By Eugene B. Sims
The weekend can happen any day or any time when Motley Crue comes to town. That is exactly what happened when they pulled into the Greensboro Coliseum on their farewell tour. Beer was going down, hair was teased, the skirts were short, and denim was plentiful in the crowd prepared to party on a Wednesday evening. There were kids of all ages in attendance rocking their hearts out with all inhibitions left at home.
The Raskins, from New York, opened up the festivities with a rousing set of raucous tunes with pop sensibilities wrapped in leather jackets. They opened with “Save Me Now” complete with cheap pops to get the crowd on their side. The mix was a little muddy, but that didn’t dampen the spirit of the crowd ready for a rock n’ roll throw down.
The Raskins sported haircuts and leather like The Ramones while throwing a curve ball by covering “The Breakup Song” from The Greg Kihn Band. The crowd was clearly on their side until they played their first single “We Had It All”. The song lacked that special “hook” that makes a tune memorable and that did cause their performance to lose a little steam. Given the thirty minutes they had opening up the evening, they made a good impression on the crowd and this reviewer.
The rock and roll legend known as Alice Cooper hit the stage with “Hello Hooray” that expertly weaved itself into “No More Mr. Nice Guy”. There was an ease with the way Cooper went from hit to hit that only a showman of his caliber is able to deliver. “Under My Wheels” got the audience singing along with every word and “I’m Eighteen” got the fists pumping with defiance not usually found on a hump day.
“Billion Dollar Babies” seemed like a deep cut that only true fans knew, but the crowd roared back to life when Cooper cranked up a later hit by the name of “Poison”. The song was more familiar with those that spent hours watching MTV. “Dirty Diamonds” provided a good showcase for all the musicians in the band especially the female guitarist Nita Strauss. In a field dominated by men, she brought the kind of six string thrills that gave every guy in the building “Peavey envy”. Strauss was solid even while working the crowd with her Steve Vai-like slight of hand antics.
“Welcome To My Nightmare” was a nice change of pace as Cooper took the stage with his boa constrictor neck accessory. The pace picked up again as Cooper donned a bloody butchers smock for “Feed My Frankenstein”. “The Ballad Of Dwight Frye” led to the beheading of Alice complete with snippets from the song “Killer”. “I Love The Dead” closed out that segment before Cooper and band repositioned themselves as petulant teenage rockers with “Schools Out” complete with a nod to “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” expertly weaved within.
Quick and to the point with hit songs, Alice Cooper’s forty-five minute portion of the evening left the crowd wanting more time with the venerable icon and his Sears catalog of songs and forgotten gems. It was very unfortunate that we didn’t get performances of “Only Women Bleed”, “Go To Hell”, “Is It My Body”, or “Some Folks”. But the crowd was satisfied with Alice Cooper’s set nonetheless.
During the brief intermission between Cooper and the Crue, the crowd were treated with the Von Trapp children singing “So Long, Farewell” from ‘The Sound Of Music’. The house lights went down and it was on. Motley Crue hit the stage with “Saints of Los Angeles”. The backup singers were pole-dancing as the bad boys of rock n’ roll assaulted the eyeballs and eardrums of everyone in attendance with “Wild Side”.
Mick Mars may lumber around the stage like the walking dead because of health issues, but that didn’t seem to stop his particular brand of guitar gymnastics on the fretboard. If anything, his playing has improved over the thirty-three years with Motley Crue.
During the song “Primal Scream” flames and pyrotechnics erupted from all parts of the stage. It was as if Hell spat them out to show Greensboro what a real rock n’ roll show was all about.
The lead singer, Vince Neil, donned a guitar during “Same Old Situation”. It seemed more like a prop than a necessary part of the song. But the crowd didn’t care as they sang along with every word. When the band played their first big MTV hit, “Looks That Kill”, the stage seemed to transform into a post-apocalyptic strip club as the dancers shook their groove things in silhouette while fire was erupting all around.
Then the band slowed things down a bit with “On With The Show” from their first album. The Crue double-dipped with the glam-rocking title track from that same album, ‘Too Fast For Love’. Those songs were proof that this should be the farewell tour for Neil’s voice even though he prowls the stage with a presence felt to the rafters.
Then an odd moment occurred as the band cranked up Gary Glitter’s “Rock And Roll Part 2” that segued into their cover of Brownsville Station’s “Smokin’ In The Boys Room”. It felt like a sick joke was being made since Glitter is a convicted child molester.
Vince Neil’s vocals once again showed some road worn damage as the band performed “Without You”. But the crowd didn’t care as they sang along with confetti flying around like wayward moths. But the beauty of that song was quickly shattered in Motley Crue fashion with the following song “Mutherf***er Of The Year”.
The band took a break as Nikki Sixx gave us a Motley Crue history lesson along with some of his trust-your-instincts philosophy. It was an unnecessary few minutes that could have been better served treating the audience with another song. It was used as a launching pad for their love of punk rock with the Sex Pistols tune “Anarchy In The U.K.”.
“Dr. Feelgood” put the crowd on more familiar turf. It was followed by Sixx and his flame-throwing bass guitar lighting up the stage with the song “Shout At The Devil”. The abundance of flames and pyrotechnics didn’t cover up Neil’s worn voice as he mumbled through the majority of the lyrics. He was unable to soar with those vocal highs from his younger days. The flames were toned down and the song “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” became a campfire sing along as the stage was bathed in orange and pastel lighting.
And since Motley Crue has always been about excess, Tommy Lee’s drum solo did not disappoint. Lee’s entire drum riser was lifted along two tracks that looked like a sea serpent rising from the stage and stretching to the back of the Greensboro Coliseum floor. During his solo, the drum riser rotated from right side up to upside down proving not only his prowess on the kit, but Lee’s physical endurance. Tommy Lee may not be the greatest drummer in rock n’ roll, but he definitely had every eye and mouth open during his solo stunt.
The rest of the evening consisted of Crue hits “Live Wire”, “Too Young To Fall In Love”, and “Girls, Girls, Girls”. That solidified the belief that they should hang it up as live performers. It wasn’t until the closing number “Kickstart My Heart” that lead singer Neil got back to any semblance of his former years. The encore and final song of the evening was, of course, their biggest hit “Home Sweet Home”. And like the odd placement of the Von Trapp children, “My Way” by Ol’ Blue Eyes Frank Sinatra closed out the evening.
To wrap up the review with some boxing terms… The Raskins danced around and roughed us up a bit. Alice Cooper delivered well placed punches to the body that opened us up for the knock out punch. But Motley Crue just couldn’t muster up that haymaker shot for the knock out. It wasn’t a bad show from the Crue. Their performance was just excessive with calories instead of actual substance.
Eugene B. sims is an intregal member of The Less Desireables podcast and is also the Producer and Sex Symbol for The WSJS Afternoon Show weekdays at 4:00pm on AM 600 WSJS and wsjs.com. You can listen to him on The Less Desireables HERE.