Security was tight during intermission between the good-timey Glam Metal Lite vibe of Poison's performance and what would prove to be the Glam Heavy Metal onslaught of Motley Crue. By tight, I mean (no offense ladies), literally, as in tight bright yellow halter tops and even tighter black ultra-short spandex hot pants on the Teenage Supervixen Security Force Outlaw Jam had posted at the Entry/Exit gates to the VIP/Platinum Seating area. Each article of clothing, if you could call them that, had the words, "Security Team," strategically emblazoned on them just where you would expect them to be (I'll say no more). All of which, made great eye candy, granted, but it also slowed to a crawl the masses who chose to exit in between shows to either get and/or get rid of liquids before the main event. That's because every Beavis and Butthead buffoon, including my ex-lead guitarist and myself, had to stop to either thank Fox Force Five for doing such a great job "securing" us, or to propose to them, whichever came to our pee brains first.
Once out of their chokeholds (I wish), we were free to roam the Frederick Fairgrounds. Taking in the local color (though no colors were permitted for this particular biker event), plus lotsa choppers, chicks and chili dogs, too, for sure. We walked past booth after booth of custom bikes, custom leather, and even custom strippers! Man, if I had the bread and still had more than one cat life left, I think I would dive right into this lifestyle, I'm tellin' ya. I bought a leather belt for my vintage KISS belt buckle in the leather booth (which was also associated with the one of the strip club booths) and the shop girl, er...um... off-duty stripper behind the card table make-shift counter, who looked not a day over 18, was boppin' to Ted Nugent, "Double Live Gonzo." Definitely, this was the life for me! I woulda checked my bank account at the ATM, but I couldn't find one, to see if I could pick up a chopper or stuff the black leather bikinis she was wearing when it was her turn on the "stage" they had rigged up in the adjacent booth. Talk about one stop shopping. Bikes, Leather goods, Strippers! Done!
But, alas, we had more important things on our minds, namely a couple of pit beef sandwiches (I actually had the turkey -- you are what you eat, after all) and some fries. I got an Arnold Palmer but then opted for a beer after I saw the Prestone colored stuff they were mixing into the "Iced Tea" like liquid, when I ordered it. We wolfed down our food while seated against a cyclone fence opposite the huge beer and food concession as we watched the grand pageant of The Great American Rock'n'Roll Unwashed pass before us (don't get me wrong, my ex-lead guitarist and I are card-carrying members, also).
Before I knew it, I could hear Cheap Trick's "Stiff Competition" loudly coming over the P.A. Loudspeakers, which instinctively triggered my brain to ram what was left of my sandwich down my throat and chug my beer. I turned to my lead guitarist, and said, "Listen, dude, they're playin' Trick! That's Motley's pre-show music. We wanna get back down there!" Of course, he was reluctant, thinking we were gonna have to wait 20 more minutes plus, like we did for Poison, before Crue would hit the stage.
We bee-lined for the front, just stage-right of center, on Mick's side (we're all about the guitarists -- who isn't?) and channeled rude New York subway riders, elbowing our way to point-blank position. You gotta love the way this festival was set up. Thanks, to Allyson's tip on BBG!, we snagged Platinum Seats. I was experiencing much trepidation before the festival about how it was all going to go down. When we got to the Platinum Seating area (first five rows), I was told by a mean old lady (What happened to Fox Force Five?) we would have to fend for ourselves. Well, it worked out great, because in front of the stage was "The Pit" and it hadn't gotten totally packed yet when we lined up before both band's shows, so people didn't get weird when we squeezed in.
Well, my instincts were right, because the minute we got in our positions, BAM! came crashing down Mick Mars' Monster Riff to "Wildside" along with the huge curtain that had been hiding what can only be described as an epically huge stage set. Mars was just to my left, on his mark, donning his beat up '68 Fender custom chopped and shopped go-to Olympic White Strat, a sleeveless black Gap T-Shirt, black Lipstick skinny jeans and black Nike's, all topped off with his de rigueur crunched up leather top hat. It was a spot he would habitate, more than not, most of the night (due to his limited ability to move because of the debilitating degenerative disease he suffers from), just behind some strange black contraption (if anyone wants to tell me what the h*ll the thing is -- it looked like a sharpshooter's scope -- is it a "drone" camera facing him, maybe, to show his leads without having a cameraman block the audience's view?)
