Vince Neil is fat and out of breath. He can’t hit the notes. He flops around the stage like a useless blonde carp.

Their old stuff was better than their new stuff. Pic: Flourish PR

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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49 comments

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    • NSW says:

      08:19am | 26/09/11

      According to your bio it says you are a musican… what sort of a musician would listen to garbage like Motley Crue? Being able to play play along to rubbish music like this doesn’t make a person a musician.

    • Mahhrat says:

      08:31am | 26/09/11

      Did you write this ironically, NSW?

    • TRBGR says:

      09:44am | 26/09/11

      “What sort of a musician would listen to garbage like Motley Crue?”

      Well, me for one.

      Chefs don’t eat Michelin star cuisine for every meal either. Some times gettin’ down and dirty is the best thing for you.

      Anyway, I’ll let you get back to your Katy Perry.

    • Dave says:

      09:55am | 26/09/11

      Hey! Don’t knock Katy Perry. She’s one of the best lip-syncers around.

    • Keith Hammersmith says:

      11:22am | 26/09/11

      how many albums they sell?  Pretty successful for rubbish no?  It doesn’t have to be classical to be entertaining, and Motley crue were very entertaining to their youthful audience back in the day.
      (sounds like an unsuccessful musician a tad jealous of their success)

    • Shane says:

      01:04pm | 26/09/11

      @NSW - shut up with your “they’re crap” nonsense.
      Just because you don’t like a band, doesn’t mean they are crap. I’d prefer to drink bleach than listen to them but I am not dull or tedious enough to sound like a middle-aged has been, complaining about “rubbish music” and “garbage”.

      Go away.

    • Crue Fan says:

      08:55am | 26/09/11

      I saw the concert and enjoyed it immensely including Brett Michaels in support. In recent times I have seen several bands with ageing musicians, including AC/DC and Def Leppard, and enjoyed them too. The performance may not have been perfect but it was good value and I would go again.

    • Tator says:

      09:02am | 26/09/11

      It looks like there is a common theme with a lot of these “comeback” tours, just look at how Whitney Houston flopped when she toured last year.  Not every group can be like the Rolling Stones and keep on rocking into their geriatric years.  But many are forced to by the existence of digital media which allows easy copying of music so their royalty streams are drying up and the only way they can make the big dollars their rock and roll lifestyles need to survive is to get back on tour.  We are finding that some groups do not age well and some performers are just not physically able to perform as they did in their peak either due to age, lack of fitness or substance abuse.  So it is a case of caveat emptor for these wanting to relive their youth at veteran rock band concerts as you are not guaranteed the same performance now as you were 20 years ago.

    • Markus says:

      09:19am | 26/09/11

      Don’t give me that crap. These are bands/artists whose royalty stream died up long before the onset of the internet and digital media.

      The reason they are touring is because it is easy money.
      Australia is a musical wasteland. So desperate are the people for musical entertainment that they are willing to pay anything and everything, even to see bands that were never even that good in their prime.

      There is no other country in the world where a bunch of washed-up hacks like Motley Crue would have the balls to charge upward of $160 a ticket.

    • Wickerman says:

      09:28am | 26/09/11

      I think Tator nails it with the older bands problems. Motley Crue may have hit an age wall, but there are many metal/hard rock bands still going & performing to a high standard:
      - Iron Maiden
      - AC/DC
      - Deep Purple (yes they are still going)
      - Ozzy Ozbourne
      - Whitesnake
      - ZZ Top


      Though, one band that has recently have dropped the ball/quality - Judas Priest. But at least they are calling it a day soon before they become Spinal Tap.

    • Jim says:

      11:24am | 26/09/11

      Markus…that’s a very small minded opinion. Most of these bands have never stopped touring, the fact that it’s been 20 years between visiting Australia doesn’t mean they are washed up!

      There’s a reason why bands from the 70/80/early 90’s are packing out stadiums all around the world - it’s because the music is 1000 times better. Even with no new material, just rehashing the same-old, it kills anything new. The last few years I’ve seen Bon Jovi, Fleetwood Mac, Tears for Fears, Spandau Ballet, G’n'R, Skid Row, Tesla, The Pretenders, Chris Isaak…all great artists with real music. Each venue was packed with extra shows put on.

