Venue: Rod Laver Arena
Motley Crue’s The Dirt is one of the most notorious reads in the entire genre of rock biographies, which lead to the LA glam/metal band to be crowned undisputed kings of excess and bad behavior. No surprise then that their live show is equally excessive and totally over-the-top in a way that suits the band’s image, yet at the sacrifice of its ability to perform. This current tour is in celebration of 30 years of sex, drugs, arrests, messed up shit… oh and some rock n’ roll as well for good measure. The tour also boasts that fans are getting Motley Crue’s original line-up of Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Tommy Lee and Vince Neil - as if anybody could name the band member’s occasional replacements in the ‘down-time’, or early ‘90s to mid-00’s hit-free period – but then it is a testament to the ‘Crue that any of them are still talking considering the brutal in-band bitching that’s become as famous as their unhealthy lifestyles.
But Motley Crue are all now in their 50s, and have surely grown into well balanced men with a wealth of experience and know-how, right? Nah, who am I kidding!? The young bushy haired men who proudly sang about Smokin’ In The Boys Room and Girls, Girls, Girls refused to die, if the twenty-foot high expressions on Motley Crue’s craggily faces, peering down at us from the live-feed projection screens are anything to go by. Alas though the band’s aggression and prowess, much like their long-gone youth cannot be sustained for very long following the tremendous first rush of Too Fast For Love.
Despite the 30 years of ‘Crue action, its hard to ignore the feeling that Vince, Nikki and Mick don’t seem particularly comfortable with one another as they shift around the stage swapping mics so that fans can get a good look at each member. In particular, Vince’s attempt to finger Nikki’s bass strings mid-song results in a quick and very awkward retreat by Sixx, who gets a pretty stern glower in return. Meanwhile guitarist Mick Mars, with his frozen expression, begrudgingly joins the other two on a narrow raised platform in a woeful attempt to show solidarity that fails to translate as anything other than forced. The show is only three songs in, and already the seams are unraveling, so what a better way to distract from this fact than by wheeling out a huge mirror-balled grand piano that even Elton John would consider ‘a bit camp’ and getting drummer Tommy Lee to play it under a cool blue spotlight.
|Tommy always had the 'extra spicy' curry before a performance.|
Next up, its stage two of Tommy Lee’s attempt to steal the show with an even more pointless display than his piano fiasco with the mother of all Spinal Tap moments; his kit, which has been mounted at the base of a circular vertical roller-coaster track, begins to edge up and around as he plays the most obviously not-live drum solo of all-time. Lee’s strapped in to his stool, so you know he’s gonna go the full 360 degrees, he does, and the effect is sickening, but not particularly ‘sick’. For about 10 minutes, Lee, after hauling a completely non-plussed fan up to join the ride, continues his rotating drum solo, aided by bursts of flame and showering sparks, but by now my mind is just wandering to things like ‘what happened to the rest of the band’ and ‘the level of insurance they would have to pay incase the ‘lucky’ audience member slips out of the restraints must be astronomical’.
Finally the rest of the band return, and we are in the home stretch of Motely Crue’s 30th anniversary concert, which so far has been every kind of absurd, but served up without a shred of irony. Not much so far has happened to cause any offense or ruffle feathers, but despite the long break off stage, Vince Neil appears to have given just about all he’s got and so he puffs his way through Dr Feelgood, forgetting half the lyrics and walking where he previously would run. The performance only continues to become more and more shambolic after this, and no amount of fire balls, smoke jets, sparks, cannons or revolving drum kits can hide the fact. Nikki Sixx barks into the mic to rouse up the audience as the show concludes – again with no sense of irony - “When we first got together, we knew we needed a singer like Steven Tyler, Robert Plant and Bon Scott… and with Vince Neil, we got all three!”
Even Vince wasn’t entirely convinced of Sixx’s comparison, but in a final act of forced unity, the band embrace and hold one-another’s arms aloft, and remind us how much better we were as an audience than… insert any capital city that isn’t Melbourne. But by then it was all too late for Motley Crue’s fans here at Rod Laver. I’m going out on a big general limb here, but if Australian audiences can be summarised at all, I think it’s safe to say, you just can’t bullshit us. Motley wanted to be loved so badly that they were literally turning on their heads to impress us, but in reality a few more weeks in rehearsals would’ve sufficed. The biggest shocker of all though is, who would have guessed the most notorious hard living, hard drinking, hard shagging band this side of the Rolling Stones damn well fake it?