At the very center of the stage was a HUGE circular metal structure which I surmised to be Tommy Lee's latest contraption, the much ballyhooed $1,000,000 "Roller Coaster" drum set flanked by HUGE stacks of HUGE amps just in front of it, that, instead of the stuff usually covering Marshall stacks, were covered in hip looking tapestry fabric that looked like old rugs stolen from the set of the Guns & Roses video for "Patience." It all looked ginormous, elaborate, and deliberately kind of apocalyptically makeshift and hip. Tommy was perched way up on his kit (no roller coaster action yet, obviously) and bangin' out the unmistakeable cowbell and drum intro that accompanies Mars like a blacksmith pounding on an anvil in a steel mill.
In runs Crue resident genius, the inimitable, Mr. Nikki Sixx, albeit with a more portly stature, shall we say, than recent memory, yet still able to muster plenty of frantic, Full Metal Manic energy, in what would prove to be the perpetual state-of-emergency vibe of the band (save Mars) on stage throughout the night (which is sayin' something since these guys are all pushin' 50 and over). Sixx's face was plastered with white Kabuki make-up that appeared to be some sort of self applied hybrid job looking like something, whether intentionally or not, between that of Paul Stanley of Kiss and Robert Smith from The Cure but came off (literally coming off) more like Bob Dylan's pancake white-face make-up job during 1975's "Rolling Thunder Review" Tour. He was bedecked in head-to-toe black leather, including this rather bizarre looking Motley Crue logoed leather flap thingy attached to the back of his jacket, covering his a*s, which I thought was kinda weird but, nonplussed, my ex-lead guitarist readily assured me, "He's always had stuff like that hangin' off his a*s for years."
As I thought about it, I realized he was wearin' some kind of a*s rig when I saw Motley 4th Row, opening for Aerosmith at Jones Beach on Long Island back in 2007. Regardless of this unfortunate detail, I can tell you, in no uncertain terms, he was Rockin' A*S (!!!) 10X harder at Outlaw Jam than he was back then (the theory partially being that it's much more exciting to be headlining, obviously). And he was about to get even more animated as the set began to unfold. Oh, and by the way, as most of you well know, Sixx also possesses what has to be the coolest Rock'n'Roll hairdo of any living Rock legend today (looking a lot like Rod Stewart's and Ron Wood's hair, natch, who have pretty much shared the same bird's nest hairdo, besides the color, for 40+ years. Keith Richards also had it for quite awhile but let it go in '77 in favor of whatever the h*ll it is he's got now).
Out, from what seemed to be nowhere, popped Vince Neil, now standing arched right over us, resplendent in "dirtied" American flag and silver leather hip hugger bell bottoms and a black leather vest, just in time to sing, in his best impression of Little Alvin (of Little Alvin and the Chipmunks cartoon fame), "Kneel down ya sinners to street-wise religion. Greed's been crowned the new king. Hollywood's dream teens, yesterday's trash queens. Save the blessings for the final ring," and held out his Swarovski crystal encrusted Sennheiser SKM 535 G2 Microphone, glittering in the twilight, for the audience to shout, "AMEN!" which we all obligingly did, of course, but not without the help of two comely Superstripper back-up "singers," who suddenly materialized at Neil's side.
Thus began a Hooligan's Holiday Mass to be remembered as the sun set behind our heroes this hot and muggy Maryland August night. Sixx ran up to the dead center edge of the stage, just a little left to where we were standing, and flipped and hoisted his bass around like it was '83 all over again. Then he became strangely fascinated with someone in the audience just beyond my site line, much like the White Tiger in Siegfried & Roy's show at the MGM Mirage moments before it mauled Roy. Sixx then leaned over the edge of the front of the stage as he thumped one of his signature black Gibson Blackbird bass, just to my left and began pointing his black nail polished index finger at this person, motioning to come closer to him. I couldn't see who he was targeting, so I kept watching Sixx, who was so close to me, I coulda reached out and grabbed his ankles out from under him, if I wanted to. It actually looked like he was making an early selection from the dessert tray to bring backstage at the end of the show. But, that was not the case, to say the least.