      Now looking forward to Def Leppard next month.

      The only band I’ve heard recently from that era that I’ve scewed my face up at is Cinderella, and that’s only because Tom Keifer has destroyed his vocal chords by singing with polyps.

      PS Tator - Whitney Houston has flopped on stage her entire career…she’s purely a recording studio artist.

    • JRosie says:

      11:47am | 26/09/11

      @Wickerman, You forgot Guns n Roses? Saw them Dec last year and Axl still sounds incredible!!

    • Markus says:

      02:09pm | 26/09/11

      Careful Jim, you’re showing your age.

      “the fact that it’s been 20 years between visiting Australia doesn’t mean they are washed up!”
      For a lot of them it actually does, especially those that had never been to Australia before in their careers. Ever wonder why it took them 20 years to come back? And that their decision to come back conveniently coincided with the knowledge they could get away with charging $150 a ticket?

      I’m not saying some aren’t still capable of putting on good shows, but you are kidding yourself if you think they are as good/better than they were at their peak.

      You are right on one thing though, there is a reason why bands from the 70/80/early 90’s are packing out stadiums all around the world - nostalgic Gen Xers with disposable income.
      Spandau Ballet? Nuff said.

    • Mike says:

      11:19pm | 26/09/11

      Sorry Wickerman, although I do agree with your line-up and love them all, I would have to disagree respectfully re: Judas Priest.

      Example being - the thing that let them down in Adelaide 2008 was the horrendous way that the Entertainment Centre acoustics were configured…the reflection off the back wall just destructively interfered and the whole concert sound was terrible, across what was a half-empty house.  You could tell from the warm up band what was going to happen and really, the AEC should be ashamed of themselves.  Thebarton Theatre, although smaller, has FAR better acoustics and would have been a much better venue without reflecting on ‘how many people like the band’.  I reckon that a full house would have rocked.

      I saw Queensryche in 2006 (I think ! smile - Mindcrime 2) in St Kilda and it was fantastic, there were 3-4 bands on and it was a six hour gig.  The room size was just right and cosy, the band were right in front of you and it was an amazing night.

      Contrast Judas Priest in Adelaide versus the Budokan performance and I still think that Judas Priest and ESPECIALLY Rob Halford still have it.  They still hold a very special place in my heart, but like Slash said in the paper two weeks ago - “if I was a teenager here in Australia, I would think that the whole place is a musical wasteland”. 

      I have to agree, especially with ‘reality shows’ giving the masses what they want.  Where are all the heavy metal or rock acts on these shows ?  There aren’t any.  Does it mean that no one like heavy metal or rock ?  No, it just means that as it was 10,20, 30 years ago, we still give the people their fix of mass-manufactured music from bands who are not around anymore (S-Express, Jason Donavon, De La Soul, NKOTB, Bros, MC Hammer etc. - where are they now ?!), yet the bands you mentioned, plus names like Motorhead and Status Quo (who were around back then) are still going strong.

      Why ?  Because these bands have stood both the test of time and passing fads - bands and people who are still around, like Chris Isaak, Elton John, Simply Red, Rod Stewart, Lionel Ritchie etc. are some of the different acts that I have also seen and loved too.  Eclectic tastes smile

      However, I never really got into Motley Crue, so I cannot comment.

      On a different note, I was absolutely heartbroken when I heard of Ronnie James Dio passing - because people like him and Rob Halford have given so much back to music in general, and especially heavy metal.  I have to say that I was disgusted at the antics of a certain group of people who protested outside of Ronnie’s funeral (who also parade outside the funerals of US troops who were KIA) with their warped, bigoted views of the world.  Where is their respect for those who have passed on ?

    • Anna C says:

      09:03am | 26/09/11

      Motley Crew are a bunch of middle aged, washed up, has-beens who are only touring because they snorted most of their money away in the 80’s and 90’s.

