April 1, 2005 in Region

‘80s band stages flashy comeback

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Brian Plonka photo

Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil rips through the opening act Wednesday night at the Spokane Arena.
(Full-size photo)

About halfway through Motley Crue’s concert, Tommy Lee was hoisted up near the rafters where he swung between two drum kits, pounding out solos on oil drums, beer kegs and electronic pads.

That high-wire act might have been one of the most entertaining moments of the night, but true Crue fans dusted off their vintage butt-rock tour T-shirts to relive the classic ‘80s metal era of spiked hair, muscle shirts and denim miniskirts; not to hear Lee tinker with his latest electro-pop fetish.

While the Crue pulled out nearly all its hits, there was more show than rock at the two-thirds full Arena on Wednesday night.

Instead of an opening band, the concert started with a bizarre claymation short about a planetoid on a collision course with the Earth and the only hope is a comeback concert by the Crue.

Next, the audience was greeted onstage by an evil-eyed clown that looked like something out of an issue of Spawn. Then the stage, draped in a circus-style tent, opened up to the Crue and a cadre of leather-bikini-clad dancers would later spit fire and shoots sparks between their legs.

And there were plenty of pyrotechnics to pad roaring rock from the jumpoff of the night’s first song, “Shout At The Devil.”

It’s a good thing there was so much to look at besides the Crue.

While there is something eternally cool about Vince Neil’s oozing skankiness, it was laughable when the aged rock star was screaming the lyrics for “Too Young To Fall In Love,” though his voice was on point most of the time.

Guitarist Mick Mars looked like he was standing on the edge of death. His posture hasn’t improved; he’s suffered a bone condition for most of his career. He appeared onstage hunched over and detached, almost motionless except for his fingers. Yet his solos didn’t falter one bit and mirrored the studio recordings down to the last note.

The real star of Motley Crue, Tommy Lee, reignited the crowd lulls almost single-handedly with his taunts and all-around mischief. Wearing a necktie and no shirt so he could show off his ink, Lee jammed hard on every number.

Motley Crue’s one-man driving force, bassist Nikki Sixx, had a constant glow about him that felt as familiar as the opening riff to “Wildside.” Sixx is the blood-spitting essence of Motley Crue, and that was evident from his looks of approval between songs.

The Crue took plenty of breaks, at which time the circus would continue with the dancing girls, a token little person named Mighty Mike, and twisted film footage.

Each time the Crue retook the stage it did so with theatrical glam, riding out on choppers and with various costume changes.

Sixx played a keyboard solo bit that wasn’t nearly as entertaining as the burlesque-like dancers who were swinging from chains.

The Crue continued to blast through old favorites such as “Looks That Kill” and “Dr. Feelgood,” with great momentum until the “Topless Cam” was passed around by Lee and Sixx while women in the audience flashed their breasts.

After that, Sixx introduced new songs from Motley Crue’s February release, “Red, White and Crue.” That was about the time several audience members started to filter out of the Arena.

The new songs, especially a sobering number called “If I Die Tomorrow,” didn’t do much for the crowd. Fans forgave the Crue when it returned to the old stuff and then left the stage for the quintessential encore, which should have been “Home Sweet Home,” but that song was played earlier in the set.

Instead, the last song was the overly covered “Anarchy In The UK.”

But by that point the Crue had played all their hits except “Smokin’ In The Boys Room,” and that, at least, left most of the crowd satisfied.

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