At the conclusion of "Wildside," Sixx ran back to the amp stacks, as Mars slowly retreated back to his "spot" and Vince and his back-up "singers" quickly disappeared backstage. During this quick (I'm talkin' seconds), Nikki was back in between the stacks and one of the multiple entrances backstage (when I say the stage was huge, I mean "HUGE"), talkin' to one of the plethora of Jerry Springer Show/"Fightclub" Goth "Stagehands" (I wonder if AEG supplies these guys?) assigned to listen to him but not do anything he tells them, while Sixx pointed in the general direction of our person of interest to my left in the audience. I thought he was simply informing his "Stage Slave" to grab this person, who I now assumed was a chick, and snatch 'em out of the audience for later.
With a whoosh, the band was again leaping (well, all except Mars, understandably) about the stage to "Saints Of Los Angeles," continuing the "religious" theme of the evening, and Nikki was back in our faces, again, egging on whoever it was to come closer. He smiled and mugged at this person, widening his eyes like Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, now kneeling down on one knee, almost begging the person to come forward, holding out his hand for them to grab.
At least, that's what it seemed like...
"Sainthood" was not on Nikki's mind for long, because in one lightning fast, fell swoop, Sixx abandoned his Blackbird to the stage floor and quickly jumped down into the crowd just three feet and a couple of bodies away from me. For a moment, I thought he was wanting to crowd surf, but then quickly came to the conclusion that (1) It's a little early in the show for that, and (2) Sixx would probably never do that. I finally got up the courage to push forward and actually see what the h*ll was going on and who he was now, more than obviously, going after. The scene I came upon was a strange kind of dance, more of a game of chicken, actually, between Sixx and a tall lanky kid who looked like he could have been a med student, as he was simultaneously holding the guy's arms and lunging for his brand spankin' new Canon EOS 5D Mark II Digital SLR Camera with a foot and a half long EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Super Telephoto zoom lens. Hate to say it, but this guy shoulda known cameras of this type are banned from this and probably every other festival and venue Crue and Poison play(ed) this summer or anytime, for that matter. It all came crystal clear to me that, though this kid appeared to be just taking pictures, he was actually shooting 1080 DPI digital video of the show and probably fully intended to get the whole thing. What he didn't expect, rather ignorantly, was that Crue doesn't like this, particularly Sixx, who, despite the presence of all of his Goth "Fight Club" Vulture Force Stage "Crue," had to rely on himself to go after this unsuspecting would-be "paparazzi" videographer.
The rest of the band came to a grinding halt as they looked on in mutually semi-shocked amusement.
In a flash, the ginormous hipster, heavily earlobe gauged, prerequisitely bald "Stage Crue" monsters were all over the front of the stage and stage diving into the audience after Nikki (I wonder if Crue and Poison get a package deal on these guys?) I had to pull back from the ensuing mass hysteria as I did not want to receive an errant Doc Marten steel toe in my face. Some airhead chick blabbed out "I love you Nikki!" as Sixx was hoisted up, kicking and screaming, away from the kid with the camera and pulled back onto the stage as he screamed at the kid, "Gimme that camera!" and to his "Stage Slaves," "I want that f*ckin' camera!" As Sixx was brushed off and his outfit straightened by his handlers, a baker's dozen of the brawniest of the all-in-black, bald brigade stage boyz were still down in the trenches, now circling our hapless "photographer," swarming him for his prized possession.
Within seconds you could see the camera rising above the bobbing silhouette of the crowd with the "poor kid" jumping after it, trying to grab it back, as it was handed from one stagehand to the next (now we know why they call them stagehands, yuk-yuk). But, come to think of it, do you think it would be at all possible that Nikki had told his boy back by the amps minutes ago, "I'm goin' after that kid with the camera, so make sure you guys come pull me out when it gets too crazy," or something to that effect? Ya gotta wonder, except for the fact that his "protectors" looked genuinely surprised when he lept from the stage. I also wonder if the kid was summoned after the show to have his camera returned, but not before being scolded personally by Sixx, who now sorta comes off like a hands on guy for reasons other than this isolated incident, which I will theorize about later -- but, unfortunately, we know better. More like Sixx is probably shooting footage for a documentary about himself with the thing as you read this, hahaha!!!)
As Sixx got back by his amps to get a different but similar looking Blackbird strapped over his shoulder, Vince ran up and chest bumped him and then gave him a quick bear hug, which was kinda funny, as these two are both so rolly-polly now (just so no one is offended, I'm like 20 lbs. overweight, myself). Then Tommy got into the act, climbing down from his perch to high five a now fully roostered-up Nikki, who was pumping up his chest and flicking back his hair as he paced back and forth. Tommy strutted back, wearing nothing but black Armani workout shorts, a pair of John Varvatos leather Chuck Taylor high tops, and a Shure PGXD14/PG30 Digital Hands-Free Headset Microphone, looking like some crazed cold calling telemarketer for Hell, Inc., as he proclaimed, "Nikki f*ckin' Sixx, everybody! We take no f*cking prisoners, motherf*ckers!"
