After a long dissertation on his band’s history that felt like “This Is Your Life: Mötley Crüe Edition” — even recounting what he and drummer Tommy Lee were drinking the night they met in 1981 — bassist Nikki Sixx finally spoke to the matter at hand Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center.
“Our music is gonna haunt you for the rest of your lives,” Sixx told the sold-out crowd of around 15,000 fans.
Out on its officially proclaimed Farewell Tour, the Crüe seemed like it was on a mission to give us something memorable Saturday — if not from the same batch of tunes the band has been playing for the past decade-plus, then at least from the constant barrage of pyrotechnic effects that were almost rampant and loud enough to cause the kind of flashbacks war veterans suffer.
Really calling it quits
The latest and ostensibly last outing from the bad boys of the 1980s pretty-boy hair-band era really just turned the usual offerings of a Crüe show up to 11. More pyro. More F-bombs. More visual effects (including a pentagram-shaped lighting rig). More minutes where Lee hung upside-down over the crowd in his drum kit. More times the crowd winced at singer Vince Neil’s long-ago ravaged voice.
Neil’s squawking aside — and it actually wasn’t as bad as on some other recent tours — the quartet put on a strong showing, so much so it suggested the band really is calling it quits and wanted to go out on a high note (though we still could get a second go-round on this tour next year).
Veteran hair-band nostalgia
There was a little extra fire during the second song, “Live Wire,” beyond just the towering flames shooting from the stage. There was a little extra swagger and energy two songs later in “Looks That Kill,” beyond the shapely women dancers gyrating in backlit boxes above Lee’s drum kit. When they got to the finale “Home Sweet Home” nearly two hours in, there was a heightened air to the nostalgic power ballad, beyond the fact that they delivered it on a second stage that rose 50 feet above the crowd.
There was even an extra trace of sentimentality in Lee’s voice during his lengthy drum solo when — after his kit spun upside down on a roller-coaster-like track over the crowd to the opposite end of the arena — he mentioned his St. Paul-reared dad, David Bass.
“He gave up a lot of his life to let me do my drum thing,” Lee said.
After Lee’s long aero-head bit and another solo segment by guitarist Mick Mars — who visibly suffers from an arthritic condition but looked a tad more limber than he has of late — the Crüe really got down to business musically, tearing into the way-oldie “Too Young to Fall in Love” before the one-two pre-encore punch of “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Kickstart My Heart.”
“We’re not that young,” Neil quipped after “Too Young to Fall in Love.” That was the only admission if not the only indicator the band members aren’t the live wires they used to be, but they showed enough spark to call it a fine farewell.
Saturday’s opening act, Alice Cooper, one of the Crüe’s inspirations, provided resounding proof you can still put on a great hard-rock show well into your 60s (his nearly four decades of sobriety no doubt gave him a leg up on the Crüe).
The Detroit-bred shock-rock king was able to squeeze his usual stage acts in his abbreviated set, including his guillotine beheading and straitjacket serenade. More impressively, he brought the nearly full-packed, early-arriving crowd to its feet as he sang with gusto and pranced around coolly through “I’m Eighteen,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” and his finale, “School’s Out.” There’s still plenty to learn from ol’ Alice.