Saturday, August 9, 2014

Concert Review: Motley Crue with opener Alice Cooper 8/8/2014

Last night a loud, bright, and flashy rock n' roll spectacle appeared in Tinley Park, IL at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheater. To be fair however, that is putting what happened lightly. The perpetrators of this awesomeness were none other than world renowned bands Alice Cooper and headliner Motley Crue. Currently Motley Crue is embarked on what they are calling The Final Tour. Recently they signed a legal document where if they perform live again after the end of this current tour they will be sued something HUGE. Fortunately however, that does NOT mean they cannot make new music.

The Chicago stop on this tour got started nearly 45 minutes late because so many people just kept filing and filing into the outdoor theater. There was not an empty seat in the place and the lawn was crowded beyond belief. Part way through the show, singer Vince Neil announced that there were a total of 28,000 people at the show. It was a bit insane.

However, when the show did start the spectacles began right away. Alice Cooper and his band took the stage by force, surprisingly opening with an older song, Hello Hooray. Cooper went through many of his well known classics like No More Mr. Nice Guy, School's Out, I'm Eighteen, and of course his popular 80's hit Poison. His stage show was pretty much what you would expect at an Alice Cooper show. A lot of the key elements and features were there, but it was no less fun to watch. He of course had the giant Frankenstein monster walking around the stage during Feed My Frankenstein, threw fake money into the crowd during Billion Dollar Babies, had a flashy hat and popped balloons during School's Out, and of course had his head chopped off by a guillotine near the end of the show.

It was nice to see Alice make space for some of his especially older songs in such a short set. I was pleasantly surprised to hear his band do my personal favorite Alice Cooper tune Under My Wheels. I will says this, even though they are pretty much hired guns the Alice Cooper band definitely has stage chemistry and they showed it quite frequently throughout the performance. Joining them this time around was a new lead guitarist Nita Strauss, formerly of The Iron Maidens, an all female Iron Maiden tribute band. She definitely had some wicked fast guitar chops and got the chance to showcase them time and time again. Overall I was quite impressed with what I both saw and heard. Alice's voice was in top form and there was never a dull moment in terms of visuals.

After Alice Cooper played for about an hour however, it was time for the main event of the evening to begin. At around 9 pm the song So Long, Farewell came on over the loud speakers. Everyone stood up and cheered where Motley Crue then took the stage and wasted no time by blasting right into Saints of Los Angeles, the title track from their most recent album put out back in 2008. The show consisted mainly of widely radio played songs from the Crue but they made sure to include a few gems from their first album that only hardcore fans of the band would know such as On With the Show, Too Fast For Love,  and Live Wire. Of course songs from Dr. Feelgood like S.O.S., Kickstart My Heart, Without You, Dr. Feelgood, and Don't Go Away Mad.

The stage show for itself was absolutely unbelievable. I will do my best to describe it with words, but really it's something you have to see for yourself to fully comprehend. There was this HUGE upside down pentagram hanging from the rafters of the stage. It was filled with all kinds of lights that got used in different ways throughout the show. Secondly, there were platforms on the sides of the stage that a performer could walk onto and it could be raised and lowered at whatever time. The backdrop of the stage was fairly elaborate. It looked almost like a building in some respects. There were windows where the back-up dancers/singers could go behind where the crowd could see their silhouettes as they danced.

Let's talk visual effects. Pyrotechnics up the wazoo. They had fireworks set in time to many of the songs, but it was cool when Crue would be wrapping up a song and each time they would hit a chord a blast would go off in time with it. The visual arrangements of the fireworks were also really well done. A firework would go off on the left, then another on the right, then another big blast in the middle. The best of the pyrotechnics however was Nikki Sixx's flamethrower. He had the nozzle hooked to the bottom of his bass and would just fire it at will at a few points throughout the show. It was FANTASTIC. The inner trouble maker in me squealed with delight at the sight of such massive fire.

One of the major climaxes of the show however was the drum solo. Not because of Tommy Lee's drumming chops (though they were pretty excellent), but because of what happened during the solo. Tommy's drum set as well as Tommy himself tightly strapped down to a platform that turned Tommy upside down and back up again. This platform was set on a roller coaster track that went out into the audience. While Tommy is risking his life like this he is just throwing himself at his drum kit in time to a few different electronic hip hop sounding songs. I was honestly a little concerned for his safety, but not too much because I was sure that they had gone through many safety precautions and tests beforehand.

