The Spectacle of Mötley Crüe
Mötley Crüe’s Glam-A-Geddon Tour, with Poison and the New York Dolls, brought all the explosions, titillation, and special effects of a Mad Max movie to the Schottenstein Center last night.
With Mötley Crüe and Poison celebrating their 30th and 25th anniversary respectively, there is a certain nostalgia to their shows. Not that it’s a bad thing. Myself, and a large contingent of the audience came tonight to hear the music we used to hide from our parents. That aspect of nostalgia, though, can lead to a lack of surprises. What is a band to do, when your audience can basically write out the setlist before hand?
Opening act, New York Dolls, started things off with a fantastic set. Unfortunately, not many in the audience cared. It’s a shame since they are considered one of the major influences of the 80’s glam metal scene. Lead singer, David Johansen, sounded great, and I don’t mean just great for a 61 year old. He and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain (the only other original member left) bantered before ripping through classic cuts like “Looking for a Kiss,” “Trash,” “Personality Crises,” and a raucous cover of Bo Diddley’s “Pills.” Johansen also provided the line of that night claiming Rolling Stone declared their new album the greatest record ever made…“right after two Steve Miller albums, and Carol King’s Tapestry.”
The audience would show up in full frenzy mode by the time Poison took the stage. Moments before, drummer, Rikki Rockett spray painted “Buckeyes” on his bass drums, the crowd was so amped, they were cheering and singing along with the pre-show music. Poison rode that energy all the way from the opening riff of “Look What the Cat Dragged In” to the closer “Nothin’ But a Good Time.” The only new song that made its way into the setlist was a cover of Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re an American Band,” which was… Let’s just say I think the Grand Funk version was awful to begin with. The rest of their setlist was filled with all the hits you would expect: “Unskinny Bop,” “Fallen Angel,” “Talk Dirty to Me” etc. This all lead to a solid but predictable show. They even shoe horned in a drum solo and C.C. Deville guitar solo. I know these solos are a staple and provide a break for the other band members, but are they absolutely necessary? The one surprise was actually, front man, Brett Michaels. Maybe it was because of his health struggles last year, but he took the stage like this was Poison’s first ever arena tour. His whole performance carried a feeling of pure joy, and he was going to be certain the crowd experienced it too.
With a literal bang, that nearly caused about a hundred heart attacks in the arena, the curtain dropped to reveal Mötley Crüe standing in front of a part Thunderdome and part Burlesque construction with ramps extending into the entry level seats. Guitarist Mick Mars started into “Wild Side,” beginning the onslaught of hits that would make up most of their 90+ minute set. For this tour, Mötley Crüe let the fans decide the setlist through an online poll. While you got your “Home Sweet Home” and “Girls, Girls, Girls,” they also played hardcore fan favorites like “Ten Seconds to Love.” I would assume in an attempt to be current, lead singer, Vince Neil tried to fit a bit of Cee-Lo Green’s “F@#k You” into “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away).” It not only felt dated,(Even my grandmother thinks that song is played out), but it just made a mess of the whole song. Everything else was simply classic Mötley Crüe bathing in pyro and fan adoration. Remember what I said about drum solos before? I guess Tommy Lee is an exception. His solo consisted of attaching his drum kit to a roller coaster track that would take him upside down and back around. A lucky fan even got plucked from the audience to go for a ride. Bassist Nikki Sixx went onto to explain that Lee’s drum contraption was actually designed years ago. I guess, if you have to do a drum solo, make it a full tilt ride. After the solo the concert went a little darker thematically. The two back-up singers/dancers changed from burlesque dresses to Mad Max attire including mohawk wigs and the occasional flame thrower. The video screen images were a little more disturbing. There also seemed to be a lot more fire. The show culminated into roadies with flame throwers, Nikki Sixx spitting fake blood, Vince Neil screaming “Kickstart My Heart,” and buckets of fake blood that would soon drench the first few rows of the enraptured audience.
To say the audience enjoyed every moment would be an understatement. They came to hear their favorites and both bands delivered. From Poison’s set onward the people clapped, cheered, raised their “maloik,” and sang every word to every song. Even this hardened critic left the arena with shot vocal chords.
Small side note: For those worried about the youth of today, there was a young teen sporting some awesome Ace Frehly, Destroyer era, boots. May the rock gods bless your Beiber-hating heart.
Bradford Iten; Columbus Wired