If the stage had walls, Crue would have been bouncing off of them as their adrenalin was really pumping in unison now, save for Mars, who was all business and couldn't be bothered with any of it, staying on his mark quietly on his side of the stage, clicking his foot on an effects button and adjusting a knob on his machine head, reloading for the imminent relaunch of his onslaught.
And with that, now even more energized, the band started all over again the song they had abruptly stopped for Nikki's shenanigans, once again mounting their chugging attack of an intro to "Saints Of Los Angeles". "Saints" indeed.
The crowd roared as Crue was now firing on all pistons, seeming almost as never before in their entire existence. If only Sixx could come up with 10 more new songs this good, without squandering them on side projects like Sixx A.M. or wasting his songwriting energy on Nashville ditties for Leann Rimes and such.
Sixx was now out of his gord, which, I must say, made for quite an amusing performance, continually coming over to harass the kid, who, contrary to later reports, had NOT been ejected. At one point, Sixx loogied a big mouthful of "water" over in the kid's general direction, though you have to wonder if it made it all the way out to where he was standing.
The timing was perfect as moments later, without skipping a beat, Crue tore through "Live Wire" like it was back at The Starwood in '81, all over again. Vince uncharacteristically sang the whole song, except to allow the audience to sing the refrain, "Come on baby. Gotta play with me. Well, I'm your live wire, yeah. Better lock your doors. I'm on the prowl tonight. Well, be mine tonight!" which he then repeated (his customary approach to performing this song live). It was the biggest moment of the night for me, as this is my favorite Crue song and I regard it as a somewhat biographical description of the earlier chapters of my own personal story, hahaha!!!
Mars came out to the edge of the stage to play for us, note for note, nearly all of his leads to all of the songs that Crue performed that night, a total thrill for us guitar lead trainspotters. No matter how much Sixx and Neil got in our faces, I still kept my eyes and ears trained on Mars, as he is one of the greatest unsung guitar heroes in existence today, not just in the annals of Glam Metal, but in every possible genre of Rock'n'Roll. He cites Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Page, Paul Butterfield, Michael Bloomfield, George Clinton and incongruously, Nine Inch Nails, as current influences and it shows, since his tone is self professed to be a deeper, generally slower, and to quote him, directly, a "sludgier Metal tone than anybody's." Though I personally prefer C.C. DeVille's more disposable Pop Metal high speed lead playing, there's no denying Mars plays with way more depth and range than DeVille.
Next, they launched right into "Shout At The Devil," which invited further audience anticipation, though Neil did not, I repeat, did not, ignore his vocal duties. I'm tellin' ya, from where I stood, the crowd was just getting crazier and crazier the entire time Crue was on stage with the whole energy of the show building with every song. Being point blank is the only way to go, really, as you are constantly treated to moments when all three characters are huddled together, leading over the stage, pummeling the audience with the music, as well as the occasional lead flourish our guitar hero worship pyrotechnics.
Speaking of pyrotechnics, I felt like I was actually getting a little bit of a tan from all the flames from the pyrotechnical display coming up throughout the show from behind the stacks of amps flanking Tommy.
Now it was time to show off the back up "singers" some more, as the starred on both stage and the big circular movie screen, where their projected sepia toned images, along with archival footage of suffragettes and bondage, were perfectly framed by Tommy's "Drum Coaster." They were both dressed in some old "Deadwood" saloon girl outfits and kinda sorta made out during the song. It should be noted Sixx and Tommy covered managed to cover all of the background vocals as the girls performed their little Vaudeville act in mock church pews, while Little Alvin pranced about the stage.
