Some bands burn out, others fade away but Mötley Crüe is doing it their way. Just like they always have.
It’s been nearly two years if you can believe it but the world’s most notorious rock band (Read The Dirt if you’re not easily offended) have hit the final stretch of their worldwide All Bad Things Must Come To An End farewell tour and made their final stop in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday at the Moda Center in Portland.
To say they blew the lid off the place is an understatement.
Fire – lots of it – explosions, steam vents and a drum solo you had to see to believe highlighted the 18* song, hour and 45 minute set in front of the loudest crowd you’ll ever hear. It wasn’t a sell-out, far from it, as curtains sealed off the entire upper bowl, but the fans who filled the floor and lower level let Mötley Crüe know how much they’ll be missed. And the foursome that started what can really only be described as a phenomenon 34 years ago made it clear they’re going to miss it too.
The show started off with their hit “Girls, Girls, Girls” with two dancing ladies helping the band out aesthetically and by the end everyone knew what was in store for the rest of the evening. Deafening stage bombs and streams of fire closed out the title track to their 1987 album. Guitarist Mick Mars then led with the awesome opening riff to “Wild Side” the opening track off the same album and the party continued.
It was an evening of hits and a few deep tracks including “Louder Than Hell” one of three songs from 1985’s Theatre of Pain and the band didn’t forget their roots reaching back to their first album from 1981 playing “Live Wire” the opening song on Too Fast For Love.
The setlist differed just a bit from the first pass through the area on this tour and what a difference a year and a half makes. The band always plays tight and brings contagious energy but singer Vince Neil looked a bit more in shape and most of all he didn’t get winded, lose his place or forget the lyrics. His voice was clean and he nailed those classic high notes.
OK, now for that drum solo. Walking in pre-show provides a glimpse of what’s to come with essentially a dual roller coaster style track starting from the main stage, lifting upwards probably 50 feet or so with various ups and downs of travel until it ended halfway into the floor section of the arena. Nothing short of a spectacle, drummer Tommy Lee pounded out a 10 minute solo on a revolving platform that lifted him over the audience along the track route and sometimes turning him upside down, while he played. Yes, upside down.
When he finally reached the far end of the track he took a small breather, told the crowd the track concept was a dream come true before starting again as the moving platform returned him to the stage. Mars had the not so enviable task to follow with a guitar solo and though it certainly wasn’t the exhibition Lee put on, his handling of the fret board despite suffering from ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis, shows not only do his fingers still work, really well, he’s got a bit left in the tank.
The full band returned to the stage to close the main set with the awesome “Saints of Los Angeles” the title song to the band’s last studio album from 2008, the rocking “Live Wire” and finally two of the best songs in their catalogue “Dr. Feelgood” and “Kick Start My Heart” both off their platinum and bestselling Dr. Feelgood from 1989. Bassist Nikki Sixx and Neil finished the show each on crane like contraptions that lifted them from the main stage out over the audience.
They returned for one final song in a most welcome encore playing the very apropos “Home Sweet Home” a rare balled from these heavy and audacious rockers but the only applicable song to say goodbye. And it was a heartfelt one at that. The band emerged on a second stage in the middle of the floor seating, complete with piano, that lifted them high as they played with Lee on the keys.
It’s been a long time, they’ve done a lot of bad things, and they don’t seem to get along well with each other at least for the long term. They’ve signed a deal that says when it’s over, it’s over. The walk-out music played Frank Sinatra’s “I Did It My way” and they certainly did.
The quality of play, their obvious love for performing and the seemingly endless amount of fun it looked for them on stage, it’s, as Lee said at the end of the show, really weird they’re saying good bye. The health of Mars is certainly a factor, they’re not 25 anymore, though they sound better than ever, and sure seasons must change and we all eventually take separate paths and separate ways but don’t just go away, not just yet.
Other bands have called it quits, returned for a farewell tour, then returned for a final tour. However, considering the nature of Mötley Crüe, don’t expect any such thing. It’s over.
You never know though. Keep your eye on the money.
*Did not include “In the Beginning” which preceded “Shout at The Devil.”
Mötley Crüe Portland (Moda Center) Setlist:
- Girls, Girls, Girls
- Wild Side
- Primal Scream
- Same Ol’ Situation (SOS)
- Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
- Smokin’ in the Boys Room
- Looks That Kill
- Mutherf**ker of the Year
- Anarchy in the U.K.
- Shout at the Devil
- Louder Than Hell
- Drum Solo
- Guitar Solo
- Saints of Los Angeles
- Live Wire
- Dr. Feelgood
- Kickstart My Heart
- Home Sweet Home