If the aging bad boys of rock known as Mötley Crüe really are on their final tour, they’re going out with a bang.
“The Final Tour,” Mötley Crüe’s two-year farewell trek, exploded in the Smoothie King Center on Friday night. The Crüe complemented the hits-loaded set list with quintessential arena-rock spectacle.
Mötley Crüe’s concluding “Final Tour” stretch, from July 22 through New Year’s Eve, includes more than 70 shows in the U.S., Canada and Europe. The band — singer Vince Neil, 54; drummer Tommy Lee, 52; bassist Nikki Sixx, 56; and guitarist Mick Mars, 64 — is not going quietly.
Most of Friday’s show — from the opening “Girls, Girls, Girls” to the pre-encore “Kickstart My Heart” — was, to quote another Crüe classic, louder than hell.
A shattering array of lights and exploding pyrotechnics — smoke, sparks and more arena-heating fire than this reviewer has ever seen at a rock show — accompanied the music.
A pair of strutting, hip-thrusting female dancers joined the onstage blowout.
As if columns of flame from a half-dozen or so stationary points weren’t enough, Sixx stalked the stage during “Shout at the Devil” holding a flame-throwing bass.
Lee’s “Crüecifly” roller coaster was the most elaborate effect. It carried the strapped-in Lee and his drums on a long, slow ride above the audience on the arena floor.
The show was short of a sellout, but the band inspired much enthusiasm. The on-their-feet faithful, many wearing Crüe T-shirts, often thrust fists and horn-shaped salutes into the air.
“Man, it feels good to be here tonight,” Neil told the cheering crowd. “Tonight, we’re gonna celebrate 34 years of Mötley Crüe music.”
In his greeting, Neil also mentioned the band’s legacy of drink, drugs and promiscuity.
“We were making music at the same time,” he said. “And we’re still here.”
Despite the pending end of Mötley Crüe, Neil and his fellow members didn’t act like a band ready to pack it in.
Mars is the possible exception. He has chronic arthritis. Friday night, he didn’t stride across the stage the way Neil and Sixx did, but he absolutely honored his role as lead guitarist, epic solos included.
For all of Mötley Crüe’s theatrics and the band’s headline-grabbing history — including jail time for Neil and Lee and Sixx’s almost fatal heroin overdose — the band created many hits.
With no new album to sell, Friday’s show was the celebration of past Mötley Crüe music that Neil promised. Momentum stayed high as “Wild Side,” “Looks That Kill,” “Dr. Feelgood” and more — well-crafted favorites laced with pop-friendly hooks — kept coming.
For a few more months, at least, it looks like these well-worn rockers won’t be resting on their laurels.
Alice Cooper, whose career predates Mötley Crüe by more than a decade, preceded the headliners with his stock-in-trade rock show-meets-horror movie-inspired theatrics.
Like the Crüe, Cooper has recorded many hits. Friday night, he performed his classics “I’m Eighteen,” “Under My Wheel” and “School’s Out.”
Like Mötley Crüe, Cooper got an enthusiastic response, even though his vocals were almost lost in the crush of hard-rock music. And the decades have made his horror scenes even more schlocky.