Van Andel Arena
Grand Rapids, MI
I’ve been trying for a few years to see the Crue live in concert. I don’t know if it was nostalgia for an era of music I never got to experience or the desire to see a dirty and gritty rock band play to 20,000 people, but it was always a dream and it finally came true this past weekend in Grand Rapids.
Thanks to our press access, we were given side stage seat four rows from the stage. Perfect for seeing and hearing the entire evening at top quality without worrying about the drunk, enraged hair metal fans or their less than morally obedient girlfriends. No, tonight for me [and JP], was about the Crue.
Of course, there were some opening acts with varying amounts of talent:
The Last Vegas – This band kicked off the evening after being hand picked by the Crue themselves to open this tour. Though they’re a young band with only one release out, they certainly have the gusto to really make a name for themselves. Their music is straightforward 80′s arena rock. There is no denying the structure and vocal similarities between this band and the Crue, but maybe that’s why they won the contest in the first place, for keeping that spirit alive in our modern times. Their set was short, but they kept the energy as high as they could to a much less than 1/4 full arena [that did eventually fill out].
Theory of A Deadman – Of the three acts that opened the evening, TOADM stole it. Forget about the make-up, crazy hair, spandex, flair, etc. and keep the rock and you get Theory of a deam amn. Dressed in jeans and t-shirts the band took the stage to work through 45min. worht of material covering their whole discography. This isn’t exactly arena rock music, but the band did stray closer to their more radio friendly tracks to fit the bill. There was just something about how simply they presented themselves and the music, without any glam to it, that really hooked me into what they did [and I don't think I was alone on that front].
Hinder – There are a few bands that would make me not want to see Motley Crue because they are on the bill and Hinder just happens to be in the top 3. Whether it’s the over simple/written to get stuck in your head lyrics or the raspy vocals that never seem to fit the mood, I just can’t take this band. They worked through 9 songs between 2 albums and danced between tales of heartache, deceit, and of course, partying. It’s interesting to watch 15,000 people singing, “go home, get stoned,” in a venue where you can’t drink on stage or smoke indoors. Hinder is trying really hard to bring back the arena rock era, but there’s a difference between being good and silly and being the butt of the joke. This set and this band were the latter.
Then, following a solid 2.5 hours of music, came the show we’d all been waiting for:
Motley Crue – This set was everything I could have posisbly wanted in a live show. The band gave us 90 min. of tracks spanning their whole career, but not every album [which is a-ok] and barely paused to breathe throughout. The stage rig seemed to involve 200 moving lights, a large “Los Angeles” sign that resembled the historical Hollywood sign, pyro, sparks, fireworks, and three 20 ft. screens for montage clips. Yup, the 80′s mentality of go big or go home with your live show was in full effect and it was loved. The only true downer of the evning was guitarist Mick Mars who seemed to be either ill or facing technical difficulties all night as between nearly every song he was side stage or backstage with various crew members.
There were two spoken word segments, one given by Tommy Lee and the other by Nikki Sixx. I like this aspect as they are, if not moreso, as big as vocalist Vince Neil. Tommy’s public exploits seemed to be the person he attempts to be no matter where he goes. His time consisted of pumping up the crowd, asking to be flashed, rubbing his nipples, and praying. Typical Crue exploits. Nikki Sixx brought a child on stage who quickly asked to be returned to her mother. To which nikki replied, “yea, I want your mom too.” It may seem silly, but its these moments where we saw the guys are really just happy to be playing music still.
By the end of the night, our vocal chords and feet were tired, but the sense of rock and roll was alive and well and really, what more could you want?
*Written By: James Shotwell*