...
I mean Alice Cooper hit the stage with more energy and showmanship than, arguably, any other artist on the planet. Complete with cane, makeup, costume changes, a snake, and a guillotine, Alice came to Rock and man he tore the house apart. It didn’t matter whether he was playing “School’s Out,” “18,” “Feed My Frankenstein,” “Poison,” or “No More Mr. Nice Guy” Alice demonstrated that even at 66 years of age, if you can bring the Rock you can keep right on Rolling.
Conversely Mötley Crüe is the latest band to claim that they’re hanging it up. That they’re only going, once more around the ride. Ticket sales seem to be good, and the Sleep Train venue’s solid capacity, on a Tuesday night, is a strong indication that fans want to share in their final bow. Now a number of bands have claimed this, KISS, Judas Priest, and The Scorpions to name a few, and each has seen such a turnout for the event that they’ve each in turn claimed a renewed interest in touring. Each band has produced new music followed by tours in support of.
However, Mötley Crüe is the first band to sign a document claiming to never again return to the touring stage. Their claim seems legit, but we’ve heard the words before. Yet this claim or document does nothing to negate the creation of new music or squash an opportunity to play one-off shows or a Vegas residency. Thankfully too, because this show was pretty cool and a future hope of getting the Saints of Los Angeles to play a few nights performing a record or two in their entirety is friggin’ Sweet!
Be that only possible future as it may, the boys tonight were electric. Opening strong with “Saints of Los Angeles” and ‘Wild Side”, Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, and Tommy Lee screamed across the stage claiming their throne by plowing, Head Down Horns Up. The two L.A. nightmare stunners culminated in a stage of rotating red and blue police lights and wailing sirens. As muddied as the sound was, it was also big and freaking loud. I felt like I’d just been punched in the face by Rock.
“Primal Scream” kept the nightmare train rolling with a chorus of shouts from the crowd; while “Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)” batted 4th. A set of classics from the early 80’s would follow, “Looks That Kill,” “On With the Show” (a personal non-live favorite), and “Too Fast For Love”; these last two from the band’s first album. During this set lead singer Vince Neil heralded the audience with thanks for celebrating 33 years of Mötley music. Consider that salute returned my good man. This segued into the beloved Brownsville Station cover, “Smokin’ in the Boys Room.”
Before “Without You” Vince told a brief story about how many a couple used the song in their weddings, and in true Mötley form, spoke to the audience about fucking your girlfriend in the car after a Mötley show to the same tune; that some in the audience may have even been conceived in just such a scenario. I guess that makes the placement of the following song, “Motherfucker of the Year” just about right.
After the lyrical love-fest, Nikki took the microphone and the band nixed their new song, “All Bad Things” for a story-time break. Nikki gave a 5+ minute low down on the beginnings of the band in 1981. How they each came together, their drive for success and excess, and their love for punk rock and heavy metal. Oddly enough this didn’t see the audience heading for the bathrooms or beer stands. They stood with Nikki and took the history all in, nostalgically or otherwise. The band immediately broke into their next cover, the appropriate but non-interesting, “Anarchy in the U.K.” and brought any recently wayward crowd members around with a little “T.N.T. (Terror ‘N Tinseltown)” and “Dr. Feelgood.”
After which the stage went black, a red pentagram lit the side screens and the first ethereal voicing of “In the Beginning” could be heard. The audience was in an uproar as “Shout At the Devil” kicked in and Nikki played across the stage with a flame throwing bass guitar; gimmicky sure, but also pretty Rock & Roll.
Cut to: Vince and an acoustic guitar, Vince and an axe never worked for me but I digress, leading the way to “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away).”
Right about this time, the stage lights go out and the drums themselves lit up for Tommy Lee’s drum solo. Seat belted to his rig, the drum riser slowly makes its way up a curved track that ends a good 30feet or so above the general admission audience; he calls it the “Cobra” for its serpentine design. There really isn’t much to note here about the physical action itself. The drum riser spun forward in a complete 360 and saw Tommy playing in every degree of the turn.
What I do want to comment on is the choice of music Tommy played to. This wasn’t just a drum solo but a bit of driving karaoke where Tommy supplied the beat for a series of mostly dance and rap tunes ending with a heavy but danceable Rage Against the Machine groove from “Take the Power Back.” In the end it was fine, not spectacular, and I couldn’t help but wonder what the band thought about hearing this dance music fill the amphitheater at a Mötley Crüe show. I know what I thought, “not a perfect or unnecessary piece, just odd.”
Mick Mars took the stage left spot next for his guitar solo, mostly a warbled mix of noise rather than a straight ahead old school solo. Mick’s a great guitarist and was shredding all night but this…? Again, the odd fit I guess; I don’t know, I went and took a piss.
Rounding the final bend the band raged through 4 perennial classics, “Live Wire,” “Too Young to Fall in Love,” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” (the show was sadly missing a Boobie Cam), and “Kickstart My Heart.” The powerhouse grouping solidified that this band of brothers, raunchy as they are, still got it. Mötley Crüe came, they saw, and then they kicked our ass.
The lights went out as the band left the stage. The audience stood in the dark awaiting the encore. A few moments later a single spotlight hit the center of the audience and revealed a small stage set up right before the luxury boxes. The four band members stood there. Tommy took a seat at a small piano, and the first notes of “Home Sweet Home” began.
The audience was awash with a sudden emotion. The reality of Mötley Crüe leaving the touring stage settled in as we shared one last song. “Sing it!”, Vince cried as the first chorus began. There’s a heavy dose of schlock here as the stage seemed to rise with the audience’s voices; I’m sure that was intended. At its peak the four members of Mötley Crüe said their final goodbyes while video screens of their storied past played on the side-screens. Tommy from his small drum kit, Mick through his classic guitar solo, Vince, “We are gonna miss you fuckers, man.”, and Nikki who tossed me a Peace sign, not exactly \m/ but a fitting enough “adieu”, as he walked past the luxury boxes where I was camped.
In the end despite all the broo-ha-ha about what a great show it was, it was not without faults. The bulk of which had to do with a muddied sound. Imagine a thick wall of sound rubbing itself like someone else’s hands, vigorously over your ears. It’s a lot like a warbled jumble of noise with these killer moments of clear ripping guitar or a classic Vince Neil scream. Seriously, when each band member was isolated in the mix, they sounded fantastic. Cohesively, the amphitheater sound was a mixed palate. I hope a future dvd release of the final tour will clear up the audio.
The other noticeable trait is Vince Neil’s vocals. In my opinion, Vince did a heck of a job. He didn’t forget or slur words nor did he fall drunkenly off the stage. In fact the band looked and sounded like they were in great shape, and these guys are all in their 50’s, Mick is 63. Yet 90 minutes of stage work will wind a man. As a result, Vince is known for not singing all of the words to a song; usually hitting a few key words in a line. For Example; “He’s the Wolf, Lonely in the Night, Bloodstain on the Sta-a-age” This is not an exact recreation but literally the fact of Vince’s vocals during a Crüe show, and you know what, I don’t have a problem with it.
These guys are doing one hell of a job on stage and a few words dropped for 80-90% of a song sung, in Key, is worth it to me. The converse is Rob Halford who hits every word and every note he ever wrote, but who also rarely works a stage anymore. Rob’s stated himself, that keeping that type of performance up comes with a sacrifice. Vince’s sacrifice is no different and if you missed Mötley Crüe’s “Final Tour” performance, you may never have to bitch about sitting through it again.
Matthew Gilbert © 1999-2015 All Rights Reserved
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