Mars was now more than succeeding in tearing through our souls and really went in for the kill with "Primal Scream," which he also cites as his favorite Crue song, guitar-wise: H-E-A-V-Y! Neil, once again, nailed the whole thing, even pausing for a moment, right in front of us, to shake his adam's apple with his mic free hand, before letting out a trademark primal scream of his own to rival his heyday. I, among many, have consistently complained about Neil's half-*ssing his singing, particularly in his solo gigs, but that wasn't evident at all this night. By now the sun was down and the moon was up and Neil was howling like a hyena (and sometimes, a Chipmunk) in the desert heat, which was actually, the Maryland heat, lest we forget. Astonishingly, Neil sang over 90% of all of the lyrics to all of the songs that night. And, hey, whatever ya wanna say about his voice, one thing you can't take away from him, it certainly is distinctive.
After all the big ultra-heavy Judas Priest meets AC/DC never-ending series of false endings Crue tacked on the end of "Primal Scream" finally concluded with one anti-climatic double-punched thud, the lights went way low to just a deep blue with a circle of white shafts of light that followed a mirrored Steinway grand piano fit for Liberace, as it was rolled out right smack in front of us by the Goth Hip Springer Security Team with Tommy trailing right behind them.
You'd have to have been living under a rock since 1985 (unless, of course, you weren't born yet or your Mommy and Daddy wouldn't let you watch MTV) not to know what was coming next.
Tommy sat himself down at the huge mirrored Steinway and proceeded to play the intro to "Home Sweet Home," finally giving him a real chance to connect with the audience, as he is otherwise tucked up into his kit, to watch all the action on stage from above. More significantly, "Home Sweet Home" is his crowning achievement, as it just so happens he wrote the piano intro that is one of THE most recognizable pieces of music now so indelibly etched in the our collective pop psyche (chances are even some random old man who doesn't even listen to music has heard it on an elevator somewhere in the world).
I was in awe and in the moment. Here was Tommy Lee, point blank, right before my eyes and ears, with a sole shaft of white light shining down upon him at this spectacular mirrored grand piano playing the intro to what can be considered the most quintessential and perhaps, even "The Greatest Power Ballad of All Time." As he played, Mick Mars slowly sauntered over to him (what a Rock'n'Roll hero, to keep playin' through all of his physical pain. For him, it certainly can't just be all about the money). Before accompanying Tommy on his Telecaster, Mars fist bumped his buddy in between notes and then joined in. And then slowly, Sixx came out and, quietly beginning the bass line, joining them from the other side of the piano. Then Neil joined in, as they all surrounded Lee as he, Mars and Sixx played on. It was a touching moment from a bunch of Rock'n'Roll Hooligans, as they were all gathered around the piano, a side we rarely see from them.
If there's been a decline in cigarette smoking in the 18-49 demographic in this country, you never would have noticed it, judging from this audience. I turned around from the spectacle on stage and saw what seemed like thousands of lighters waving in the air, illuminating the fairgrounds. Tommy stopped playing and the whole place was silent save for the occasional "whistle" and "yelp." The whole band leaned in on the piano without saying a word as they laid each of their right hands over the top of the other at the center of the piano. They then all raised them up interlocked in a show of unity before pulling them back to high five each other.
Then Vince asked Tommy, "Should we do this?" and Tommy said, "Yes, we should."
With that, Neil began to sing those first oh so memorable lines...
Vince: "They say I'm a dreamer, but my hearts of gold..."
And Tommy began his classic piano riff once again.
Vince: "I had to run away high, so I wouldn't come home low."
Then Mick joined back in, then Nikki, and there, live and in person, we got "Home Sweet Home" in all it's glory -- Like Poison doing "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" earlier that night, "it was one of the biggest Rock'n'Roll moments of my life." (I laugh now when I think how much I've trashed "Every Rose" on BBG! over the last few years, by the way, but I digress.)
At the conclusion of "Home Sweet Home," out came running a bunch of roadies who looked like hipper versions of extras in the movie "Fight Club," to wheel away the piano as the boys all retreated except Vince, who started bantering some sorta misogynistic pseudo-chauvinist b.s. about how much he loves girls and how everybody needs girls like his, as the back-up "singers" made their way to him. One brought some sort of white electric guitar I couldn't make out and the other kissed him on his cheek that he was pointing out the exact spot where he wanted it. He then started off "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)," as the girls "sang" along with him. The whole thing was kinda by the numbers, as Crue obligingly went through another one of their hits. Still, it was quite enjoyable, nevertheless.
And now for the much anticipated drum solo, which really amounted to Tommy Lee sort of just keeping time to some weird rave track probably left over from one of his techno-rock studio forays, which was completely understandable because he wound up playing sideways and upside down on his crazy roller coaster contraption. Though it was quite large, it didn't look like it cost a million bux but they probably paid that just to say it cost 'em a million bux.
