It’s hard to find anything good to say about the members of Mötley Crüe. With the exception of Mick Mars, I don’t respect anything about them as human beings. They are the epitome of excess. They were disrespectful little boys who grew up to be disrespectful old men. Peter Pan Syndrome, mixed with massive amounts of drugs and alcohol, led Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil and Tommy Lee to delusions of grandeur never before seen in a rock band. When Nikki overdosed on heroin he died — then he walked out of the hospital, had some female fans drive him home, and shot up before blacking out on the bathroom floor. Vince literally got away with murder when his drunk driving caused the death of his friend Razzle (of Hanoi Rocks). Tommy stuck his dick in places even the devil wouldn’t go, only to have his escapades awarded by Hollywood marriages to Heather Locklear and Pamela Anderson. When they got bored on tour, they would find new and disgusting ways to terrorize citizens and degrade groupies, only to find another line of victims waiting in the next city. None of this was punk — punk stood for (and against) something — the guys in Mötley Crüe only stood for themselves. And most of the time, they couldn’t even do that. They treated each other (and each other’s wives and girlfriends) no better than the nameless whores who crammed into Vince’s room for “Sex Olympics”.
As destructive as these guys have been, to themselves and to those they come in contact with, their own delusions are the reason their band has been able to stay alive well past its expiration date. Hair metal died off en mass when the grunge plague spread across the country (and globe) from Seattle outward, but Mötley Crüe believed they were immune. They weren’t. A few horrific albums will attest to that fact. But here we are, 33 years after the band formed on the Sunset Strip, and they are selling out large arenas for “The Final Tour”. The degenerate foursome have an average age of 58-years-old…and in all those years, no one has had the heart to tell them that they just arn’t that great. Not that they would have listened anyway.
I was never a huge Mötley Crüe fan, even in the 80’s. Sure, Shout at the Devil is an undeniable classic…Too Fast for Love is a completely respectable debut album…and Dr. Feelgood is about as good as pop metal can get, but I was more into the NWOBHM and bay area thrash bands than I ever was Mötley Crüe. That being said, I really really really wanted to see them on the Girls, Girls, Girls Tour in ’88. The problem being that I was 11-years-old and my parents weren’t having it. I saw footage of that tour and it was everything I thought a concert should be — loud guitars, belligerent rock stars, dancing girls and huge balls of fire. I was so disappointed that I couldn’t go to that show that I vowed I would see them as soon as I was old enough. Little did I know that by the time I was old enough I wouldn’t want to see them anymore. My tastes had changed and my definition of a good concert became more about the music. Now I’ve been to hundreds of concerts and I realize there is a place for both types. Some concerts are all about the music. Some concerts are all about the show. Mötley Crüe might not be the masters of the former, but “The Final Tour” proved that few bands can put on a show quite like the Crüe can.
The set opened with the only new song we would hear all night, “Saints of Los Angeles”. It was immediately evident that Vince’s voice would not be a highlight of the night. I would blame it on the sound in the Pepsi Center, but Alice Cooper sounded amazing just minutes earlier, so I have to believe Vince’s voice isn’t in the best shape after years of abuse. Though it hardly mattered in the beginning, because he still showed the exuberance of a man half his age. Running back and forth under a huge pentagram of lights, he acted as more a conductor than lead singer — and the crowd was more than happy to sing the songs for him. “Wild Side” found Tommy on his own platform, flanked by strippers; “Primal Scream” sparked fire balls that were almost too intense from my spot in the 14th row; Mick isn’t very mobile due to his ankylosing spondylitis, but what he lacked in flash, he more than made up for in precision…I believe he is the one true professional in the band. It was literally hit song (pyrotechnics) after (pyrotechnics) hit song (pyrotechnics) until Nikki took the time to give a little history lesson between “Without You” and “Anarchy in the U.K.”. The story was familiar to anyone who has read The Dirt, but I thought it was kind of funny how he tried to connect the dots between Sex Pistols and Mötley Crüe.
It was until “Dr. Feelgood” and “Shout at the Devil” when Vince’s voice (or lack thereof) became disappointing. Those were songs I really wanted to hear, not just see, and no amount of busty, vinyl-clad nurses could distract me from the fact that those songs would have sounded better in my car. Nikki shooting flames from his bass was cool, but not as cool as it would have been to hear Vince sing “he’s the wolf screaming lonely in the night…he’s the blood stain on the sta-a-a-age!!!“
The drum solo roller coaster event took quite awhile to setup, leaving an unruly crowd to their own devices. I’m not sure what it was like in other parts of the arena, but it was a mess on the floor. Too many middle-aged men (and women) who drank themselves drunk before Alice Cooper even took the stage were now left with nothing to occupy their addled minds. Married men were referring to mother/daughter pairs as ‘hot sluts’; one guy face planted into another dude’s crotch when he slipped getting out of his seat; beer was wasted as it hit the floor and people were yelling and screaming for no reason. Luckily the event was worth the wait (kinda). Everyone’s talking about it, so I’m not going to shit on it. It was cool as hell to see Tommy and his entire drum-kit ride the tracks above the crowd. It was insane to see him 100 feet above me, swinging his sticks while hanging upside down. It was a show! It was what the Crüe are good at. But once again, the music wasn’t anything to write home about. Rage Against the Machine, Jay-Z, some shitty r&b? WTF? If you heard a recording of what he was playing (without the gravity defying visual), you’d probably puke.
The show picked back up from there. Mick’s solo was awesome! Vince’s voice seemed to come to life for “Live Wire” and “Too Fast for Love”. “Girls, Girls, Girls” made my 11-year-old dreams come true! The set ended with “Kickstart My Heart”, as the once-dead Nikki Sixx took a victory lap around the stage for the last time in the Mile High City. A few minutes later, “Home Sweet Home” was performed from the elevated center stage as the encore…and then the show came to a close.
I walked out of the Pepsi Center with mixed emotions. At first I felt like I had just witnessed something sad. A bunch of old dudes pretending they were still rock stars in front of a middle-aged crowd who were pretending they were still young. But as everything settled in my head on the drive home, I realized that maybe that’s not such a bad thing. We all need Peter Pan figures in our lives. We all need a reason to go out and act like idiots once in a while. So maybe that is why Mötley Crüe exist. They don’t have to be the best musicians. They don’t have to stand for anything. You don’t have to respect them. They are just good, dirty, dumb fun. Despite all their flaws, it was a fun show.
So I guess I do respect one thing about the guys in Mötley Crüe — they allow us to break out of our normal lives. They allow us to visit the gutter and have a little dirty fun every once in awhile. Somebody’s gotta do it, so why not them?
I’m just glad I got to go home and leave them behind when it was all over.
* Alice Cooper opened the show with an incredibly theatrical performance that was musically superior to Mötley Crüe. I could probably write 2000 words on his opening set alone if I had the time…but to sum it up, he was tied down and electrocuted, only to return as a huge Frankenstein monster…then they chopped his head off in a guillotine and paraded it around the stage…he threw canes, guitar picks and dirty diamonds into the crowd…and he had a live python around his neck for part of the show..all while sounding pitch perfect. Great set from a true artist!
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
Billion Dollar Babies
Welcome to My Nightmare
Feed My Frankenstein
Ballad of Dwight Fry
Killer/I Love the Dead
Saints of Los Angeles
Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)
Looks That Kill
On With the Show
Too Fast for Love
Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room
Anarchy in the U.K.
T.N.T. (Terror ‘N Tinseltown)
In the Beginning
Shout at the Devil
Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Too Young to Fall in Love
Girls, Girls, Girls
Kickstart My Heart
Home Sweet Home