    • TRBNGR says:

      10:13am | 26/09/11

      I think (actually, I know) you’ll find that Motley Crue, through some very shrewd business decisions, are amongst the wealthiest rock stars known to man or beast.

      Gawd, I’m gonna end up sounding like their bloody press agent before the days out.

    • Ned says:

      12:25pm | 27/09/11

      30 years from now we’ll be saying the same thing about whoever you’re currently into.

    • Fred says:

      10:16am | 26/09/11

      I was going to say that I am glad I am a failed rock star. But at $160 a ticket with a 12,990 capacity they’re pulling in over 2 million dollars a gig. Just for a few hours work playing some old songs.

    • William Colvin says:

      09:32am | 27/09/11

      Don’t forget that’s 2 million split between the band, promoters, crew, venue hire, plane tickets, back-line, fireworks, pyrotechnicians and more.

    • acotrel says:

      10:20am | 26/09/11

      Any live music is better than none !  I’d never normally listen to the type of music that Motley Crue make, but if it replaces the inane fodder served up as entertainment in other ways these days, I support it !

    • Heidi Grace says:

      10:28am | 26/09/11

      Nikki Sixx is still hot…and his band Sixx A.M are way better than Crue ever were

    • Anna C says:

      10:57am | 26/09/11

      I’ve heard that his autobiography is a great read too.

    • Fiona says:

      09:02pm | 26/09/11

      I’ve read the motley Crüe one. They all take turns telling the story. It’s very interesting. I still shudder when I think of them touring with ozzy.
      Wicker man left Metallica off his list. Not that ICANN stomach coughing up the money for concert tickets anymore.

    • Horns Up says:

      11:08am | 26/09/11

      I like Crue now much more than I did at their height during my youth. But after that review I’m glad I didn’t stump up the required bucket of cash to go see them.

      I am glad I saw Iron Maiden earlier in the year. Absolutely awesome as always. Anytime they come to Aus. I’ll be there!

      \m/

    • Elphaba says:

      02:28pm | 26/09/11

      I missed them, I was away.  But I have the Rock In Rio concert, and I’m with you - the next time they’re close enough, I’m going! smile

    • colroe says:

      11:30am | 26/09/11

      Ok, they are not metal, heavy or otherwise, but the best band in the world is still the Rolling Stones.  Sure, they have aged, and they sure look it, but what great sound and songs.

    • MikeS says:

      02:48pm | 26/09/11

      Mick killed Brian

    • Shenanigans says:

      12:02pm | 26/09/11

      Fall out boy are heavier then Motley crue, go listen to a real metal band then get back to me.


      here’s two real bands.
      Killswitch Engage - pioneers and masters of the metal genre
      Parkway drive - an example of the musical awesomeness that is Australian underground artists

    • Wayne Kerr says:

      12:38pm | 26/09/11

      I call Shenanigans

      Motley Crue were considered metal in their day.  It was glam metal but still classed as metal.  Metal today is vastly different to how metal first started and their are/were so many sub-categories as well.

    • Elphaba says:

      12:52pm | 26/09/11

      Oh, Shenanigans…

      Regardless of whether you like Motley Crue or not (and I’m not a fan - never did like hair metal), they and the other early metal bands were blueprints for all the ‘modern’ metal you listen to today.

      They ARE real metal bands, whether you like it or not.

      wink

    • Wickerman says:

      01:59pm | 26/09/11

      Motley Crue are metal, maybe of an older school, but metal nevertheless.
      Killswitch Engage +1, but I wouldnt call them pioneers…

    • bella starkey says:

      02:09pm | 26/09/11

      Shenanigans is taking the piss right?

    • Kate says:

      03:20pm | 26/09/11

      There are about fifty different kinds of metal. Motley Crue are an example of one sub-genre of metal. It may not be a particularly good sub-genre, but it’s a type of metal nonetheless.
      Unfortunately, for every awesome sub-genre like death metal, industrial metal etc there is an abomination like nu-metal.

    • Elphaba says:

      03:40pm | 26/09/11

      “abomination like nu-metal.”

