By now I’m sure that many of you have seen or heard the reports and the lambasting of the debut or initial performance of Motley Crue’s All Bad Things Must Come To An End tour. I’m not gonna say that they’re overly harsh or incorrect for the most part. I was there, I know. Here’s my story of Wednesday July 2nd, 2014.
A friend and I set out on an approximately six hour road trip, very reminiscent of high school road trips in a beat up old car with tunes cranked and snacks in hand, from Toronto Canada to Grand Rapids Michigan. Upon arrival and check in at our hotel we met some other Crue fans from Ontario for a couple of drinks before the short walk over to Van Andel Arena. In a parking lot across the road there was a cordoned off area set up with a bar, tables and a stage with presumably a local band belting out some tunes. I got the feeling it was similar to the tailgate party before an NFL game, but in any case the excitement was high and it’s certainly something you wouldn’t see in Toronto. The time on the tickets indicated 7pm, yet the entrance line was already
around the building at 6pm as we weaved around the protestors toting signs, also something that you wouldn’t see in Toronto. After wandering around a little we discovered another, smaller entrance with a very short line and wasted no time in getting into the arena. The merchandise booth was terribly over crowded as I strained to see what was available. Giving up, with a plan to return later, we hurried into the actual auditorium as the opening band took the stage. In a growing trend of concerts of late that I’ve noticed on several occasions, the opening band begins substantially before the time printed on the tickets! This is ridiculous! In the old days it would be printed Doors: 7pm on the ticket and the show would start at 7:30 or 8pm or Show: 7pm to indicate the starting time. Having the opening band take stage at 6:40pm (20 mins before the time printed on the t
icket) is extremely annoying. In any case The Raskins played a half hour opening set and they were not overly impressive in my mind. Our seats, however, were awesome, 24 rows back from the stage on the floor! The tickets, that surely would have cost well over $600 if you can get past all the pre-sales to get them in Toronto, we got for only $125 three weeks before the event!
|Alice Cooper-photo by The Meister|
I was looking forward to Alice Cooper, having just seen him perform a two and a half hour show at Sweden Rock Festival. Unfortunately tonight he was only scheduled for 50 minutes of stage time, but it turns out that he would be a show stealer. The approaching 70 year old was a consummate professional and ripped through the condensed setlist with almost no dead air between songs and all the stage tricks that you would expect from The Alice Cooper show. Behind a backdrop sheet of Alice Cooper’s eyes “The Underture” emanated as the curtain gave way to “Hello Hooray”. From there it was into “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and Alice Cooper’s newest member, guitarist Nita Strauss seemed ecstatic to be there and the most active at this early stage in the game. Replacing the departed Orianthi, Strauss (Femme Fatale/Iron Maidens/L.A. Kiss) joins drummer Glen Sobel (Sixx A.M.), bassist Chuck Garic (Beasto Blanco) and other guitarists Ryan Roxie (Slash’s Snakepit) and Tommy Henriksen (Warlock) to make up Alice Cooper’s backing band. “Under My Wheels” led us through to “I’m Eighteen” which saw Cooper holding court around the stage wielding a crutch high above his head. This was followed by “Billion Dollar Babies” for which, as he did in Sweden, Alice appeared toting a sword filled with bills. A quick flick of the rapier sent bills, no doubt featuring Alice Cooper’s face, into the first few rows of the crowd. The late 80’s smash hit “Poison” was next up bringing us to
|Alice Cooper-photo by The Meister|
“Dirty Diamonds” which saw The Coop tossing necklaces into the crowd. The King of Shock Rock next treated us to “Welcome to My Nightmare” before appearing in a bloodied white lab coat for “Feed My Frankenstein” during which Cooper was strapped down and transformed into a large Frankenstein monster. “The Ballad of Dwight Fry” saw him in a straight jacket, bursting out and stabbing his nurse for which his head was severed in a huge guillotine. Alice Cooper’s head was then paraded around the stage as an intro to the song “I Love the Dead”, a stunt that never gets old! The closer of “School’s Out” featured some huge balloons, the introductions of the band and even a little of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In the Wall” before wrapping up. An incredible show as I had expected and I think, even better than his show in Sweden.