It was kinda corny but also cool as he went around 360 degrees several times. Then he stopped for a moment at the bottom to pick up some unsuspecting and unremarkably normal looking girl out of the audience as more Jerry Springer/Fight Club stage hands and drum techs affixed an authentic roller coaster seat onto the back of Tommy's rig. They proceeded to strap the chick into it for what would certainly be the ride of her life. And the whole thing was captured on the "Rollercam" for all to see on the ginormous Jumbotron on the left side of the stage as she went upside down a couple of times with Tommy.
After all of the fun and games, it was time for the evil sorcerer to summon the devil from his guitar and this was the main reason my ex-lead guitarist and I had elbowed our way up to our position to begin with. What's even better, is some fans against the rail bailed and we were automatically pushed even closer. Like a frail little old man, Mick Mars slowly shuffled toward us and proceeded to let loose on a voyage through Guitar 101. Through Page, through Clapton, through space, through Hendrixian guitar pyrotechnics like I had never heard before! Though C.C. Deville is a much faster player and could probably beat Mars in a race, Mars turtle to C.C.'s hair, it was the turtle who snatched, but only for a moment, the guitar solo plaudits from C.C. that night, mainly because he didn't have some jerk like Michaels drowning him out while pointing out his leads and yelling his name.
After several minutes of the craziest sounds you ever heard come out of an electric guitar, Nikki came out and bent over at Mars' side and looked up with a cockeyed expression and clownish smirk into Mick's eyes which were still solely focused downward on his pick hitting his strings, as if trying to get Mars to come back from his space ride. Then up came Vince to help him finish his lead by placing his fingers on the fret board, as they both wound up playing the last few notes of Mars' Grand Finale together.
Nikki played about eight different Gibson Blackbird basses, all basically looking very similar, except for a few minor details. He broke out his classic black and white (glossy black one with white pick guard) at least once early in the show and then later went through a series of "Murdered Out" versions (In case you didn't know, "Murdered Out" is what they call something like a car or cycle when it's painted all black, including the wheels, the gas tank, with all of the logos and chrome either removed or painted black, too), with one more subtle, where you could faintly see the brown in the woodgrain show through.
Now he was wearing one that would have been considered totally murdered out, except it bore the word "MAITLAND" across the front of the body, roughly painted in all cap letters with what looked like neon green nail polish, appearing to be something he painted himself. I am still trying to figure out it's significance. (Does he mean Maitland, Florida? And why would that be? If any one knows it's significance, please let me know in the comments).
Off Nikki and Vince channelled backward toward Tommy, then Nikki circled back around to Mick as they both went blitzkrieged into "Looks That Kill," with Vince quickly back in their midst to sing it. All three moved to the edge of the stage and soon Nikki was looking down at us again with the ol' crazy eyes. Then Mick walked over to our right to crank out the lead for the VIP people though I could still see, and hear it, perfectly, as he was only about 12 ft. away. Then they all joined back together, center stage (there was no barrier between us and the band right at the center, by the way), right on the edge, just to the left of us and we got all three of 'em point blank once again. It was frenzied Metal Mayhem at it's finest and the crowd was right along with the band for the ride!
Then in a flash they were gone and the stage was empty.
But not for long, when suddenly the two Supervixen back-up "singers" came out from stage right, dressed as Mohawked Gladiatresses in outfits reminiscent of Tina Turner in "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome," each equipped with a huge flamethrower, with which they shot super-long streams of fire that seemed like 15-20 ft across the stage! (How the h*ll does the insurance cover that?) Opposite them, on the other side of the stage, appeared Mars, cranking up the opening monolithic riff to "Dr. Feelgood" and the crowd went beserk, screaming uncontrollably. We were treated to more of the up close and personal attention of Mr. Neil, as he sang the whole song right up front. He was then joined by Sixx and Mars and we were once again happily subjected to the "Full Motley," so to speak. Mars cranked the lead in our faces! HUGE! This is Metal, Metal people!
