By Steve Newton
A quarter-century ago today—on June 9, 1990—Motley Crue played the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.
That was the exact same night Janet Jackson played B.C. Place Stadium.
I chose the lesser of two evils—or so I thought at the time.
Back then the Crue was at the very peak of its success, touring behind its most popular album ever, the Vancouver-made Dr. Feelgood.
Here’s my review, published under the headline: “Second-rate band delivers a first-rate circus of a show”.
As far as musical integrity and depth go, Motley Crue is not in the same hard-rock league as bands like Aerosmith, Van Halen, or Scorpions. But when it comes to putting on a rowdy, consistently exciting show, these four L.A dudes do have what it takes.
The proceedings kicked off with a 3-D laser effect and taped intro—a dastardly voice inciting the already-hyped crowd with a spiel about the “Theatre of Pain”—before two fiery explosions gave drummer Tommy Lee the cue to start slamming out “Kickstart My Heart”. The lights went up on stage, and Lee was there thrashing his kit, but where were the rest of the guys?
Seconds later another round of sonic booms signalled the arrival of Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, and Mick Mars, who sprang up like leather-clad trap-door spiders from underneath the stage. The show was on, and the sea of sardine-packed bodies covering the floor started punching the air.
Motley Crue’s two strongest assets—Neil’s punkish vocals and Lee’s pulverizing drumwork—were in good form throughout the show, and though the band lacks a large stable of great rock tunes (“Kickstart”, “Live Wire”, and “Looks That Kill” being the odd exceptions), its bravado and energy are hard to match.
And it does have some neat gimmicks. For Lee’s extended solo, he sailed over the heads of the floor crowd on a drum-kit attached to a long track, all the while pounding along to canned versions of rock classics like “Frankenstein”, “Rocky Mountain Way”, and “Rock and Roll Hoochie Coo”.
The biggest ovation came when he jammed with AC/DC‘s “Back in Black”, so it seemed only appropriate that he should slip down his skimpy shorts and give the crowd an Angus Young-style moon.
The devotion of the Crue’s mostly male teenage fans was evident from the racket they made—and the way they were plunking down dollars for $25-a-crack t-shirts. After the encore of “Dr. Feelgood”—the title track from the album the band made here with producer Bob Rock—Nikki Sixx demolished his bass guitar by smashing it repeatedly on the stage floor. Then he reached down into the crowd, pulled one dazzled kid up, and presented him with the remains.
What a clever way to win a fan-for-life and get rid of the garbage at the same time!