March 12, 2005
BY JEFF VRABEL Staff Reporter
Time waits for no one, but it seems to pick up extra steam when careening past 1980s glam-metal bands.
It's almost hard to remember an age in which Motley Crue, the uncomfortably Spandexed quartet who helped define hair metal in albums such as "Theater of Pain" and "Shout at the Devil," vaguely satanic symbology notwithstanding, really could have been considered dangerous. Yeah, their well-documented love of the rock 'n' roll lifestyle remains legendary, but their music wasn't much more than kitschy, catchy pop-metal with good choruses and better videos.
Now, on their eighth or ninth comeback, Motley Crue looks and sounds less edgy than ever -- the most shocking thing they've done in years is drop an F-bomb on Leno -- and particularly so when they close their two-hour-plus dark carnival/Thunderdome-themed show with covers of "Helter Skelter" and "Anarchy in the U.K.," two songs that, with good cause, did scare the hell out of people once. In the well-worn hands of the Crue, they're just two more choogling fist-pumpers.
But then again, you find me one time when the Beatles ever brought a midget spitting fire onstage ...
None of this is to say that the Crue cavalcade, a two-hour hitfest that unfolded in mostly chronological order, was a lousy show; in fact, if you were in the fired-up and sold-out house at the Allstate Arena on Thursday night, you most certainly did not go away mad. Opening with the early '80s triple shot of "Shout at the Devil," "Too Fast for Love" and "Ten Seconds to Love," and including nothing from about the last 14 years (save for two lame new tracks), the Crue conjured a fiery and frothy take on their L.A. heyday that careened through their first years ("Too Young to Fall in Love," "Live Wire"), took a 10-minute break, then returned for the post-"Dr. Feelgood" era, all punctuated appropriately with strippers and fire. And though it marks a strange day in the advancing history of rock that there's something called the "post-'Dr. Feelgood' era," the tracks from the late '80s and early '90s, such as "Primal Scream," "Feelgood" and "Same Ol' Situation," sounded positively evolved, even groovy, next to the glammy first set.
It was all just fine, which is the catch with these midlevel reunion tours. They won't do anything truly surprising -- save maybe for Tommy Lee's industrial-tinged drum solo, which found the shirtless, Kabuki-makeup-wearing amateur-video superstar flying between kits hoisted above the stage -- but they don't suck, either. Vince Neil's voice is running on fumes, but Lee remains a hard-pounding drummer with oft-forgotten skills, and the ghastly looking Mick Mars hasn't lost a step on his fire-fingered guitar (especially on "Red Hot" and "Looks That Kill"). Nikki Sixx is more hype man than bassist, but at least he looked the part in his tattered Reznorian getup.
Writing too much about a Crue show is sort of like doing graduate work on "Three Amigos"; you don't sweat it, you just rock out and relive. And in 2005, that's plenty enough for the Crue. Separately, they're C-level TV reality stars, but together, they're a nostalgic force that still gets arenas full of lighters waving. In that sense, at least, it's still the same ol' situation.