GIG REVIEW: MÖTLEY CRÜE + ALICE COOPER | Allphones Arena (SYD) | 16.5.15

Monday, May 18, 2015

This was it, folks. The final call for ‘Kickstart My Heart’. Motley Crue, true survivors of the 80s with a back catalogue of supercharged  songs that have fueled many a braintrip. And, while not disappointed, I felt a strange sense of doing things by numbers at All Phones last Saturday night. There was some onstage banter (courtesy of Vince) referring to timelines, but it never journeyed further from there. 

But, get this, before the Saints took to stage the gates of hell were pried open by Alice Cooper. Yeah, an abridged Alice, but the Alice Cooper. Giant Alice-curtain eyes loomed at the ready and, finally, a sprinkle of piano (the intro to ‘Steven’- my personal favourite) signalled devil to altar. Oh, boy, it’s Alice freakin’ Cooper! And what a treat of expert showmanship. There are few frontman of his vintage who hit the mark with such a sense of duty (Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger soldier on with this work ethos) and Alice is the leader of the pack. As my friend simply put it, ‘he’s a pro’. Yep. And you see every minute of a man in the moment. When he draws a sword, it’s not with a lacklustre sense of ‘oh, now it’s the sword thing’. Nope,  it’s a first time affair with room to move.  Once, yes, his brand of ‘shock’ may have caused parental concern (lock up your daughters and avert your eyes) and, sure, it’s tame compared to other stage blood on offer… but that’s where it’s at. It’s pure Rocky/Hammer Horror-ish fun with a hard mix of rock. Top honours go to the obvious: ‘Poison’, ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ and ‘School’s Out’ (with a nice nod to Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall Part 2’). See ya next time, Alice… and Nurse Rozetta.

Flash forward and it’s onto Motley Crue. So long, farewell… Yeah, the Saints of Los Angeles got off to a good start with just that. What followed was the song I had come to hear – ‘Wild Side’. Crazy to peak so early, huh? It’s that metal clang that gets me everytime (please feel free to correct me if it’s glass or some form of material I’m not familiar with). And so they rolled with a mix of pyrotechnics, confetti and audience warming fireballs. But let’s stop for a minute and talk about the breathing space for Vince, Nikki and Mars… you know, let’s talk Tommy Lee. Let’s talk the Cruceify. He’d been pretty quiet and, visually, just a silhouette up until his moment. We’re talking a slow rollercoaster ride (kit and all) up and over the audience. Ten minutes of Tommy as he played to some backing tracks with some fist pumping banter thrown in for good measure. It was incredible to watch, a showstopper that showed just how far he was willing to go to better some spinning of the past. But here’s the deal… it’s your final tour, dude! Change the station on the backing tracks. Sure, music is a flower of feeling and all that jazz and it’s a nice digression from the sound that is… but, honestly, that’s the sound we wanna hear! We don’t need a musical respite from Crueness! Why not a medley of Crue tracks and the Cruceify converted into some crazy time machine, the years lighting up during flight from 1981 onwards. Tommy, you can have that idea for free! Use, revise and tour again! Trust me, it’ll work.

Down to brass tacks… they delivered as they should (god damnit!) . ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’, ‘Dr. Feelgood’ and an incredibly faithful (restraint, I reckon, for Crue) cover of Anarchy in the U.K. (as U.S.A.) were the highlights of the night. Mars had some fun on the intro to the inevitable (there’s no escaping had they not played this) ‘Kickstart My Heart’ and then that was it. The final tour for Motley Crue.  I loved it… I’m sure I did. It was Crue! I wasn’t buzzing… I wanted that buzz of the musical kind. That sense of awe. Final tour! Last chance!  

Alice stole the show. He did what Aerosmith did to Van Halen back in 2013 at Stonefest. Although, that’s pretty harsh as David Lee Roth was completely off his game and Motley Crue never missed a beat (Vince’s voice was pretty damn strong if a little held back at times). Alice entertained and engaged. Motley Crue entertained. But baby, we’ll always have Carnival of Sins (a full tilt, ahem, last tour).

Written by D. L. Bugeja