Thursday, 5 November 2015

Mötley Crüe - Manchester Review

As the tagline says: 'All Bad Things Must Come to an End'. After 34 years in the business, glam rockers and all round bad boys Mötley Crüe are calling it a day. Spearheading the hair metal movement of the 1980s, Mötley Crüe became one of the biggest bands of the genre and have really cemented their place in rock history. As Bowling for Soup said: 'When did Mötley Crüe become classic rock?'. Mötley Crüe are responsible for a lot of memorable anthems, but their controversial days are well and truly in the past. The band's history for drugs, women, and general debauchery is well documented; but they have now decided to retire gracefully. 'Retire gracefully' for Mötley Crüe however means a massive world tour, filling arenas around the world with raucous rock music and pyrotechnics. Throw in shock rock pioneer Alice Cooper into the mix too, and you get a seriously good night out. Due to prior commitments, the easiest UK show for me to make was in Manchester. I had not really been to Manchester properly before, so this was also an opportunity to visit somewhere new. The Manchester Arena has always been held in high regard, and I can see why. Despite being seated in the top tier of seating near the back of the venue, I still had a great view of the whole stage; and the sound throughout was excellent. While the two supports were on stage, the place filled up nicely, and by the time Mötley Crüe hit the stage the arena was full. This tour will most likely be the last opportunity for anyone to see the band perform live, so many were making the effort. I had seen the band once before, in Nottingham in 2011, and was quite disappointed with their performance. With that in mind, I had high hopes that this show would finally be the one to prove to me that Mötley Crüe are a great live act.

Before that however, I had to endure a short set from London rockers The One Hundred. I am not quite sure who was responsible for this pairing, but they were not really the best choice to support two legends of rock. Their synth driven alternative metal sound was very abrasive and did not seem to translate well to the big stage. This is music made for sweaty clubs full of drunk moshers. Their set was thankfully quite short, as it did not seem go down too well with the people around where I was sitting. I think people at the front took to them a bit more, but I was glad when they left the stage. They were really not my thing at all, but I will say that they are very good at what they do. An up and coming hard rock band would have been a better choice in my opinion.

Despite only seeing him last Thursday, I was excited to see Alice Cooper again. His show in Plymouth was excellent, and I was hoping for more of the same. His set was much shorter this time, obviously, but he still delivered the goods and put on a great performance. The first part of his set focused on his early hits, and the great tunes kept coming and coming. The opening riff to No More Mr. Nice Guy had the whole arena cheering, and the chanting during I'm Eighteen filled the arena. At times, it was easy to forget that Cooper was 'only' a support act. The crowd were into him as much as they were for Mötley Crüe later, and he had everyone eating from the palm of his hand. Mega hit Poison came mid way through the set, before Dirty Diamonds saw a great drum solo from Glen Sobel and guitar solos from Nita Strauss and Ryan Roxie. I thought that being a support act he might curb the theatrics a bit, but they were featured in full force. Feed my Frankenstein saw the huge Frankenstein's Monster puppet lumbering around the stage to cheers, and the medley built around oldie Ballad of Dwight Fry saw the guillotine wheeled out for an execution! Being in high seats, I could see all this much clear this time around, and it went down well with the crowd. His set came to an end with School's Out which saw the whole arena jumping as confetti-filled balloons were thrown into the crowd. Excellent stuff! The setlist was:

The Black Widow
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Under my Wheels
I'm Eighteen
Billion Dollar Babies
Dirty Diamonds
Go to Hell
Feed my Frankenstein
Ballad of Dwight Fry/Killer/I Love the Dead
School's Out/Another Brick in the Wall - Part 2 [Pink Floyd cover]

Mötley Crüe took the stage about 30 minutes after Alice Cooper left it, and proceeded to tear Manchester a new one for the duration of their set. Given the rather poor showing I saw in 2011, and the talk about frontman Vince Neil's voice seriously deteriorating, I was not sure quite what to expect despite having high hopes of finally seeing a great show from the band. Luckily, my expectations were beaten and Mötley Crüe put on an amazing show and proved that they intend to go out on a high. Of course, it was a greatest hits set, and each song that they played went down a storm with the crowd, including the couple of newer numbers thrown in. Girls, Girls, Girls was a great choice for the opening track, as it got the party mood going as soon as Mick Mars' (guitar/vocals) riff filled the speakers. Despite a few iffy moments throughout, Neil actually held out extremely well in my opinion. During some songs he even sounded close to his best! He did have two female backing singers to help him out during some songs, but I thought he acquitted himself very well. Early highlights were the foot-stomping Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.) and Looks That Kill which Neil really nailed. The sound was almost spot on throughout, giving plenty of space in the mix for Nikki Sixx's (bass guitar/vocals) driving basslines. A rousing cover of the Sex Pistols' Anarchy in the U.K. went down really well, before the bona fide classic Shout at the Devil had everyone singing along. Tommy Lee (drums/keyboards/vocals), thankfully now back behind the kit after a spell sidelined with tendonitis, had his moment in the spotlight as he rode his 'Cruecifly' half way into the crowd and back which was impressive to see. The tracks ran all the way out to the mixing desk, so Lee was suspended in mid-air while drumming all the way there and back. It helped to give the show some added spectacle, and it went down well with the crowd. Mars' guitar solo that followed was probably the only weak moment of the set, as it dragged on for far too long. He has never been one of the best guitarists in the world, and this solo spot only highlighted that. I was glad when the band got back to the business of rocking with Saints of Los Angeles before heading all the way back to the first album with Live Wire. Two real glam anthems: Dr. Feelgood and Kickstart my Heart finished off the main set to huge cheers from the capacity crowd as Neil and Sixx went out over the crowd on hydraulic platforms. There was time for one more though, and a smaller stage was set up near the mixing desk for the band to perform the power ballad Home Sweet Home from. This proved to be a real sing along moment, and it made for a perfect end to a great evening of rock. The setlist was:

Girls, Girls, Girls
Wild Side
Primal Scream
Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)
Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Smokin' in the Boys' Room [Brownsville Station cover]
Looks That Kill
Mutherfucker of the Year
Anarchy in the U.K. [Sex Pistols cover]
In the Beginning
Shout at the Devil
Louder than Hell
Drum solo
Guitar solo
Saints of Los Angeles
Live Wire
T.N.T. (Terror 'N Tinseltown)
Dr. Feelgood
Kickstart my Heart
Home Sweet Home

With Mötley Crüe's lifespan coming to an end, they are really making sure they go out with a bang, literally! The pyrotechnics and fireworks that were set off after Kickstart my Heart were some of the best I have seen at a live concert, and just in time for Bonfire Night! I am so glad that I got to see a Mötley Crüe show that lived up to expectations before they call it a day, and this show will be running around my head for weeks to come I expect.

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