July 26, 2014
There are always pluses and minuses when seeing former rock Gods years past their heyday. A plus being an opportunity to see them play in an often more intimate venue with them cranking out the good old tunes you really came to hear. A minus could be sad echoes of days past with musicians just squeezing out one more paycheck.
We hope for a show that matches what we remember in our youth. I can’t say that Mötley Crüe’s show on July 26 at Sleep Country Amphitheater matched really anything in my youth. Obviously Mötley didn’t get the memo to ease up in their later years. Or more likely, they got the memo and Nikki Sixx decided to pour gasoline on it and light a match.
Right before the show started, I remember thinking, “Wow. That’s a lot of pentagrams.” Including one hanging from the rafters with a mic attached. Slightly steam punk and definitely menacing, it promised big theater and hinted at a time before their later albums softened the band up some.
And so it began, one of the craziest concert I have ever beeen to.
The sound was not great. Which is too bad because the band gave 110%.
It would be an awesome thing to pick out one of your favorite band’s set list. Inevitably we wish they played one more song you love ('Starry Eyes' or 'Merry-Go-Round') and left out others ('Without You'). But here, Mötley covered all of the bases pretty neatly, kicking off with 'Saints of Los Angeles' followed by a string of classics that included 'Live Wire', 'Shout at the Devil', 'Looks that Kill' all the way through the big hits like 'Dr. Feelgood', 'Kick Start My Heart' and ending with the encore of 'Home Sweet Home' performed from a small raised platform surrounded by fans.
Nikki Sixx looked almost unchanged from the early days, and he certainly came off as the leader of the band. He chatted conversationally with the crowd, even telling the guy in front of me that he was too old to be taking a selfie. Vince Neil, despite being dressed in some odd leather/pimp/gold ensemble put more into the show then I ever would have hoped for. He didn’t hit all the notes, but good God, who could? Mick Mars did a good job, but much of the time, we couldn’t hear the guitar nearly enough. Tommy Lee-there was not enough Tommy Lee. His posture and slouchy pants were so iconic Tommy Lee but he was just not showcased enough. It was cool to see him playing piano on Home Sweet Home, but otherwise, I missed him. At this venue, his drum set was not able ride on tracks above the audience as it did at other shows. However, the rest of our show was so over the top, it wasn’t that much of a letdown.
The set kept up momentum the whole way through, even if the lyrics were sometimes indecipherable, it didn’t matter so much-we all knew the words. The two back up dancers were beautiful, sexy and added class to the whole production.
I saw Kiss recently at the same venue. Wonderful show, all of the mayhem you’d expect from Kiss. But I wonder…has Gene Simmons seen Mötley’s tour this year? And if so, is he pissed? Because Mötley Crue almost roasted us alive. And it was awesome. Everything was on fire. The aforementioned pentagrams, including the one that turned out to be Nikki’s microphone, his bass, everything was surrounded by flames. We could feel the waves of heat in the second row.
Who decided to give Nikki Sixx a bass that was essentially a huge flame thrower blasting in time to Shout at the Devil? Nikki at one point pushed Mick Mars out of the way of the jetting flames after Mick wandered into Nikki’s path.
That, my friends, is rock and roll.
Alice Cooper opened the show with a competent set of hits, Halloween props and cartoonish theatrics that included a straight jacketed electrocution that transformed the classic frontman into a towering giant.
The music was highlighted by an excellent performance from guitarist Nita Strauss, formerly of The Iron Maidens.