|Motley Crue’s All Bad Things Must Come To An End Tour-photo by The Meister|
The house lights darkened and a recorded intro began to emanate through the PA system. Motley Crue blasted into “Motherfucker of the Year” as their first song, one that’s less than a favorite of mine and I think a poor choice for an opener. Things picked up steam with “Wild Side” and the stage was graced by two scantily clad ladies helping out with the background vocals. In general the
|Vince Neil-photo by The Meister|
Crue seemed to be sloppier in comparison to Cooper and Vince’s vocals were not the best by any means, but what do you expect? Vince Neil’s vocals have been talked about for a long time now and let’s face it, with the history of the band members, they’re playing is not the tightest, but that’s not why you go to see Motley Crue! If you want that style of performance go and see Rush, if you want a good time and a great party and a spectacle of a show to blow your mind, you go see Motley Crue! It was by the end of the third song, “Primal Scream” that things would begin to go really awry for the boys. The song featured lots and lots of super high flame pyro and smoke bombs/machines timed to the music of the chorus and they were actually sounding pretty good until we approached the end of the song. Drummer Tommy Lee had an issue, apparently a broken kick drum, but hey, these things happen. Vince Neil even exclaimed “Tommy broke it!” and commented on the issues of the first night of a tour. Neil then asked the crowd for 3 or 4 minutes to fix the issue and to fill the dead air while they scrambled to repair the drum Mick Mars took center stage to perform one of the most uninspiring guitar solos I’ve ever seen. By the end of the solo, which did not completely fill the repair time leaving some dead air and the house lights a notch higher, he was simply playing riffs and chords. The guitar solo silenced at 9:33pm and it wasn’t until the lights dimmed at 9:42pm as Vince returned to the stage toting a guitar were we underway once again. Technical issues can strike at any time and are completely understandable, but as a professional act I think they could have done a
|Motley Crue-photo by The Meister|
better job of covering the issue and keeping the momentum going with having Vince or Tommy addressing the crowd perhaps. “Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)” went through without a hitch and then into “Looks That Kill” featuring the lady dancers in light boxes behind the drum kit. They successfully pulled off a deeper cut from the Too Fast For Love album, “On With The Show”, but the follow up however was a different story. Guitarist Mick Mars blew the beginning of “Too Fast For Love” prompting a jibe from Tommy Lee to the effect of “It’s pretty fuckin’ cool when a band forgets it’s own song! It’s “Too Fast For Love” and it’s only 35 years old!” On the second attempt “Too Fast For Love” was delivered and a new composition, “All Bad Things Must End”, followed, but it didn’t last long. No further than 30 seconds into the song and the guitars went out. I don’t know if Mars forgot the notes again or if it was a technical issue, but the house lights came on again to full brightness this time. I vacated my seat during this stoppage to use the washroom and before long they were back up and running once again but talk about a momentum killer! That would seem to be the worst of the issues and the latter half of the show went much better as they ripped into “Smokin’ In the Boys Room”, “Without You” close on it’s heels. Vince Neil looked confused and maybe annoyed during “Without You” as confetti fluttered from the rafters, but that didn’t stop him from serenading a lady from the audience as she was pulled on stage to sit on a lone chair. The boys exploded into “Saints Of Los Angeles” next featuring lots of flame pyro once again that you could feel the heat from where I was seated 24 rows back! Nikki Sixx took the mic for what I’m sure was intended to be a touching
|Tommy Lee’s Drum Coaster-photo by Meister|
moment that just came off awkward and annoying. He called for everyone to sit as we were attending a funeral for Motley Crue, but we hardly parked our butts in the seats before he instructed: “On four scream and we’ll break into a Sex Pistols song ’cause that’s how the Crue does it!”…..uuuhhh Nikki, that doesn’t even make sense! Never-the-less we were served “Anarchy in the U.K.” followed by “Too Young to Fall in Love” before the stage went dark again and a recorded intro played. The recording seemed to go on forever and with all the earlier issues I wondered what was next, but eventually it was apparent that the stalling was designed to get Tommy Lee strapped into his newest drum gimmick. This time he rode a roller coaster that stretched along the ceiling of the venue out over the crowd to a small satellite stage at the rear of the floor seating area. No doubt about it this was a cool trick as the kit spun 360 degrees as it slowly traveled over the audience. What I didn’t enjoy however was the mash up mix of recorded music that he played to during this journey, including songs from artists like Bob Marley, Jay Z and Rage Against the Machine. I understand how it must be difficult to play spinning in the air, but if you’re going to use a recording to play to why not perform this solo during a Crue song even if much of it is recorded? It would certainly be better than what we heard Tommy play along to
|“Home Sweet Home”-photo by Meister|
and maybe the whole thing wouldn’t have seemed like the colossal waste of time that it really was. Nikki Sixx was the highlight of “Shout at the Devil” with his flame throwing bass guitar preceding “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)”. Throughout the whole show the two dancing girls were present for just about every song in a different costume and I had the thought that they were the most organized thing about the whole affair! “Live Wire”, “Dr. Feelgood” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” were all a hit with the crowd and the booing from earlier seemed long forgotten as they ate up every minute. “Kickstart My Heart” closed things down under the huge lighted pentagram suspended above the stage with tons of flame pyro and smoke bombs. In fact the smoke was so thick by the end of the song and the final bow that it was difficult to see the stage at all! Motley Crue returned for a one song encore of the ballad “Home Sweet Home” which they performed on the small satellite stage near the rear of the floor area.
One thing cannot be denied and that’s the totally over-the-top stage show at a Motley Crue concert and even with all of tonight’s issues there’s a kind of magic with these four guys on stage. Bottom line is this: you shouldn’t be going to a Crue concert to see the most technical and perfect performance, if you want that go and see a band like Rush! You go to a Crue show for the spectacle, to have a good time and let loose with some of the music that helped shape your life. And that’s just what I did, it may have been messy at times but over all I had fun and that’s what Crue is all about to me! It will be interesting to see what the show is like in August as they roll into Toronto!