I remember my first exposure to Mötley Crüe. It was either 3rd or 4th grade, end of the school year. The teacher was letting us have an “end of the year party”, where we got to eat outside, play games, waterballoon fight, and just other unstructured fun. One thing we were told to do was bring our favorite music to play.
His name was Palmer Sterns. His claim to fame at the time was being that kid that could flip his eyelids over and gross everyone out. Well, I remember his bring this record to the party. It had this all black cover, with a pentagram on it. It looked dangerous… and thus it was instantly much cooler. Of course, Mrs. Wilson didn’t allow the record to be played (sign of the times), and that bumped up the coolness factor even more. Throw in the days of MTV actually playing music videos, and being the dawn of that era everyone doing cheesy yet awesome videos like “Too Young to Fall in Love” and well… how the hell could a young boy not come to love Mötley Crüe?
I’ve seen The Crüe a couple times in my younger days, and when The Final Tour was announced, I had to attend – especially because Alice Cooper was opening for them. I’ve never seen Alice live, and didn’t want to miss the chance.
Headed to the show with my concert buddy, Daughter, and my friend Dave.
The event was held at the Cedar Park Event Center, which is a smaller arena housed in a suburb of Austin. It’s home to the Texas Stars, which are a feeder team for the Dallas Stars hockey team, so being primarily a hockey rink, you can get an idea of the size. Thing is, it’s big enough for good shows (I’ve seen numerous things there), but it’s small enough that there really isn’t a way to have bad seats. It’s not a 20,000 seat arena where the nosebleed seats are worthless. I bought tickets early and got floor seats. Tho a little towards the back, it was fine for the bulk of the show and extra cool towards the end.
We had no idea there was a 3rd band, a smaller act to open. Nothing was on the bill, but 15 minutes before the listed start time, suddenly there’s lots of noise coming from inside the arena. Seems a band called The Raskins was tapped to open. Never heard of them, not sure anyone knew who they were. But they weren’t bad, had a lot of energy and looked like they had their act together for a young band that just got tapped to open for such a huge tour. Good for them. I’m sure they earned new fans. Not sure if I’m a fan yet, but I’m willing to check them out.
Daughter was more excited to see Alice than Mötley, and I don’t blame her. I’ve never seen Alice live, and was certainly excited to see him. I expected that, given he’s Alice, a legend, and there’d be no Mötley without first having Alice, that his opening slot would still be a good show. No relegation to 45 minutes, no real set, props, or other fun things… no, this is Alice, and he’s going to deliver an Alice Cooper set.
Sure enough, he got to play a lot of music, and pull out all the good props. Costume changes, the boa constrictor, then yes… during “Feed My Frankenstein” out comes “the table”. Alice is strapped down, the pyro goes off, and Alice “transforms” into a 10′ high Frankenstein monster (puppet). It was awesome, running around the stage, singing the song. You can see a video of it from another concert here.
I was happy that “The Ballad of Dwight Fry” was played – probably my favorite Alice song. Of course, that led to the guillotine. All the props and showcase was there.
No question, a “greatest hits” set. Well run, no banter but just highly choreographed and well-oiled entertained. It ran well and was obviously the work of a veteran and professional. So damn good, and I was quite happy to have been able to experience it.
- Hello Hooray (Judy Collins cover)
- No More Mr. Nice Guy
- Under My Wheels
- I’m Eighteen
- Billion Dollar Babies
- Dirty Diamonds
- Welcome to My Nightmare
- Feed My Frankenstein
- Ballad of Dwight Fry
- Killer (partial)
- I Love the Dead (partial)
- School’s Out (with a small homage to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”)
Alice seemed an appropriate opening act, and I’m happy they let him put on a good and full show – anything less would have been an insult to Alice and the fans. But Alice knew (and obviously at this stage of his life and career he’s quite comfortable with the fact) that he’s warming everyone up for Mötley Crüe.
Ah, with the Internet, there are no secrets. We knew the stage set was going to be impressive, with Tommy’s drum solo being a “rollercoaster”. However, it started to come out that not every show was getting the rollercoaster. Seems some venues just cannot support the structure. I guess Cedar Park Event Center is one such venue, as we didn’t get a full coaster, just an abridged one. But still, the stage set was very cool — I tried to capture some pictures, but there was so much lighting, everything just got washed out.
