Sunset Strip Music Festival
Bleached blondes pumping devil horns from atop their drunk boyfriend's shoulders took in the pyrotechnics and shamelessly indulgent drum and guitar solos, and held up their (real) lighters during the obligatory power ballads...Yes indeed, Motley Crue's headlining main-stage set Saturday at the Sunset Strip Music Fest had all of the old school hair metal show musts.
But while their stage extravaganza oozed with nostalgia -- they were celebrating 30 years together, after all -- it felt neither Spinal Tap-shlocky nor over-ripe. The Crue's brand of hook-heavy hard rock and their studs and leather-adorned style may not be what's hip at the moment. But like their pals Ozzy Osbourne and Slash (who were honored by SSMF the past two years), Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee have also come to transcend what's trendy.
Motley Crue were honored at the House of Blues on Thursday, which was also declared "Motley Crue Day" in West Hollywood. Ray Manzarek, The Dirt author Neil Strauss, The New York Dolls' David Johansen and comic Dane Cook said a few words, mostly about the band's antics, naturally. Few bands in the history of rock have so zealously and naturally embodied the credo (however cliché) of sex, drugs and rock n' roll as the Crue. Strauss said it best: "They just didn't give a fuck."
Speaking of the F word, Cook's roasting of the band fell embarrassing flat Thursday. He went after the easy target, Mars, and got booed. We will say his Tommy Lee comments were funny, though. "He's the only guy in the world who fucks as often as he uses the word fuck," he said, and the more age-appropriate song titles he came up with weren't bad either: "Home Sweet Nursing Home," "MILFS, MILFs, MILFs."
In any case, the actual versions of "Home Sweet Home" and "Girls, Girls, Girls" highlighted the Crue's set Saturday, particularly the former, in which Lee came down from his drum set to take the piano, also paying homage to the street where he's "stumbled" and "threw up" many times.
We give extra props to Neil, whose vocals were downright beautiful on "Home Sweet Home," and who easily hit the higher notes on other classics, like "Livewire" and "Shout At The Devil." We've always considered Neil a better frontman than singer, but after Saturday we might reconsider. Whether it's due to his sobriety after some recent alcohol-related troubles we're not sure, but his vox were shockingly potent and quite impressive on pretty much every number.
Though there may have been too many latter-era Crue cuts for our taste (we're a pre-Theatre of Pain fan mainly and the title track to Too Fast For Love was a glaring omission for us), we were quite entertained. Mostly. We should note that during the opener "Wild Side," things got a little too wild, and we nearly got smashed to death trying to get closer to the stage. The area in front of it was narrower than past years, with gates blocking off the side streets (such as Weatherly Drive in between the Key Club and Bank of America) where people used to be able to spill out into. Bad idea, especially since there was an estimated 17,000 people in attendance.
A kindly hesher dude pulled us over the gate and into a blocked-off area in front of Key Club, where we enjoyed the remainder of the show. And it was almost worth the trampling scare: a giant circular screen showing images behind the band, plentiful pyro punctuating every chanted chorus, and Mars' solo. Oh, and there was Lee's Revolution-like rollercoaster ride on the drum kit, on which he surprised the crowd with a special guest: dance fave Deadmaus, who's got four consecutive nights headlining at the Palladium this week starting this Thursday. (Lee and DJ Aero open).
Not to be outdone by Osbourne two years ago -- who's climax was white liquid spewing from a giant water gun -- the band went for broke ending their set by sending out gallons of red fluid onto the crowd. A bloody good time was had by all, and thankfully we didn't see any real blood shed.
Set list below.
Saints of Los Angeles
Shout at the Devil '97
Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)
Home Sweet Home
* Drum Solo
("Rollercoaster of Love"- Tommy drummed to a recorded version during circular kit ride)
* Guitar Solo
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Girls, Girls, Girls
Smokin' In The Boys Room (meshed with Gary Glitter's "Rock n' Roll- Part 2)
Kickstart My Heart