Review/photos by John Jeffrey
Darien, NY - If I had to pick one word in the dictionary to sum up the career of Motley Crue, the word I would pick is "excess." In their formative years, it was the 'excess' makeup, hair, platform boots and volume that skyrocketed Motley Crue to become perhaps, the biggest rock band in the 1980's. At the same time, 'excess' is what also caused the members of Motley Crue to lose almost everything they gained, including their sobriety, wives, almost their lives, and even the death of their friend, Razzle Dingley (Hanoi Rocks). "All Bad Things Must Come to an End" (the subtitle to what they are calling "The Final Tour"), is a very fitting description to the show they brought to the Darien PAC on the final night of the first leg of their Farewell
While I never thought Motley Crue was a horrible live band, I never considered them to be a great one either. Over the years, they figured out ways to take the emphasis away from their musical short comings by beefing up their 'show,' with the use of elaborate stage designs, pyrotechnics, pre-recorded backing vocals and music, and semi-nude background singers and strippers. The one thing I have to give to these guys is they always know how to put on a fun concert.
Aside from some technical sound issues, Sunday night's show started out strong with a great one-two punch, as the Crue played "Saints of Los Angeles" and "Wild Side" back to back. As the show progressed, you could really tell the band was doing their best to bring their 'A game,' as they seemed intent on showing that they could still bring it, Motley style. While Youtube videos and reviews of the tour early on were really painting a picture of a severely disjointed and unrehearsed band, all cylinders seemed to be firing on this night. Even front man Vince Neil, who is notorious for giving a lazy delivery when singing the vocals, seemed to be singing more of the lyrics than he usually does. As far as the set list goes, while it was definitely on the predictable side, I think they did the best they could by playing all of their biggest hits and throwing in a few newer songs and deep cuts for the diehard fans. The only song I felt they could've done without is "Anarchy in the U.K." Considering it's a cover song and they're already doing a cover of "Smokin' in the Boys Room," with this being their last tour and all, you think they could've picked a better song in place of "Anarchy."
Aside from the Sex Pistols cover, I have to say my biggest disappoint about this show was the stage itself. Considering Motley is known for having some of the sickest stages in rock and roll (especially on the "Carnival of Sins" and Cruefest tours), you'd think they would go all out for their final go around. Honestly, the stage seemed just like a rehash of the stage they had on "The Tour" with KISS. While there was tons of smoke, explosions and fire, there didn't seem to be any rhyme nor reason to when they were being used. You kind of got the impression that there was some crazy pyro guy offstage, randomly setting things off for his own enjoyment. The other downside was the absence of drummer Tommy Lee's mini roller-coaster drum riser, which he would normally use during his drum solo and also at the end to transport himself to the second (mini) stage (located near the soundboard) for the finale of "Home Sweet Home." Apparently, somebody didn't have the foresight to realize that a miniature amusement park ride wouldn't fit in several of the amphitheaters they selected to perform at throughout their summer tour.
For any of the negatives there might have been about Motley's set, not enough positive things can be said about the opening performance put on by the legendary master of Shock Rock - Alice Cooper. The Coop played a near perfect set of 13 classic tracks, and even as an opener, it felt like a full production Alice show. After a few years of trying to get the chemistry right within his guitar 'team,' it seems Alice has struck gold with the addition of new guitarist Nita Strauss. Not only is she a great player, but her showmanship is major step up from the statuesque (B)Orinanthi. Knowing her role, the pecking order in the guitar department finally feels right, with veteran Cooper guitarist Ryan Roxie back at the #1 lead guitar slot again.
Another welcomed change in the cast of characters in the 'Alice show' is the return of Alice's wife Sheryl Cooper. Sheryl's reprisal of the role of Nurse Rozetta really added a lot of authenticity to the performance, especially during her interaction with Alice during "The Ballad of Dwight Fry."
Ending his set with "School's Out," while the song traditionally brings to mind the beginning of summer, it actually made me realize that it was signifying not only the end of the summer, but the end of this leg of the Motley/Alice tour, and also marking the last time Motley Crue will ever grace the stage of Darien Lake again. 'All Bad Things Must End' indeed.
Check out our exclusive interview with Alice Cooper guitarist - Nita Strauss here.
Special thank you to Ryan Roxie.