March 6, 1990
“WE GOT a f**king loud bunch of motherf**kers here tonight,” bleach blond Hollywood nightclub proprietor-cum-rock star Taime Downe yells across the vast expanse of this 16,000 seat mid-western arena.
There you basically have Faster Pussycat’s stage show. A guy who could well be your local garbage man squeezed into embarrassingly tight black spandex, a couple of scarves and make-up that do little to disguise his over-eagerness, saying f**k into a microphone and taking a step back to bask in the response. That and ‘Where There’s A Whip There’s A Way” and the teeny-cuteness level of ‘House Of Pain’.
Aside from that, the most poignant, relevant and symbolic Faster Pussycat song is ‘Don’t Change That Song’. They don’t. The whole 45 minute set sounds like a whining groan.
But this crowd, whose parents are probably already waiting In the foyer, are impressed by the word f**k. Every time Motley’s Vince Neil says the magic word, the kids throw their fists in the air and cheer.
Motley Crue are a Pop Metal band with a yearning for immortality. That still means catwalks and pyro and lasers, but no make-up, leather, T-shirts and dark colours on their mammoth stage set.
A demonic face appears on a suspended screen hanging over roughly the 15th row and mumbles something about ‘Shout At The Devil’, then ‘Theatre Of Pain’, ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ and ‘Dr Feelgood’.
The Nasty Habits’ ample silhouettes appear on top of the catwalks, the lights go up. Tommy Lee is visible behind his drumkit and Neil, Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars are fired upwards by hydraulic lifts from under the stage. Neil snaps his fingers downwards as ‘Kickstart My Heart’, a Motley classic, revs up. He runs from side to side, puts his hands up in the air and the horde cheers.
I love arena rock. I love the euphoria and escapism. Intimacy is for intimate music. Motley Crue’s music is tailor-made for arenas. Even the primitive ‘Live Wire’ runs on seamlessly from the band’s more slickly- produced recent material.
Party song after party song whistles past you as the Crüe roll out the bubblegum faves. ‘Sticky Sweet’, ‘Smokin’ In The Boys Room’, ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’… Neil tells everyone how much he lurves Minneapolis. Sixx leans back and glares, Lee sticks his elbows out as wide as possible and smiles amidst the mayhem he creates. Meanwhile Mick Mars is just in the corner playing guitar and making it all sound like music. That’s all.
Mars plays a very competent bluesy solo, his guitar collection suspended horizontally on a rack in front of him. Soon after, Lee’s kit quivers and is lifted clear to the ceiling while he begins playing to sample tapes of the likes of AC/DC and Cream. The kit floats out on into the audience and lowers frighteningly close to their collective heads.
Lee, wearing a studded G-string and absolutely nothing else, puts one hand on a pole and leans out over the audience. He looks genuinely in awe of his situation, oblivious to the tact he does this every night.
“LOOK HOW CLOSE I AM TO YOU F** KERS, MAN!” he cries.
He straps himself back in and keeps drumming.
This is supposedly ‘the greatest rock ‘n’ roll show that’s ever been seen’. It Is indeed impressive. But the highlight for me is in the encore, that definitive hymn of decadence, ‘Wild Side’. ‘Namedropping no-names, glamorize cocaine, puppets with strings of gold.’ Neil is singing it, looking straight out into the darkness, not looking down at the front row. Motley Crue are no longer on the Wild Side, they no longer glamorize cocaine… and whether or not they are puppets with strings of gold is open to interpretation. Neil is singing a stirring song, the pyro is ready, the staging is perfect, I love the music.
So why am I not moved? Why does Neil not even seem to be in the same country as me? Why do I think listening to the Crue on my Walkman would be more enjoyable?
Perhaps because it’s all too much for my finite senses.
Perhaps because I sense that, underneath everything, there isn’t very much at all.
Filed for: KERRANG!