After reading all the negative reviews for Crue Fest, I have to admit I was a little nervous before Tuesday's show at Riverbend Music Center near Cincinnati. I cannot attest to the other reviews, but I know from experience that every performance Tuesday night was excellent.
As you can imagine, the crowd was getting dense for SIXX: AM. After all, Crue Fest is just about the only opportunity to see the band perform live. Nikki Sixx stayed off to the side and didn't steal much of the lime light. The 45 minute set was basically about singer James Michael and guitarist DJ Ashba. I was *very* excited about seeing SIXX: AM and I still stand by my statement that the Heroin Diaries soundtrack is perhaps one of the best rock albums of this decade. The band played "Tomorrow," "Accidents Can Happen," "Life is Beautiful" and "Pray for Me." I also got a lovely shower from DJ Ashba. He took a big swig of something and the spewed it all over the front two rows. Ah, Glam.
In case you're new here (or you've been living under a rock) Crue Fest 2008 features Motley Crue, Buckcherry, Papa Roach, SIXX: AM and Trapt. Now I will be the first to admit that I am not a Trapt fan but the band did their best to come out and give a high energy show. Running just five minutes behind schedule, Trapt played for less than 40 minutes. Trapt played a track off their new album Only Through the Pain. It was decent and I actually did receive that disc two weeks ago. Perhaps I should give it a shot? The crowd wasn't very big by this point, but people were starting to file-in nicely by the end of the set and yes, "Headstrong" got a nice reception.
Biggest surprise of the night? Papa Roach. I need to give this band another chance. Ok, so I know a lot of their songs but I wasn't expecting such a good performance. Despite the fact that Jacoby Shaddix's eyes look like they were bugging out, I was pretty much mesmerized. Talk about putting 100% into a performance. As with nearly every other stop on the Crue Fest tour, Jacoby sang a song in the crowd. I had more fun watching Jerry Horton play his guitar (ladies: meow). For whatever reason, it seemed like Papa Roach got a longer time slot than Buckcherry. I can't say enough good things about Papa Roach - I loved the entire performance! The band played a decent mix of songs from across their albums.
Obviously there were a ton of Motley Crue shirts in the crowd - but Buckcherry sure gave them a run for their money. By the time Buckcherry took the stage around 8 p.m., the amphitheater was packed. I think Papa Roach put on a better show, but Buckcherry were still very good. I can't get over how Josh Todd just sort of floats across the stage, kicking his legs to the side like a cartoon character. He's really very wiry, isn't he? While taking a photo of the floating Josh, a guitar pick hit my shoulder - and I handed it to Heather. Buckcherry are, after all, her band and she screamed along all the lyrics. Hearing "Too Drunk..." was fun to be sure. As a note, I don't recall ever hearing Riverbend more loud than when Buckcherry started the beginning of "Crazy Bitch." Insanity.
So, now it was time for me and Motley Crue. Being second row, center meant that I was thisclose to Nikki Sixx. There's no point in me posting the set list here because you already know the band played "Saints of Los Angeles" and "Motherfucker of the Year" from the new album and then all the Motley hits. Being so close to Vince Neil, it was easy to judge his mood: he was jolly. Jolly usually equals a good show and for the most part, Vince really did try to sing the words. He sang more lyrics than I expected and I swear he can still sing when he tries. As expected, Mick Mars was the highlight. So sick and quiet, just playing his guitar solos and owning the stage. I suppose that really says something when such a diminutive man with talent can outshine glitz and bravado. I really wanted a guitar pick but it wasn't meant to be I guess. I was too far from Mick's side and he only ventured center two or three times.
I didn't understand why - of all bands - Motley Crue would choose to end their show with a ballad. "Home Sweet Home" as an encore actually worked and made a lot of sense. It really was quite touching, with the band ditching the pyro and coming together in one small spot on the stage to have a nice moment with fans. This song choice actually made the show feel more intimate - even though there were about 15,000 people behind me. I wish I had more time (and money) to see the show again. Truly excellent.
**Concert week continues tonight. I'll be seeing Def Leppard and Billy Idol right here in Dayton.
**Allyson here. I just noticed the top picture looks terrible on my work monitor - but is awesome at home. I'm hoping you can see the devil image clearly. It really is a bad ass shot and excellent way for the Crue to open their show.