“Night fuckers, we’re gonna miss you man”. With those words Tommy Lee brought down the curtain on Mötley Crüe’s show in Newcastle, the first of their last four dates in the UK.
The band’s “All Bad Things Must Come To An End” tour, which features Alice Cooper as a special guest, brought Crüe’s unique brand of hard rock and sleaze to the North East for the final time.
Overall the performance was a good one. As the stage went dark prior to the band’s arrival, the innocent refrain from The Sound of Music’s “So Long Farewell” began to play. Before the final note had rung out, however, it was brutally shattered before by the sound of a revving motorbike hailing the start of the Crüe classic “Girls, Girls, Girls”, a song about the pleasures of the L.A. strip club scene. After this followed a string of hits such as “Wild Side”, “Same Ol’Situation” and “Smokin’ In The Boys Room” which were met with delight by the packed arena.
The energy dropped, however, after an ill-advised attempt from bassist Nikki Sixx at an inspirational speech. Coming from a man who’s heroin addiction led him to be pronounced “clinically dead” in 1987, before being revived by medics, this kind type of emotional indulgence seemed out of place, and added nothing to the set. This was followed by a bizarre request from Sixx for the crowed to hold up their phones with the flashes on whilst the band covered the Sex Pistol’s “Anarchy in the UK”. Whilst this is not an unusual phenomenon at gigs these days, the sight of a sea of expensive smartphones jarred somewhat with a punk anthem written about non-conformity and revolution.
This lull was brought to a sharp conclusion with the unveiling of Tommy Lee’s “Crucifly” machine, which saw the drummer and his kit embark on a breath-taking rollercoaster ride in the rafters of the arena. This has become a staple of Crüe shows, and watching Lee grin manically as his drum kit turns him fully upside-down is a sight that no fan will forget for some time. This section also featured an extended guitar solo from Mick Mars. Here he proved that his diagnosis with ankylosing spondylitis, which has hastened the demise of Crüe, has not yet begun to effect his playing. To this day he can conjure sounds from his instrument that many players can only dream of, and it is impossible not to admire his determination to give Crüe fans one final tour.
The main set finished on a high with, “Dr. Feelgood” and “Kickstart My Heart”, probably the band’s two biggest hits, before Crüe returned for an encore of the ballad “Home Sweet Home” with Lee on piano.
Overall, therefore, Mötley Crüe delivered the goods, and when they do finally call it quits in L.A. on New Year’s Eve, the world of rock will have lost true giants of the genre.