It was a very interesting time the '80's wasn't it? Bands came and went, there were so many flashes in the pan it was hard to tell if it was a quick dying of their fan base, or someone put a flame to all of the Aqua-Net they were wearing. A few bands survived, and a few thrived but a few brought monstrous success and that brings to mind Motley Crue. Motley Crue has the distinction of having been all three, but what about today?
Motley Crue is the poster child for the era of '80's "hair bands", and that really isn't what they were then and it is certainly not what they are today. In the '80's so many bands were lumped into the "hair band" category, it became almost a scarlet letter for bands and unfortunately pigeon-holed many of them. Motley Crue was different, they were successful, they had multiple records that sold like gangbusters, and they stayed in the eye of their fans.
That brings us to today and the enigma that is indeed Motley Crue. The Crue was this larger than life entity that was plagued by substance abuse, in-fighting, line up changes, terrible press and reality television but despite that, Motley Crue has retained and grown their fan base and they're back, with a vengeance.
I would have given anything to see the planning that went into their current tour. With New York Dolls and Poison on the bill it seemed like it could be a powder keg waiting to blow and despite that, this tour is one of the biggest tours of the year, in any genre. When we decided to go to the show, I expected to see what I saw on the "Girls, Girls, Girls" tour, and boy was I wrong.
When I saw that tour, the Crue started the show like every band does; the lights dim, music starts to blare, lights go up, and women toss their bras at the stage and alas that is not what I experienced this time. With what could only be described as a nuclear blast and then lights exploding and the most violent beginning I have ever seen reared its head. I'm fairly confident I jumped straight up and smacked my head on to of the box above me because they scared the crap out of me. Explosions, flashing lights, thunderous guitar and bass and the voice of Vince Neil engulfed the arena.
The i wireless Center is a phenomenal place to see a show and I think Motley Crue may have just been the pinnacle of any show I have ever seen. Period. Motley Crue and their stage show, has grown into this cacophony of art, music, and the craziest fans and this night I saw mastery. I'm fighting the temptation to continue to explain the beginning of their show it was just that good.
When I talked about the Dolls and Poison in earlier posts, I talked about David Johansen (New York Dolls) as stoic, and Bret Michaels (Poison) as a whirling dervish but Vince Neil was none of those. Instead Neil appeared to be on rails, moving to each side of the stage, stopping at the middle of the stage, and taking little stops with his bandmates. Neil sounds very close to what I remember, his voice is still as distinct as it was on their first album and he really doesn't look like he has missed a beat.
The four presences that make up Motley Crue are an amalgam of different personalities and larger than life characters and one of the most interesting has to be Mick Mars. Mars, and his "dark side" make his playing masterful and so crisp its scary. As most Motley fans know, Mars suffers from "ankylosing spondylitis", a chronic, inflammatory form of arthritis and despite that Mars remains the consummate professional and his skill hasn't diminished. He could very well be the person who has that "haunted house" and people cross the street to avoid, but I'm guessing that he would be one of the most fascinating people one could ever meet. As we go from the introverted Mars, we enter the extroverted world of drummer, Tommy Lee.
Tommy Lee reminds me of that guy we all went to school with, you know the guy everybody loves and no one ever has anything bad to say about, its a fair bet to say that he is "that guy". Tommy Lee has this affinity for involving the crowd through the entire show. He talks to the crowd incessantly, he involves the crowd and he is they type of showman that PT Barnum would love. When I saw Lee on the Girls tour, he had a cage that contained his drums and himself and be began to twirl himself whilst playing (I still shake my head thinking about it) and I confess to wondering if Lee would try to top that highlight. The right answer, "Oh Yeah!"
His answer was what I would call a "roller coaster of drums" and while he performed a drum solo, that roller coaster got rocking. Before I continue I have a question, who comes up with this stuff? Do they hire engineers to figure all of this stuff out (I know, that's two questions) and how do you get that job (three now, sue me)? When Lee asked a member of the crowd to come up and join him for a drum solo I was incredibly jealous and envious, because that guy had a blast! Lee is quite the musician, he is a fantastic drummer and quite the piano player and more importantly he is a huge fan (a fan of his fans) and one piece that can never be replaced with Crue.
Author, musician, songwriter, photographer and fashion designer (WTF?) Nikki Sixx, the bassist and the face I most identify with Motley Crue, is the quintessential rock star. His biography is as eclectic as his resume but like Lee, he is Motley Crue. When the show began, I found myself watching Sixx, he loves the fans and involves them in the show as well as anyone in the industry (if not better). Sixx took the mike a few times and let the fans know how much he, and the rest of the band feel about them and even took time to say how much he loves going to the "Quad Cities". Any master of their craft looks effortless in that craft and he is no exception, he is brilliant.
Watching Nikki Sixx on stage is very entertaining and one may not understand what a great musician he is. Like Lee and Mars, Nikki Sixx is a master of the bass and I would suspect a great peacemaker.
The legend of Motley Crue is voluminous and this tour has only one effect and that is making Motley Crue even bigger than before. I would love to explain the stage show, the lights, the pyro, the two female back-up singers, but there is no way possible, it has to be seen to be believed. Their music is now part of rock legend, and they are still playing it with the intensity that it was first created with. How can one not be impressed by a band that has lasted 30 years and shook off their own personal struggles and can still play to sold out arenas?
I don't care if you have to put off surgery, or miss your own wedding see this band. Buy their records (cd's yeah, yeah), their t-shirts and experience Motley Crue, a band that wasn't a flash in the pan and probably never has their Aqua-Net explode either.