Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mötley Crüe - i-wireless Center - November 9th, 2014

Slow and steady wins the race at least we've been told as much.  It seems that every time someone drops that cliche its followed by a reference to the tortoise and the hare.  The fact of the matter is that the tortoise and the hare couldn't be further from the truth.  Yes it true that in the telling of the story the rabbit loses because he is tired subsequently taking a nap and the tortoise creeps by to the win.  The poignant portion of the story wasn't the fact that the moral of the story was that the rabbit lost, or that the tortoise won, nope not even close.  What?

The fact of the matter is that they both won, it happens all of the time.  Yes slow and steady wins the race but so does the rabbit that took a nap.  More often than not we hear the feel good story about the tortoise but trust me the rabbit is just as successful.  We are conditioned to hear the story about the tortoise and say "Awww...  That's so sweet, good for him."  Do you realize that for every one of those "feelgood" stories there are just as many rabbits that beat the crap out of tortoises?

It's true.  What if the tortoise and the rabbit were one in the same?  What if the fable was real?  What if I were to tell you that indeed it is real?  It is real, the rabbit and the tortoise are one in the same.  In 1981 a guy named Sixx and another named Bass decided to start a band.  Despite the fact that there have been a few duets that have been successful, not many of those have been successful metal bands.  Sixx and Bass met two other people named Deal and Wharton and they started a band called "Mötley Crüe."  Confused by the four names?  Bass is the REAL last name for Tommy Lee, Deal is the REAL last name of Mick Mars, Wharton is the REAL last name of Vince Neal and Sixx is the REAL last name of Sixx, no really it is.  When the band was formed Sixx had already changed his legal name TO Sixx so they were really the names of the guys of Mötley Crüe.

Here's the point where the hare kicks the tortoise's ass by the way.  Mötley Crüe became one of the most important bands EVER in the history of heavy metal but also became one of the most important bands in music history.  I'm not kidding about either of those monikers, Mötley Crüe is one of the most identifiable bands from the '80's and they are responsible for more "anthems" that go across the lines of music genres, and lets not forget the attitude that they purvey in their music from their earliest days until today.  At no time did Mötley Crüe EVER make excuses or apologies about their music, nor did their fans apologies for being their fans.  In a strange way it can be said that Mötley Crüe made their music for only themselves but I think they would agree that each of their fans ARE part of Mötley Crüe.

Within a span of eight years, Mötley Crüe released five albums with each one showing a different level of the band, its personalities and its complexity, ladies and gentlemen the tortoise has made his appearance.  I saw Mötley Crüe on two of those tours, they were incredible and yes there were some cracks that began to show but the quality of their work never waned.  Everyone has a legacy of music in their lives that is reflected in the events that befell them and for me those first five albums are full of my legacy.

Their impact on the lives of their fans is iconic, people have been carried, buried, harried, and married to their music.  More than one love letter has contained their lyrics and from time to time their lyrics foretold our lives.  In March 2013 rumblings began that the band would begin a "final tour" and on January 28th, 2014 those rumblings became tremors which shook their fans to the core.  As the final tour began in Grand Rapids, Michigan on July 2nd, 2014 the inevitable end to the career of the members of Mötley Crüe began.  It really never seemed like a "final tour" would really happen and despite the fact that I saw the band on July 4th, 2014 the finality of that last tour never seemed to be a real possibility.  I am a realist, yet the fact I saw them on their final tour made me think there was still light at the end of the tunnel.

They say its always darkest before the dawn and as the dawn began to break on November 9th, 2014 it was seemingly darker than the bowels of Hades.  I traveled a measly 80 +/- miles to the i-wireless center in Moline, Illinois to see one of the final stops of the final tour of Mötley Crüe (with Alice Cooper opening).  It was a bittersweet event for me actually, on one hand I had FRONT ROW seats and I had lots of family and friends with me, but on the other hand was the realization that this was the final tour.

After the opening acts of The Raskins and the one and only Alice Cooper had finished the crowd had this palpable murmur that was a mixture of nervousness, anxiety and excitement that continued to build until the lights went down.  The energy that erupted as the lights dropped was dwarfed by the emergence of Mötley Crüe onstage and through it all you could see how much this band loves each and every fan.  Yes that sounds corny but when you can actually see the eyes of a performer, as I was able to with Nikki Sixx, you can see the life and excitement that rests in their eyes.  Often times you hear people say "He looked right at me!" when talking about a live performance and member of the band and while its always possible its unmistakable when you are literally four feet away.

When you talk about a band usually the person that sticks out more in the memories of the band is the lead singer, and for Mötley Crüe that person is Vince Neil.  Neil is an enigma within the four people of Mötley Crüe and when I think about what a lead singer from a band in the '80's, he is the poster child.  While many think of what a lead singer is, what Neil is and what he gives to the band is energy.  I have seen too many bands where the lead singer obviously wants to be onstage long enough to get his part completed and then just leave, Neil didn't do that.  I say that because of the eyes, you could see his excitement reflecting through his eyes.  Neil was the performer I have seen on the tours gone by and on both performances this time, he was simply great!

