Motley Crue w/Alice Cooper
December 8th, 2015
Target Center – Minneapolis, MN.
Motley F’n Crue. The Final Tour. As they like to say all bad things must end. Shout At The Devil was the first album I ever purchased before hearing. Being 13, my music landscape was pretty much KISS and Hall & Oates (don’t judge). But I was ready for something new and looking at the cover of Shout At The Devil something with the confluence of the band’s name, the album’s cover and my recent malcontent tendencies, it was the perfect storm so to speak. I’m not even sure I realized how good that record was for a couple of years. Nonetheless Motley Crue became MY BAND. And even as they found new ways to incentivize me bailing on the band I held my end of the bargain by purchasing every record they released from that day. You’re welcome Motley Crue.
You probably know by now that they are on their Final Tour. Going so far as to sign a cessation of touring contract. And while I know it’s no coincidence that no one outside the band and the lawyer who slapped it together has seen that piece of paper, I can tell you now at some point they will record some music or do a Las Vegas residency or a one off festival date and they will be lumped in as one of those bands that retire and unretire all the time. The Rolling Stones have never announced a farewell tour much less came back. KISS retired and then unretired exactly once. How many times have those two bands been used as examples of constant flip flopping. All I’ve seen reported about the Motley contract was they were never going to tour again. And for some reason I believe them. I guess we’ll see.
This would be my first time seeing them since 1987 on the Girls, Girls, Girls tour. I have seen Vince solo at least three times since then. Between his inability to breathe while singing and a sort of personal feeling of out-growing much of their catalog I never felt the need to catch another show. But pressures at home got me to at least consider going when they came through town in November of 2014 as well as last August. So when they announced one last show for December it seemed the Rock Gods were telling me something.
No band from the 80’s lived as hard as Motley. Every one of them is an addict, criminal or social pariah of some sort. While it takes an amazing amount of willpower to keep my eyeballs from rolling out of my head every time Ozzy spouts how he should be dead ten times over, it truly is amazing that all four of the members of Motley Crue are alive. Or at least in the general population. Mick Mars is the closest they can offer to a straight edge and he can barely keep from tipping over from the weight of his guitar. Combine the overall health, ability and the fact that they don’t all actually like each other that much, it’s no surprise they are teaming up for one last cash grab before riding off into the sunset. Each in their own limo with a silhouette of a giant middle finger sticking out the window.
The show starts with that nauseating song from the Sound Of Music “So Long, Farewell” playing over the PA. I get the juxtaposition but I can’t help but think of that dreadful von Trapp family running from the Nazi’s with song and dance. As the lights go down Mick Mars is wheeled out and propped up in his spot stage left as you see the shadow of Tommy Lee settle into his kit and before you know it they’ve slammed through “Girls, Girls, Girls” and set much of the stage on fire. Over the course of the two years of this tour much has been made of the band. Vince can’t sing. Nikki’s bass parts are piped in the mix. Tommy’s dick gets stuck in the hi-hat. The typical shit. So what did I think?
I thought the band sounded great. Starting with the unsung hero of the 80’s Sunset Strip era Mr. Mick Mars. He may not be George Lynch but he’s also not C.C. Deville. Through their heyday Motley Crue’s resident troll managed to play leads that were both memorable and current. And who had better tone in the 80’s? I’ll tell you this, knowing what I know now, if I was starting a band in 1982 I’d take Mick over Warren DeMartini. And from all I’ve seen and heard I was at least a little surprised at how spry he was. Sure you can see some of the limitations of boneitis or whatever weird thing he has but he darted around the stage with the briskness of an elderly man in great shape. He may conjure an image of Mr. Burns living in a cave but he played great. Mick is as much the Motley sound as Vince is. Let’s talk about Vince.
The cherubic front-man may have skipped half of the words and let the audience sing when he needed to catch his breath. He may be twice the man he used to be. And he may dress like a man without a mirror. But he is the voice of Motley Crue. On this night he peaked at ‘ok’, was often ‘not good’ and at least a couple of times more like ‘so bad you felt sorry for him’. I still prefer that over lip syncing or back tracking. But Jesus, if this guy has ever been offered any professional guidance or proper vocal techniques he’s not using them. But for all his faults there is still something about him that just seems right when he’s with Motley Crue. I think Doc McGhee was correct in saying that Vince was a star. As he jogged his chubby ass back and forth across the stage you could still see that swag that made him the panty dropper he once was in the 80’s. And part of the 90’s. I assume.
Tommy Lee is known for two things. Outrageous drum risers and being able to honk a boat horn while saying “Look., no hands.” Being this tour is closing in on two years I was well aware of what was to come from his drum solo. Still I needed to see it with my own eyes. Something I would estimate 1 in 8 eyes chose not to do as they watched it on their phones as they filmed it. Apparently oblivious to the 800,000 videos of this already on YouTube. But I watched. And it was glorious. Part drum solo. Part roller coaster. And all techno dance party. They should really hand out hits of Molly and glow sticks for this part of the show. Some people don’t like it because rock fans are often meat heads but I dug it. I roofie’d my own drink hoping to wake up feeling violated. I live in the moment.
Sully Erna recently claimed that Nikki’s bass parts were actually pre-recorded. But to my professionally trained ears and eyes, I doubt it. Motley clearly uses a healthy dose of backing tracks but I would agree it’s mostly for punch and accent. And it’s also not devious. And when Nikki strapped a flamethrower to the crotch area of his bass the ensuing firestorm made us all oblivious to the dying cat stuck in Vince’s vocal chords during “Shout At The Devil”. Nikki will always be the Rock Star in Motley Crue. Plus shooting flames from your crotch is always a good idea. About half way through the show he took a moment to talk to us. Hearing him tell an inspiring story of stealing his grandfather’s knife reminded me of being 15 and reading his interviews in Circus magazine. And listening to him I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m still 15.
For all the shit they get, if they are truly are never going to tour again. This was the way to go out. Big and fun. And while they have often taken fun to catastrophic and tragic levels, at their core they have always been a fun band. And even the songs I don’t like sounded good this night. As the last notes of “Home Sweet Home” rang out I realized how much this band has meant to me. They were the soundtrack to my pubescent acne and angst filled teen years. They were my first concert. And even though I was fine with the idea my last Crue concert being in 1987, listening to “Home Sweet Home” the whole evening and the last 32 years filled my thoughts. Tonight I was given enough sentiment to fill a Hallmark Channel movie. And for all the fans there that night the Crue gave you what you came for. A tip of the hat and a fitting farewell. Seeing that giant burning pentagram I realized I will miss them. At least little bit.
Oh! Alice Cooper was fucking awesome! His band is really quite good. Go see them. Give it up for Motley bringing him and his band along. He had an hour-long set. That didn’t mean a short set by Motley. He was allowed to do his whole show with props and all. They weren’t shoved to the front of the stage so tight they all had to stand in one box. And there wasn’t that noticeable upgrade to the sound once Motley took the stage. Say what you want but they didn’t have to do any of that.
Farewell Motley Crue. Unless…
I also discussed this show as well as all things Crue on Cobras & Fire Podcast. Motley Christmas: All Band Things End At Chipotle