Motley Crue, December 30, 2015, Staples Center, Los Angeles
As announced in January 2014, Motley Crue signed a legally binding cessation of touring contract which takes effect January 1, 2016. Motley Crue has spent much of 2014 and 2015 on a world tour saying goodbye and thank-you to their legions of fans. My personal goodbye to the band that I’ve followed for over thirty years will take me to three countries and seven shows in 2015. A few days after Christmas, I set off on my final Motley Crue adventure – to see two of the three shows at the Staples Centre in L.A. Leaving Toronto on a grey rainy day, it was great to land in bright sunshine and warm temperatures. After settling into our hotel, Kandy and I headed to the Sunset Strip to check out the sights and soak in the atmosphere. Everywhere there were people from all over the world sporting Motley Crue t-shirts, in town for the band’s final shows. I met people from England, Japan, several far-off U.S. states and (I am happy to say) many Canadians. The Strip was just as I remembered from Cruefest 2008, however, this time, there was a slight pall over the festivities as Motorhead’s Lemmy had just passed away the day before and memorials were to be seen outside The Rainbow and The Whiskey.
We made sure to get to the venue early to check out the Motley Crue pop-up store, Crue LA. For Crueheads like me, this was the best store ever, with shirts, jackets, buttons, posters, shot glasses, and all kinds of Motley memorabilia and Crue crap. With the low Canadian dollar, I was proud that I limited myself to two posters –a final show poster and another featuring every show the Crue have played in their career.
Doors opened around six, so we had lots of time to check out the Staples Center. We visited the StubHub commemorative ticket booth just inside the entrance, where concert goers were invited to have their picture put on a lanyard as a souvenir of the show. It was fun to choose a background and message to personalize the lanyard and best of all — it was free. By the time we finished our lanyard it was time to take our seats for the opening act.
I had not heard of The Struts who were awarded the opening slot at the final four Motley Crue shows (Las Vegas and all three in LA) but after seeing their set, they are definitely on my radar now. This English band put on an energetic set nearly an hour long. I thought it was too bad there weren’t more people in the audience. Vocalist Luke Spiller on stage brought to mind a young Jagger or even David Bowie. Spiller had a great command of the audience and was a natural on stage, something usually seen in frontmen with much more experience. I bought their EP Have You Heard and have been listening to it constantly. I can’t wait for their new album due in March 2016 so I have something besides these four songs. “Put Your Money on Me” is a personal favourite.
As I look back on the Crue show, it’s like I am reliving this part of my life over and over. The building starts to fill up and the anticipation grows. This is the second to last Motley show ever and I am trying to think of it more as a celebration than an end. “So Long, Farewell” starts, the crowd screams, the lights dim and the show starts. The reality of good-bye begins to hit me when Vince pauses after “Primal Scream” to say he is not going to dwell on the fact that these are the last two shows but rather he wishes to celebrate 34 years of making music. After this short speech, the music starts up and the band begins “S.O.S.” The remainder of the show duplicates the other shows — same songs, same explosions, same talking points. By the time the encore, “Home Sweet Home”, comes along the reality is starting to hit me that tomorrow will be the last time I will see Motley Crue perform live as a band. I try to remember that there is still much to look forward to. A full-length feature film on the last show is to be released in 2016 and the long-awaited movie The Dirt, based on the band’s 2002 autobiography, is still slated to be developed. Vince Neil starts solo dates in January 2016 and Sixx AM will also be touring throughout the year. Tommy and Mick have projects in the works so there is still plenty to come from the guys individually. However, it won’t be the same as experiencing the Motley magic that happens when these four guys hit the stage at the same time. As I leave the venue I think about my next night – ringing out 2015 and the end of so many things.
Motley Crue, December 31, 2015, Staples Center, Los Angeles
♫ “And now the end is near, And so I face the final curtain.”♫ (From “My Way”, Lyrics by Paul Anka)
On the morning of December 31, the reality started to sink in; by midnight Motley Crue as a band would be no more. I decided to distract myself by checking out some of the Motley Crue sites around Hollywood – the infamous Clark Street apartment behind the Whiskey where Tommy, Vince and Nikki lived, the Hardrock Café for its window dedicated to the band and even the Body Shop Strip Club on Sunset Blvd.
I arrived at the venue early to check out the merchandise for the final show. There were a couple of shirts but that is about it. Outside the venue, it was packed with fans and a film crew interviewing people perhaps for the concert movie scheduled for release later in 2016.
The venue filled up early and the noise from the crowd was intense as we waited for the band to take the stage. I found myself getting emotional right at the start which I took to not be a good sign. After “Primal Scream” Vince took his regular break to speak to the crowd. He thanked the band’s crew several of which were with the band for many years. Vince became emotional putting his head down and briefly turning his back to the crowd. “I knew this was going to happen,” he said.
For the most part, everything ran according to plan, that is except for Cruecify, Tommy’s rollercoaster drum kit, which decided to start its retirement early and left Tommy stranded upside down above the audience. Crew members made their way to Tommy and were able to right the drum platform at which time it was wisely decided to have Tommy climb down the track and forego the rest of the coaster spectacle. As Tommy made his way through the crowd back to the stage, Mick began an extended guitar solo and the drum kit made its way along the track without its rider. due to the delay caused by the malfunctioning coaster, the band missed the stroke of midnight by a few minutes however no one seemed to care. As red and white balloons rained down, everyone was high-fiving and hugging their neighbours.
As usual “Home Sweet Home” was the last song of the night. At its conclusion, Tommy and Vince hugged and the band left the stage for the last time.
As I left the arena to the strains of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”, I couldn’t help but feel the show was in a sense anti-climactic. I thought the final show of a band wrapping up an illustrious 35-year career would perhaps be different in some way. What a great opportunity it would have been to play a song from the vault or the guys would take some time to say a personal goodbye. Something different was in order, I thought. Still I felt privileged to be a witness to this final show and look back on 30+ years of being a Cruehead with great memories and awesome friends. As for the Crue, this quote from “My Way” sums up their career in a nutshell, “The record shows I took the blows and did it my way.”
Set List for both shows:
So Long, Farewell – Rodgers and Hammerstein
Girls, Girls, Girls
S.O.S. (Same Old Situation)
Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Smokin’ in the Boys Room (Brownsville Station cover)
Looks That Kill
Mutherfucker of the Year
Anarchy In the U.K. (Sex Pistols Cover)
In the Beginning
Shout At the Devil
Louder than Hell
O’ Fortuna – Carl Orff 13th century poem
Saints of Los Angeles
Kickstart My Heart
Encore Home Sweet Home
My Way – Frank Sinatra