Motley Crue make Comcast uncomfortable

A review of Crue Fest at the Comcast Center on August 22, 2008

, Staff Writer

I don’t know what else I expected from "the world’s most notorious rock band." I guess I should have been ready for the raunch and utter obscenity of Crue Fest’s headliners, but is there any way to actually prepare for the set-opening silhouette of an angel-stripper felating a devil?

Motley Crue’s set was wholly indecent morally and only slightly decent musically, making for an uncomfortable combination that still managed to excite the throng of dedicated fans. From opener "Kickstart My Heart" on the crowd was kicking ass even if the Crue weren’t. What the band lacked in punch they made up for in volume, and the impressive amount of pyro during the first song nearly rendered Tommy Lee’s drumming superfluous.

"Wild Side" was up next, the song’s vaguely anti-religion lyrics failing to make a coherent point when combined with the video displays of upside down crucifixes and images of the Sacred Heart , thus rendering the whole situation unnecessarily offensive. "Shout at the Devil" was delivered much more strongly, and the pictures of George Bush accompanying the words actually made sense.

The band proved that although they are certainly not washed up, their better days are definitely behind them as they kicked into "Saints of Los Angeles", which sounded a lot like a slowed down "Stone Cold Crazy" or a manipulation of POD’s "Youth of the Nation". The bright point of the song was when the lead singers of all the other Crue Fest bands came out for a couple of turns at the chorus, creating a party-closer atmosphere.

Guitarist Mick Mars drew the first solo of the night and provided a ferociously beautiful deconstruction of the guitar, serving up a combination of tapping, whammy bar action, and distortion that touched on Hendrix’s "Voodoo Chile" and sounded a bit like a car crash. That led into the full out assault of "Live Wire" and its strobe light climax. "Sick Love Song" featured an impressive guitar solo but a depressing bondage video.

The low point of the night came during Tommy Lee’s solo section, which ended up with the drummer handing the crowd a bottle of Jaeger, dropping between 75 and 80 F-bombs, and grabbing his "Titty Cam" to allow a dozen or so classy fans to expose themselves on the big screens. The follow-up song, "Motherfucker of the Year", sounded like a second-rate Monster Magnet rip-off, but the fans continued to eat everything up.

The angel stripper returned to the stage to bring lead singer Vince Neil an acoustic guitar (and to make out with him for awhile), but the acoustic soon became drowned out by Mars’ electric for a version of "Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)" that hinted at power-ballad but was way more fist-pumping. Neil picked up an electric and made himself heard on "Same Old Situation", again featuring an incoherant video that alternately depicted girl-girl porn, terrorists, the OJ police chase, President Bush, and more porn to the point that it was unbelievable that the venue allowed it.

After a directionless ramble from Nikki Sixx the band started off "Primal Scream" a bit sloppy but settled in quickly, and the song provided the perfect landscape for Mars’ industrial guitar crunch. Neil hit an obscene high note at the end of the song, capping off the band’s best performance of the night. Next came the chugging riffs and syncopated chorus of "Looks That Kill", a challenging crowd pleaser that saw the band hitting their stride.

A gritty, down and dirty version of "Girls, Girls, Girls" followed, and after Mars delivered another devastating solo the three band members not playing drums moved to the front of the stage for a huge rock ending propelled by Lee’s machine gun rolls. The stage set, "Los Angeles" spelled backwards in metal letters, burst with pyro flames like a Kurt Russell movie for show closer "Dr. Feelgood", which was taken over by the crowd for a sing along.

While Motley Crue weren’t bad, they weren’t all that good either. The show’s momentum was spoiled by frequent breaks apparently designed to give Mars chances to rest, thus preventing the band from gaining a full head of steam. Too many of the band’s antics that used to be shocking are now just pointless and offensive for the sake of being offensive. A challenge for the band would be to strip everything back down to just the music and see where that leaves them, but Friday night made it apparent that that is not what the fans want. What they do want is the objectification and exploitation of women and the insensitive manipulation of religious symbols wrapped up in nostalgic, halfway decent glam-metal. I’ll pass.

Buckcherry took to the stage before the Crue looking like they just walked off the set of Pirates of the Carribean 4. The band brought all of the ass-kicking of Aerosmith with none of the arthritis, especially during the sick stomp of "Too Drunk". It needs to be noted that guitarist Keith Nelson executed one of the most amazing pick throws of all time from his spot in front of the microphone into the waiting hands of his guitar tech who was offstage, a distance of at least 15 feet.

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