A Motley performance from an ageing Crue
Vince Neil is fat and out of breath. He can’t hit the notes. He flops around the stage like a useless blonde carp.
A chubby twelve year old girl with a new karaoke machine on Christmas Day. The band sound muddy and flat, like AM radio played through a 700-watt bass stack.
It’s Friday night’s Motley Crue concert at the Sydney Entertainment Centre.
Once upon a time these four men were the very definition of decadence. Their androgenous cartoon glamour was enough to heavily confuse any man, and their devil may care attitude and drove their female fans into a frenzy. Their concerts were the stuff of legend.
The third song starts with a spotlight on Mick Mars. He does a muddy, violent semi solo in which he doesn’t play any notes, just whacks at the fretboard and pulls on his whammy bar.
It’s actually pretty cool, until he does it three more times over the course of the evening. It’s worth pointing though that for most of his career Mr Mars has suffered from a form of chronic arthritis, and the fact that he can do any kind of solo is an impressive feat.
Good on him.
And then the band plays their semi-ballad, Same Old Situation, and something changes.
What’s happening? Suddenly, this blonde, fake tan-covered buffoon, who moments ago was struggling to even produce a gasp, can really sing.
The whole band can suddenly be heard. The sound engineer has woken up. Gone are the fumbling geriatrics struggling to produce an inaudible wall of white noise, and in it’s stead is a gang of proper musicians, doing a proper rock concert.
I’m 16 years old and everything is desperately important again. My heroes are on the stage and I’m thrilled to be privileged to even bask in a trickle of their glory.
Tommy Lee comes to the fore of the stage and addresses the crowd. The man is as close as you can come to a true, real life moron, but somehow his showmanship is quite captivating.
During his theatrical smoke machine and piano intro for Home Sweet Home, I find myself gurgling and burbling with delight like a 2 year old. I’m an idiot. They’ve brought me to their level.
I remember how important this band was to me once, and I remember my friends from that time who have all since moved on or, in one case, passed away. I’m irritated at how hard my heart-strings are being tugged, but only mildly.
The graphics on the gigantic, circular screen behind Mr Lee’s drum riser would’ve been dated even in 1996, which is probably the last time they were updated.
He plays a drum solo over a mash-up of dub-step and electronica and all the magic disappears. For a moment.
And then said drum kit begins to rotate around the circular roller coaster track, culminating with him playing upside down, and then doing it again with an audience participant strapped in next to him. A little of the magic returns.
The show continues in this manner, flopping between moments of shining glory and thick nostalgia, and muddy, gunky lows in which the band seems to have been inexplicably replaced by a cover group comprised of your dad and his friends wearing 80’s wigs.
At the end of the night I’m left feeling empty. I suppose I enjoyed the show, but it’s all gone as soon as the lights fade up.
Outside, in the line for the toilets, a man stumbles in. “Bogger or pissers?”, he queries, staring at the queue. Seeing that there are urinals available he is delighted. “PISSSSSSEEEEERSSSS!”, he declares triumphantly.
The band are certainly competent. Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee are a solid back end, and Mick Mars is a dignified and engimatic presence with an enormous guitar sound.
The weakest link in the chain is singer Vince Neil, who even once his voice has warmed up, spends a great deal of time passing the microphone, and the vocal duties, to the audience.
But the whole band are tired. Gone is the feeling of youth and vibrance, the tattooed, eyelinered and lipsticked shock and awe. It’s replaced with a feeling of middle-aged desperation. In 2011, Motley Crue are the walking illustration of a mid-life crisis.
This week, researchers in Italy measured a particle called a neutrino traveling faster than the speed of light. This allegedly makes time travel a possibility.
Perhaps this means that we’ll be able to one day see Motley Crue as they should be seen, but for now, I’m happy to leave these ancient rockers buried in the past.
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