Then the boys did "Too Young To Fall In Love," as the crowd the crowd continued to cheer almost uncontrollably. Neil really proved his chops on this one, as far as I was concerned. I've seen Crue five times and Vince Neil solo twice and I'd never heard him nail this song so well. Chipmunkian hyena, all the way, screams and all! Without hesitation, they launched right into "Too Fast For Love," which was the second highlight of the night for me, next to "Live Wire" as it's a song they haven't played in recent years. What's great is Neil HAD TO sing the whole thing, as not too many people in the audience were that familiar with it, which is sad, since I humbly submit the album of the same title, their debut, as their best record. But the whole audience, including all the kids I was now surrounded by, all sang along, as it wasn't that hard to figure out the main chorus, that's for sure.
At the songs conclusion, Neil observed, "Damn, there sure are a lot of people tonight" as he stared at the crowd and then upward at a chopper (the helicopter kind) hovering overhead, lighting up the sky with a blinking 36 ft. digital billboard suspended from it like two huge snow plows on the front. The sign read, "Hardcore Choppers" (the motorcycle kind), with clever irony, reminding us where we were. And the timing couldn't have been more perfect (almost like they planned it), because the sound effects of choppers (the motorcycle kind) filled the air from the P.A.s and with that, Neil said, "Lets see if these still work..." and mimed revving the engine of a chopper with his hands clenched on imaginary handlebars in the air, riding an "air-motorcycle" if you will. It was amusing, but would have been a lot cooler, had he ridden out on an actual chopper as they've done in past years, especially when you consider the event and the audience. Huh-uh-lo-oh!!! Outlaw Jam???!!! (I can't believe the custom chopper builders like Hardcore didn't approach 'em with this idea -- shoulda offered to GIVE them the chopper, just to get it up there... This will remain a small mystery to me, why this didn't happen. Sure they may have had to cut the "Chopper Budget" to afford Tommy's "Drum Coaster" -- they obviously trimmed back on the back-up "singer" and performer budget from tours past -- but this would have been easily remedied, at least for this one-off, where it made such perfect sense, by just grabbin' one from one of the booths just beyond the stage perimeter).
And so they revved right into "Girls, Girls, Girls" and the whole place just completely ROCKED OUT, as we were also treated to a very cool archival film history of girls from old stag movies to clips of famous girls in famous movies, TV shows and commercials, while the band played on. Mick was at his mark, stage left. Directly behind him, one of his speaker cabinets even had a translucent window in which the silhouette of one of the back-up "singers" gyrated wildly in a contorted stripper dance to the music. While all of this was going on, once again, we were treated to Sixx and Neil right at the edge of the stage, who were soon joined by Mick.
Another big song ending, this one rivaling AC/DC minus Angus rolling on the floor and that's all she wrote.
Guitars off. Mic chucked (except for the crazy looking one I forgot to mention previously that's Nikki's which was suspended from the stage rafters on a pulley.) Picks plunked, Drum sticks launched.
But the crowd would have none of it. After much yelling and screaming, coming mostly from those down front (natch!), the Crue returned, in full form, playing, of all things, Gary Glitter's "Rock And Roll, Part I" (If that's doesn't make Crue irrefutably "Glam", I don't know what does!), with the whole audience shouting along, "Hey!" at the appropriate moments along with Vince, Tommy and Nikki, like we were all in the stands of an NFL Football Game.
After 2 1/2 minutes of that, the song perfectly segued into a cover of Brownsville Station's "Smokin' In The Boy's Room", which went to #3 on the Billboard Charts for Motley Crue in 1985.
The crowd went EVEN MORE wild as the band disappeared into the night... or maybe not...
And now, for the piece de resistance... and here's where it gets crazy...
A quick costume change while the crowd screamed, "One More! One More!" and the band was back out and crankin' the grand finale, "Kickstart My Heart." Strangely, they were all wearing the same uniform, each donning a little black number that when seen on each band member together, oddly made them resemble a Nuclear Waste Site Clean-Up Crew (read Crue, hahaha!!!). Again, the three front men stuck to the front of the stage, just two feet away from me. At this point, the whole place is just going nuts. It was an added bonus, when I realized Neil really delivered this night, singing 90+ percent of all the words, only to hold the mike out for some of the gang-style vocals of much of their repertoire. Of course, the band was also really tight, and it was never more evident than during the encore.
All at once, the band split up. Vince ran to the far corner of the stage, to his right and Mick shuffled over to his stage left, all the way over on the other side, going crazy with his talk box. Which left us with Nikki, who was now popping his eyes out like Rick Neilsen again, but now even more insane looking, crazily glaring at us and the rest of the nuts immediately below him. As he towered over us, he began to spit "blood" through some crazy contraption that was attached to a tank strapped to his back I assume was containing the "blood." Look, I've always said the guy is a genius but here's the perfect example of "Genius" gone in the wrong direction.
