Monday, September 26, 2011

Motley Crue live in Melbourne, 2011 (review)

Venue: Rod Laver Arena
Date: 24/09/11

Motley Crue’s The Dirt is one of the most notorious reads in the entire genre of rock biographies, which lead to the LA glam/metal band to be crowned undisputed kings of excess and bad behavior. No surprise then that their live show is equally excessive and totally over-the-top in a way that suits the band’s image, yet at the sacrifice of its ability to perform. This current tour is in celebration of 30 years of sex, drugs, arrests, messed up shit… oh and some rock n’ roll as well for good measure. The tour also boasts that fans are getting Motley Crue’s original line-up of Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Tommy Lee and Vince Neil - as if anybody could name the band member’s occasional replacements in the ‘down-time’, or early ‘90s to mid-00’s hit-free period – but then it is a testament to the ‘Crue that any of them are still talking considering the brutal in-band bitching that’s become as famous as their unhealthy lifestyles.

But Motley Crue are all now in their 50s, and have surely grown into well balanced men with a wealth of experience and know-how, right? Nah, who am I kidding!? The young bushy haired men who proudly sang about Smokin’ In The Boys Room and Girls, Girls, Girls refused to die, if the twenty-foot high expressions on Motley Crue’s craggily faces, peering down at us from the live-feed projection screens are anything to go by. Alas though the band’s aggression and prowess, much like their long-gone youth cannot be sustained for very long following the tremendous first rush of Too Fast For Love.

Despite the 30 years of ‘Crue action, its hard to ignore the feeling that Vince, Nikki and Mick don’t seem particularly comfortable with one another as they shift around the stage swapping mics so that fans can get a good look at each member. In particular, Vince’s attempt to finger Nikki’s bass strings mid-song results in a quick and very awkward retreat by Sixx, who gets a pretty stern glower in return. Meanwhile guitarist Mick Mars, with his frozen expression, begrudgingly joins the other two on a narrow raised platform in a woeful attempt to show solidarity that fails to translate as anything other than forced. The show is only three songs in, and already the seams are unraveling, so what a better way to distract from this fact than by wheeling out a huge mirror-balled grand piano that even Elton John would consider ‘a bit camp’ and getting drummer Tommy Lee to play it under a cool blue spotlight.

Tommy always had the 'extra spicy' curry before a performance.
Now Tommy Lee may be the owner of the most famous penis in rock, but he’s here to prove that there’s more to him than just an over-sized schlong, dammit! Lee makes a big show of prepping for his piano solo - as he would have done at every concert on this tour no doubt – and cue the big ‘80s power-ballad moment that, eh nobody appears to have been waiting for. Home Sweet Home, quite frankly dies mid-way through, as even from up in the bleachers, the audiences boredom is palpable. A rather telling long break follows and the stage lights are cut as the band hurriedly cross off every ballad from the set list and re-emerge with nowt but cock-rock left.

Next up, its stage two of Tommy Lee’s attempt to steal the show with an even more pointless display than his piano fiasco with the mother of all Spinal Tap moments; his kit, which has been mounted at the base of a circular vertical roller-coaster track, begins to edge up and around as he plays the most obviously not-live drum solo of all-time. Lee’s strapped in to his stool, so you know he’s gonna go the full 360 degrees, he does, and the effect is sickening, but not particularly ‘sick’. For about 10 minutes, Lee, after hauling a completely non-plussed fan up to join the ride, continues his rotating drum solo, aided by bursts of flame and showering sparks, but by now my mind is just wandering to things like ‘what happened to the rest of the band’ and ‘the level of insurance they would have to pay incase the ‘lucky’ audience member slips out of the restraints must be astronomical’.

Finally the rest of the band return, and we are in the home stretch of Motely Crue’s 30th anniversary concert, which so far has been every kind of absurd, but served up without a shred of irony. Not much so far has happened to cause any offense or ruffle feathers, but despite the long break off stage, Vince Neil appears to have given just about all he’s got and so he puffs his way through Dr Feelgood, forgetting half the lyrics and walking where he previously would run. The performance only continues to become more and more shambolic after this, and no amount of fire balls, smoke jets, sparks, cannons or revolving drum kits can hide the fact. Nikki Sixx barks into the mic to rouse up the audience as the show concludes – again with no sense of irony - “When we first got together, we knew we needed a singer like Steven Tyler, Robert Plant and Bon Scott… and with Vince Neil, we got all three!”

Even Vince wasn’t entirely convinced of Sixx’s comparison, but in a final act of forced unity, the band embrace and hold one-another’s arms aloft, and remind us how much better we were as an audience than… insert any capital city that isn’t Melbourne. But by then it was all too late for Motley Crue’s fans here at Rod Laver. I’m going out on a big general limb here, but if Australian audiences can be summarised at all, I think it’s safe to say, you just can’t bullshit us. Motley wanted to be loved so badly that they were literally turning on their heads to impress us, but in reality a few more weeks in rehearsals would’ve sufficed. The biggest shocker of all though is, who would have guessed the most notorious hard living, hard drinking, hard shagging band this side of the Rolling Stones damn well fake it?



  1. That sums it up nicely! Although this scribe personally feels the whole gig was rather draconian, and lacking of the proper chemistry to carry the band forward through dizzying rock and roll heights. Even the firecrackers were louder than the band... Maybe Motley Crue should gave stuck firecrackers up their ass?

  2. I disagree. Have you ever heard any of their live stuff from the 80's? They were never very tight live, they always stuffed up, Vince always got out of breath and Nikki has never ever been able to play. If you went there thinking that you were going to get a musically brilliant show, then you were always going to be disappointed. The only one there with any real talent is Mick Mars (one of rock's greatest guitarists), who did a great job in moving around the stage, considering he has a bone disease which is slowly freezing him in place.
    In my opinion, Crue love their fans and, even though they are turing into fat old men, did their best to rock. As a huge Crue fan, I loved seeing them and got exactly what I expected.

  3. "Meanwhile guitarist Mick Mars, with his frozen expression, begrudgingly joins the other two on a narrow raised platform in a woeful attempt to show solidarity that fails to translate as anything other than forced"
    Mick Mars is very sick. He can barely move and he can't move his head up and down. You are a heartless piece of *beep*.

  4. Look, I didn't expect anything amazing, but what stuck in my craw is not really how average the performance was, but how tired the band seemed of even delivering their famed 'sense of fun and excess'. They were clearly doing this as an earner, and hooray for them - would never begrudge a band its income - but you can't pay a band to look like they give a damn.

    I agree also that Mick Mars was working harder than any of the others. His playing was brilliant.