Backing up a bit, whenever there’s a set change in progress, it’s common to hear music playing over the P.A. system. Usually it’s just random music. I thought it was interesting that prior to Alice’s set they were playing Alice’s songs. But what was more interesting was listening to Mötley’s. At first it seemed like just random songs and you didn’t pay attention. Dave asked me if this one song sounded like The Smiths – I didn’t know as I don’t know much of their stuff. Then I heard Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and it hit me – all the songs are intentional, as they are “goodbye” songs. Ha ha. The songs then ended with the Von Trapp family singing “So Long, Farewell” from “The Sound of Music”…. which was quite funny to play, and led right into the opening of the show.
When you go to see a Crüe show, you go for the music, but you also know you’re going to get a show. They did not disappoint. From an elaborate stage setup with a large backdrop that seemed to pay homage to their beginnings, with hints of the Mad Max apocalyptic layout, pentagrams (including a massive one in the ceiling central to their entire lighting rig; and another hanging down ending in Nikki’s microphone), but tons of lights, lasers, smoke, and yes, fire. From fire spouts to fireworks, flash bombs, and Nikki’s flamethrower bass, it was a loud and electrifying event. I’ve seen shows where the light show and other effects get tired and redundant, but not so here with every song and event having a unique program with good pacing (e.g. starting off with a literal bang, letting the show pace, slow it down, bring it up, and really go into overdrive for the end).
Again, this was a massive “greatest hits” setlist. Noticeably absent was their new song, “All Bad Things Must End”, but otherwise it was a “you name it, it’s in there” setlist. I wasn’t surprised “Generation Swine” and “New Tattoo” were ignored, but one thing I thought was very cool? Tommy’s drum solo included snippets of “Hooligan’s Holiday”. I think that album with John Corabi is highly underrated and one of their better albums, and I think it was fitting for this “goodbye” to not ignore that slice of Mötley’s history; nice that they gave it public acknowledgement.
Another cool thing? Vince’s singing. Vince has been known over the years to be a less than wonderful singer live, getting gassed out, singing every third word. But at this show? He was great. There was a point before the drum and guitar solos where he was skipping words, but on the whole Vince was really on and sounded great. I even realized that as so many bands get older, they have to downtune so the singer can keep hitting the notes. That wasn’t the case here, with Vince still able to hit the high notes. Gotta give him a lot of credit for his performance.
One thing that was cool about our seats was the encore. They closed with “Home Sweet Home”, but took to “the B stage”, which was a smaller stage on a rising platform at the back of the arena. Our seats were directly adjacent to the platform, about 7 yards from it. We could see the wrinkles around Nikki’s eyes and Daughter commented she didn’t realize Vince was so dumpy. 😉 I usually don’t mark out and get all starstruck at such things, but I have to admit it was kinda cool and a little magical to see these guys up close and to be able to shout “Thank you!” for all the years of entertainment they’ve given us, and know that they heard it.
None in our group was disappointed. Dave had seen The Crüe in his younger days too, so he knew to expect a show. A show we got. Daughter certainly can see why I like the things I like. 🙂
Is this really the final tour? Well, if I remember correctly, the contract used very specific (weasel) words, that the band known as “Mötley Crüe” wouldn’t tour after this tour was over. Who says that a new group called “Neil, Sixx, Mars, & Lee” (like Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young) can’t tour? 😉 The band isn’t over, they aren’t breaking up. Maybe they won’t tour, but “Motley Crue, Inc.” will still be very alive and well. I’m sure Vince will solo tour like he’s always done. Nikki has Sixx A.M., and Tommy might resurrect Methods of Mayhem. 😉 I do wonder if some of this may have to do with Mick’s health, which I’m sure they’ll never say (honestly, that’s bad for business), but you can’t help but wonder.
I am willing to believe them, because they’ve always done things different from the rest, so why would this be any different? They’d lose a ton of integrity too, which they just don’t come off as wanting to do (they aren’t KISS). But in the end, does it really matter? It’s just rock and roll….
- Saints of Los Angeles
- Wild Side
- Primal Scream
- Same Ol’ Situation
- Looks That Kill
- On With the Show
- Too Fast for Love
- Smokin’ in the Boys Room
- Without You
- Mutherfucker of the Year
- Anarchy in the U.K.
- Dr. Feelgood
- Shout at the Devil
- Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
- Drum Solo
- Guitar Solo
- Live Wire
- Too Young to Fall in Love
- Girls, Girls, Girls
- Kickstart My Heart
- Home Sweet Home (encore)