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Concert Reviews:
Crue Fest Brings The Headbangers To DTE

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2008

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Asking an amphitheater full of headbangers if they're having an (expletive) good time on a sun-soaked summer day is about as rhetorical as asking a political candidate if he'd like a donation. The answer is an obvious affirmative.

And that was certainly the case when the inaugural Motley Crue-headlined Crue Fest rocked into town Tuesday (July 15) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre. The response was well-deserved, though, as the six-hour affair proved to be a welcome addition to the summer concert landscape, hard rock division, which has been abandoned this year by the perennial champion OZZFest.

Crue Fest is a somewhat different animal, mind you, but that's no knock. While there's something to be said for the day-long immersion in the heavy end of the rock world -- not to mention the sight of leather and metal studs in the pre-noon sunshine -- it was refreshing to experience a tight, energetic show in which five bands stomped through their sets in a smooth fashion, much to the near-sellout crowd's delight. The Crue itself, of course, was the top draw and had the best turnout of the day, but the festival spirit was certainly stoked by the undercard as Crue Fest offered a lineup in various stages of stature...

THE ICON: That would be Motley Crue, outspoken proponents of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll (just read their 2001 book, "The Dirt") who in these post-rehab days are less dangerous but still potent as a headliner. While frontman Vince Neil's vocals are a far cry from their heyday, the Crue's 90-minute show was greater than the sum of its parts, an exciting set laden with in-your-face pyrotechnics and played at maximum volume, with Tommy Lee's over-sized and over-miked bass drum the loudest thing in the mix. The Crue offered up three songs from its new album, "Saints of Los Angeles" -- including the title track, which featured the singers from all five Crue Fest bands, and "MF of the Year," for which the group was filming a video -- but leaning mostly on the big '80s hits such as "Kickstart My Heart," "Wild Side," "Shout at the Devil," "Looks That Kill" and "Home Sweet Home." "Don't Go Away Mad" and "Same Ol' Situation" reminded the Crueheads that the group can be a pretty fair pop band what it wants, but the thundering likes of "Primal Scream," a cover of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K." -- which subbed in the spot usually reserved for Lee's salacious video camera antics and the chunky "Dr. Feelgood" were what they really came to hear.

THE COMEBACK KIDS: Buckcherry, still riding the wave of success from 2006's platinum "15," didn't waste any time giving fans a taste of what's next, kicking off its 40 minutes with "Tired of You," a new song slated for its next album, "Black Butterfly," due out Sept. 16. The well-tattooed quintet also played its new single, "Too Drunk...," but its corps of hits carried the show, including "Lit Up," "Everything," "Sorry" and an extended (to a fault) version of "Crazy Bitch" that included snippets of Billy Squier's "The Stroke" and Prince's "Sexy MF."

THE CROWD-PLEASER: Kudos to Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix for spicing his group's set by twice heading into the crowd -- sans security -- and climbing across chairs and people as he worked his way through the pavilion. His two-toned hair made him look like an *NSYNC cast-off, but Shaddix and his bandmates delivered some genuine muscle with the slinky new song "I Almost Told You That I Loved You" and a closing barrage of "old school" favorites -- "Broken Home," "Between Angels and Insects" and "Last Resort."

THE UPSTARTS: Poor Trapt; the Los Angeles band has a new album, "Only Through the Pain," to push but was saddled with the lightly attended opening half-hour slot and was eclipsed by the anticipation for Sixx: A.M., Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx's side project, which is making its first full-fledged tour in support of its album companion to Sixx's memoir "The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star." Despite the relatively bare-bones stage set, the group -- fronted by Michigan native James Michael -- offered a glimpse at the album's conceptual majesty, particularly on the theatrically arranged "Dead Man's Ballet," while more straightforward fare such as "Accidents Can Happen," "Pray For Me," the new single "Tomorrow" and the anthemic hit "Life is Beautiful" was a sonic fit with the rest of Crue Fest.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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