      +1 to Kate.

    • stephen says:

      03:48pm | 26/09/11

      And lets hope they stay underground.

    • Mattb says:

      04:20pm | 26/09/11

      Shenanigans

      Don’t know if I’d classify killswitch as ‘metal’, leaning more towards ‘hardcore’. Then again, it’s confusing, it’s hard to dump a band from the 00’s into the same category as a band from the 80’s if you know what I mean. Maybe killswitch are ‘metal’, just not the same ‘metal’ as Motley Crüe.

      Seen killswitch live a few years ago, unbelievable power, unbelievable energy. You just stand there in awe, blows you away…..

    • Jotun says:

      11:53pm | 26/09/11

      Shenanigans, don’t think KSE are actually that original. Bands like them started all cropping up after At the Gates and In Flames came to the attention of the USA market with heavy melodic death metal.

      But I digress, Motley Crue were not really that metal. Glam was an LA version of hard rock.

    • Warriors 20 Storm 12 says:

      01:01pm | 26/09/11

      Your comment:The only Motley Crews I know are Labor and the Coalition !
      They make noise and not music.

    • JB says:

      09:44am | 27/09/11

      This writer is definitely not stuck in a rut as he writes about everything imaginable but loves to revisit old rockers while troll baiting someone like you CJ.

    • S.L says:

      02:29pm | 26/09/11

      Motley Crue are making an honest buck out of entertaining the crowd of paying patrons and good luck to them! I’m not a big fan of them myself but their music will still be played long after the latest list of wannabe music “stars” are forgotten (like in about 10 minutes).

    • The Warrior Cats says:

      03:46pm | 26/09/11

      Your comment:Motley Crue ? who are they? They were before my time.
      Will Motley Crue play the national anthems at the Manly and Collingwood funerals this long weekend?

    • Pie Eagle says:

      04:22pm | 26/09/11

      Ask your mum who they are, she knows…  wink

    • The Warrior Cats says:

      03:47pm | 26/09/11

      Bring back Midnight Oil !

    • Utopia Boy says:

      06:18pm | 26/09/11

      Saw the Crue a couple of years ago in Brissy (2005?) and they were still pretty tight.
      Their albums rocked until Vince left and everything since his return has been garbage.
      Reunion tours are nothing but money makers, and why not?
      Bob Seger once said even if you play mediocre songs, but are willing to tour and tour and tour the same places, you will build an audience. Crue, like many others have never really stopped working, and as such are entitled to charge as much as they want for a ticket. Take out logistics, rental gear, insurance, management etc etc, then divide up what’s left between the band members and there wouldn’t be much to go around. They MIGHT make $10 - $15 to share out of the $160 charged. Less tax.
      Artists in general are receiving less than a dollar from an album sold on iTunes.
      The recording industry is in the toilet, so tour away!

    • Lauren says:

      12:47pm | 28/09/11

      There’s never anything quite like a concert review by a journo about as familiar with them as last night’s quick Wikipedia refresher will get them.

      Quick corrections:
      Mick Mars, 60, is a long time sufferer of ankylosing spondilitis and scoliosis. His spine has crushed downwards and cemented itself together, causing him to drop 3 inches in height and live each day in chronic pain amidst a slew of pills and potions. I had “chronic arthritis” when I was sixteen. (I’m now twenty-one). That is a papercut compared to what he has.  So yes - “Good on him”.

      Secondly, the song is known as Same Ol’ Situation. And it is by no stretch of the imagination a semi-ballad.

      Vince Neil has never been known for his dulcet tones - in fact, if you have read The Dirt, you will know that the band acknowledged this in 1981 and only hired him for his showmanship and fan base accumulated from his former band, Rock Candy. Go watch some live footage from 1983 - nothing has changed except his waistline.

      I think for a bunch of guys who lived harder than anyone else in the 80s, including a bassist who legally died twice of heroin overdose, continue to play as the original line up thirty years later with a set list chosen by fans (not flogging any recent material) deserves much more credit than you have given them with this condescending review. Bet you were there for Bret Michaels.

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