The performers were on top of their game. As I said earlier, Vince sounded great especially considering his age. He definitely no longer looked like the Adonis he once was but that didn't particularly matter. He gave 110% and that is all that counts. Mick Mars's age definitely was showing as he was stationary a lot of the time, but that didn't stop him from tearing up every last riff and solo like a boss. He looked like a ghoul or skeleton, but he actually made that work to his advantage. His guitar solo was a bit unusual, but I liked it. There was a little bit of shredding, but most of it was him making as many creative sounds with a guitar as he could for a few minutes. I was quite impressed to be honest.

Tommy was definitely the most energetic of the bunch. You would never guess he is 51 because he could beat the hell out of his drums and when not on the kit jumped around and shouted out to the audience as though he were still a teenager. Nikki was all dolled up like it was still 1987. He really did. He looked good for his age and threw himself into everything he did. Plus, whenever he got on the mic to talk to the audience he was very charismatic.

Even though the stage show was one of the primary aspects, the band itself sounded really tight and well rehearsed. No one missed a single note and the music was able to back up every last bit of visual flamboyancy. They were able to walk the walk in addition to talking the talk. There honestly are not a whole lot of bands left that can do that. Personally, I'm surprised they did as much of their first album as they did. Even throwing in Too Young to Fall in Love from the second was a nice surprise. The only song they didn't play that I REALLY wanted to hear was Public Enemy #1. I didn't have high hopes for it, but it is my favorite Motley Crue song so I had to hope a little.

During the show a couple of other interesting things happened. At one point Nikki took the mic and told all 28,000 of us to sit down, which we did. From there he told us the abridged version of the story of how Motley Crue began back in 1981. The way he told it was filled with so much enthusiasm and attitude that I could not help but be hooked on his every word. Unfortunately some a**hole sitting next to me at one point shouted, "Shut the f*** up and play some f***ing music!" after which he and a couple people sitting next to him laughed. I wanted to say something, but I figured it wasn't worth it.

The coolest thing was the encore. The band performed Home Sweet Home, but did so on a raised platform in the middle of the crowd. I along with several other people who had gotten cheap seats rushed up to it without a moment's hesitation to get up close and personal with the Crue. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life to be that close to the band, especially Nikki considering he is a hero of mine. I was able to look each of them in the eye while they played. That is an experience that no matter how old I get I will never forget and take to my grave with me.

I am honestly so thankful that I got the chance to be a part of history. I got to attend Motley Crue's very last Chicago performance. I heard almost every song I wanted to hear and got to see way more than I had anticipated. They had everything from fire, to sexy backing dancers/singers, to lights, to other spectacles all while playing some real rock n' roll. Motley Crue definitely put their hearts into this performance. It was definitely an appropriate way for them to say goodbye. I would expect nothing less from such a band than to go out with a bang.

Motley Crue and Alice Cooper both receive 5 out of 5 stars.

Alice Cooper setlist Tinley Park 8/8/2014:

Hello Hooray (Judy Collins cover)
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
I'm Eighteen
Billion Dollar Babies
Dirty Diamonds
Welcome to My Nightmare
Feed My Frankenstein
Ballad of Dwight Fry
Killer (partial)
I Love the Dead (excerpt)
School's Out

Motley Crue setlist Tinley Park 8/8/2014:

Saints of Los Angeles
Wild Side
Primal Scream
Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)
Looks That Kill
On With the Show
Too Fast for Love
Smokin' in the Boys' Room (Brownsville Station cover) (With "Rock and Roll (Part 2)
Without You
Mutherfucker of the Year
Anarchy in the U.K. (Sex Pistols cover)
T.N.T. (Terror 'N Tinseltown)
Dr. Feelgood
In the Beginning /Shout at the Devil
Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Drum Solo
Guitar Solo
Live Wire
Too Young to Fall in Love
Girls, Girls, Girls
Kickstart My Heart

Home Sweet Home

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