By Steve Newton
Mötley Crüe performed its final show in Vancouver last night (November 21).
Before embarking on its current tour the L.A. sleaze-rock kings got some lawyers to write up a contract wherein they declared that they would never go on the road again after this. That allowed them to charge an exorbitant amount of money for tickets to their “final tour”, and their devoted fans–like the ones who packed Rogers Arena last night–have been happily shelling out for the chance to bid their heroes a last goodbye.
To Mötley Crüe’s credit, the quartet–singer Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars, bassist Nikki Sixx, and drummer Tommy Lee–have been going out in a blaze of glory. Their two-hour show takes place on a huge, hulking stage, and features an array of special effects, including shooting flames, cascading sparks, and an upside-down drumkit on a rollercoaster-type track.
The thing is, they need all that eye-catching stuff to avoid being overshadowed by the sheer awesomeness of their “special guest”, shock-rock legend Alice Cooper.
During his 13-song warmup set, Cooper pulled out all the tricks of his trade. He wrapped himself in a huge snake for “Welcome to My Nightmare”, he shook phony bills from the tip of his rapier on “Billion Dollar Babies”, he lost his head in the guillotine during a snippet of “Killer”. But even his trusty theatrics took a backseat to his best songs, deathless ’70s riff-rock gems like “Eighteen” and “Under My Wheels”, and the haunting “Ballad of Dwight Fry”.
It was kind of shocking–and a bit sad–that the crowd didn’t show much enthusiasm until Cooper performed his so-so 1989 single, “Poison”. But they were there to hear the hits of the ’80s, after all.
Mötley Crüe served up its share of radio staples from the hair-metal heyday, including raging rockers like “Looks That Kill” and “Kickstart My Heart”, and their famously watered-down version of Brownsville Station’s “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room”.
At one point Sixx ordered everyone in the hockey rink to sit down while he told the story of how the group came together and rose from the scuzzy bars of the Sunset Strip to become whatever the hell they are today. “This is not farewell,” he proclaimed, “because our music is gonna haunt you till the day you die!”
Then he went on to illustrate how lasting Motley Crue’s legacy will be by using his bass as a flamethrower to shoot out massive blasts of fire while two hottie backup-singers/stripper-types gyrated along. The Crue’s eternal importance to the music world was further driven home when Lee’s drumkit got carried along that rollercoaster-like track and turned upside-down while he raved like a schoolboy about how fucking incredible that was.
The crowd loved it.
For its encore the band set up shop on a small stage where the rollercoaster track ended, and Lee banged on a piano to lead his mates into “Home Sweet Home”. When that tiresome ballad had run its course it was all over. Tragic as it might seem, Motley Crue would never perform in Vancouver again. (Not legally, anyway.)
But that’s okay, because Alice Cooper still might.