Everyone that loves the genre of heavy metal and for those that just love a good example, Robert Deal is that person, well Mick Mars is that example.  Mars has a degenerative condition called ankylosing spondyltis and despite that Mars has continued to be the professional guitar player that is truly the sound of Mötley Crüe.  The skills that Mars shows on stage should make every guitar player stand up and shake their heads at how far ahead Mars is of nearly everyone that holds a similar position in a band.  He just makes it look easy but the way he makes the most complex seem simple is a purely genius.  I will miss seeing Mars on stage, he is simply a legend.

John Bonham, Keith Moon, Cozy Powell, Vinnie Paul and Neil Peart are the names of some of the craziest and greatest drummers of all time but one name that MUST be included in this list is the name of Tommy Lee.  The much maligned drummer of Mötley Crüe is simply one of the greatest of all-time and I doubt any other drummer could have worked within this band.  Lee is insane, he is plain and simple.  I say that with a certain sense of accuracy because who else would have been able to ride, and yes I said RIDE, his drum set on so many tours.  I have seen the big circle rotating drum riser, the riser than spins  in place and this evil looking roller coaster.  Its insane that any person would strap themselves into a riser and then ride over the crowd while playing the drums!  All of that aside, Lee really is one of the greatest drummers of all-time and his influence has spawned across genres and generations of Mötley Crüe fans.

Nikki Sixx at the i-wireless center ©

As I look at the history of Mötley Crüe one name simply defines what Mötley Crüe is: Nikki Sixx.  Bass players are the backbone of any band but Sixx is Mötley Crüe.  Obviously Sixx and Lee were the beginning of the band but it really is the bass that defines Crüe.  It is an incredible event watching Sixx play live, there is an energy and a sense of being that only Sixx can give to the music of the band.  Sixx is the quintessential bass player but when you see the man face to face, you can see that he is also honored to be in the presence of his fans.  This tour was full of effects, and pyrotechnics and while the stage seemed to be on fire from the moment they stepped on stage, Sixx himself added to the fire with a flamethrower attached to his bass.  A flamethrower.  When he would let the fire fly I could literally feel the heat and I really did have my hair singed by the flames.

What I felt was ironic about the fire, the heat and my hair was the fact that on three occasions Sixx provided a "cooling" and "fireproofing" by spraying the crowd with water from his mouth.  No it wasn't spit, it was water but as the band played the Sex Pistols classic, "Anarchy for the UK" several people came running out from the back with high powered squirt guns and I think at least three of them found ME to direct their streams of water.  It really was very cool but it did come with a certain level of pain for me.

Sixx is the face and sound of Mötley Crüe and he must be included at the top of the list of bass players because of his bass skills but he also must be considered as one of the most important people in heavy metal ever.  If you think about the entire genre of heavy metal, "hair metal," or even '80's rock music, Mötley Crüe is always mentioned and I would argue without the early influences of the band in the LA music scene the genre itself dies.  That whole era is defined by the debauchery that seemingly was born the bastard child of Mötley Crüe but despite the fact that the genre was over-exposed, exploited and made the bands become these misogynistic, cartoon-like acts, Mötley Crüe still lives and thrives.  That by itself speaks volumes to the vision of Sixx doesn't it?

As the concert began the excitement was this giant ball of history, music and experiences that Mötley Crüe gave its fans, and while that giant ball was still there it got larger and it became obvious that we were part of their history.  Mötley Crüe is important in my own personal history and I would think in some way I am in theirs.  That is a grand statement if not a bit pompous but I think that is true of all of their fans.  I mentioned earlier that many Crüe fans have their music in the most important events in their lives and I think they know that.  While I have never met a single member of the band, or have I ever corresponded with any of them, I would like to think that they know how much their music has touched me.  Its true of any influence in our lives, and I can honestly say they are an influence.

As I write this it has become obvious to me that I have seen the band for the final time and that for a massive part of their fan base so have they.  When Mötley Crüe joined the rank and file of bands that got popular then got famous, they didn't deviate from their own path.  While it would have been easy for them just to call it quits one day, announce a break up and that would be it, they decided to go out in a way that was fitting to honor their fans and in a way that the fans would always remember fondly and without regret for anyone.  That seems befitting of a band that is legendary and is one of the foundations blocks of an entire genre in music history.  Mötley Crüe did it right, they made mistakes but they tried to get past them and they chose to never forget what is most important to their fans.

Nikki Sixx - ©

Thank you Vince, Mick, Tommy and Nikki!  The ride you have given us the fans is epic.  With the music you have given us from that earliest record record "Too Fast For Love" on Lethür Records to the final tour that you gave your fans as a giant thank you, you have cemented your music and attitude into the lives of millions of fans worldwide!  This would be the time where I tell you that the concert was great and that you have to see them live, but the fact of the matter is different.  They were simply AMAZING on this stop in Moline, Illinois on November 9th, 2014 BUT unless we can convince them otherwise and following a small "world-wide" tour and a few private dates, Mötley Crüe will take its rightful place in music history.

Great job guys!  The experiences I had with my family and friends on both dates that we could get to was memorable and although you said its over, in music its never really over!

No comments:

Post a Comment