Of course, Sixx's initial target, once again, was the "poor kid" who lost his camera, as he shot the "blood" out as far as it could go in the general direction of his now "unarmed assailant." To be honest, I don't think Sixx cared who the "blood" landed on. And did that ever become even more obvious when he started spewing blood on as many people as possible at the edge of the stage. I pulled back a few feet to where I thought I might be safe, just beyond his target range. I sure as h*ll didn't want that stuff landing on my new $100 Marc Jacobs T-shirt (that I got on sale for $29.95 on sale at Nordstrom's Off-Rack the day before).
To make matters worse, as the band continued to crank through their superbly flawless performance of "Kickstart My Heart," now the Goth Jerry Springer/Fight Club goons brought out a dozen black buckets with the word "BLOOD" painted in the same lettering style as the "Maitland" Blackbird Sixx wore earlier, except this time in red crudely rendered nail polish. It makes me think this "nut" Sixx not only actually cooks up all of these kooky ideas himself, but personally hand-lettered his bass and the buckets, too.
I get it: KICKSTART MY HEART = "BLOOD"
I'm actually beginning to believe that he's that hands on, when it comes to this stuff. H*ll, he writes the songs, why not hand-letter the buckets, too? I would say Rikki Rockett did it, but the lettering would look much better if he did, plus, let's not forget, Nikki supposedly hates Poison (Hahaha!!! Really?)
Anyway, no way to know for sure, but one thing's for sure -- I knew exactly where those buckets were going and it wasn't gonna be on me or my Marc Jacobs T-shirt, no siree!
Now, I really moved back just beyond where I calculated the "blood" splattering that was about to occur. I wasn't about to be effected by some Nikki Sixx cheezy pop bizarro Rock'n'Roll ritual a la Alice Cooper, Ozzy and the 70's cult horror flick, Carrie. I moved back when Cooper threw sh*t in the audience, I moved back when Ozzy threw water out into the audience and I close my eyes every time the bucket of blood gets dumped on Carrie when I watch that movie.
Grand finale multiple false endings to the song and a final leap in the air, except from Mars, of course, who still timed the big ending with Tommy with perfect precision timing and the band all came out to the edge of the stage one final time, this time including Tommy, everybody in their little black overalls, for the perfunctory bows and "Thank You's." There they were in all their glory, Motley Crue, conquerers of time, internal squabbles, break-ups, addictions, terminal illness and near-death experiences, gazing down upon their loyal subjects -- Rock'n'Roll Riff Raff -- about to be unleashed into the night, but not before one last final toast... in "BLOOD!!!" as the "Stage Slave" droogs slung the bloody chum onto the ocean of Rabid Rock'n'Roll Piranhas. The whole band looked like a bunch of triumphant vampires after feasting on a high school cheerleading squad, laughing hysterically at the crazed Rock'n'Roll punks and punkettes beneath them willingly getting splattered right in their faces with "BLOOD!"
I thought to myself, "Are these people gluttons for punishment? They saw the buckets with "BLOOD" scrawled on them. They saw the droogs-in-wait. They saw the matching black nuclear waste janitor outfits. Didn't they know they were about to get splattered? Did they care? Apparently not. I was, literally, the only one who stepped back far enough to not get hit. Maybe I was the only one who just doesn't know how to have fun? But I sure was someone who knew how to stay dry!
Even my ex-lead guitarist got soaked.
And that's not all he got...
Rewind the footage -- there he is -- as Tommy threw his black hand towel he grabbed from around his neck, one audience member jumped just a little bit higher than the 10 other nuts who leapt up for it like baseball fans lunging for a foul ball. One guy looked like a star NBA rebounder when he snatched the towel in mid-air from the jaws of the unruly mob surrounding him. That guy was none other than my ex-lead guitarist. It was a truly an amazing sight.
Yet, I know how he thinks. C.C.'s pick is one thing, but my ex-lead guitarist grabbed Tommy's black towel, not for momento's sake. He grabbed it because he needed to wipe his brow of Nikki Sixx's "BLOOD."
Post Mortem: Later Sixx tweeted "Good night, you f*ckin' crazies." I hope he copied himself on that memo, as well.