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Concert Reviews:
Motley Crue's going out with a bang -- literally

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Sunday, August 10, 2014

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- Motley Crue is saying goodbye with a bang.

Lots of bangs, actually.

The long-lived hard rock troupe's farewell tour, which played Saturday night, Aug. 9, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, was everything fans have come to expect from the Crue in concert -- loud, brash, energetic and loaded with enough pyrotechnics to put most Independence Day celebrations to shame. And this time out, because it is the Crue's claimed finale (although the Detroit area gets an encore appearance on Nov. 8 at Joe Louis Arena), there may have been just a little bit more of all of that for fans to enjoy.

After a widely reported rough tour start during early July in Grand Rapids, the Crue seems to have gotten its act more together. Saturday's 19-song, nearly two-hour show was delivered with relatively smooth precision, the primary flaws being an inconsistent sound mix and Vince Neil's tendency to fumble through on some of the lyrics, even from the quartet's biggest hits. And Nikki Sixx's lengthy oratory about the Crue's formation before a rendition of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K.," although heartfelt, was a mid-show speed bump that seemed mostly designed to let the Crue members catch their breath.

Mostly, however, the group capably delivered one party anthem after another, coming on stage after the clever opening intro of Rogers & Hammerstein's "So Long, Farewell" from "The Sound of Music" and sprinting through muscular and (literally) fiery versions of "Saints of Los Angeles," "Wild Side," "Primal Scream," "Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)" and "Looks That Kills." All the hits were there; "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)" was spirit-buoying fun and "Dr. Feelgood" and "Shout at the Devil" were dependably indestructible, while the Crue's take on Brownsville Station's "Smokin' in the Boys' Room" was bookended with the familiar chant from Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll (Part 2)." The group also dug deep for a few of its less celebrated tracks, too, including "On With the Show" and the power ballad "Without You."

There were a few mentions about the farewell nature of the tour, but for the most part the Crue went about the business of being the Crue -- though it did skip Tommy Lee's usual drum solo since the DTE stage was too small to accommodate the roller coaster-style device he employs for it. But when the quartet trekked to a second stage in the center of the DTE pavilion for its signature ballad "Home Sweet Home," it was hard not to feel like we'll miss having these guys and their flame-throwing showmanship come through town every few years.

Alice Cooper, meanwhile, made sure that the Crue had a tough act to follow -- especially in the shock rocker's own home town. Even as an opener, or in this case "special guest," Cooper and his five-piece band managed to shoehorn his own passel of hits and theatrics into a breathless and efficient 50-minute set, hitting on expected totems as he waved a sword filled with fake money above the crowd during "Billion Dollar Babies," tossed fake pearl necklaces during "Dirty Diamonds," turned into a giant, Kabuki puppet version of himself for "Feed My Frankenstein" and going through the familiar crime-and-punishment routine that ended with his "beheading" during "Killer."

The DTE crowd was clearly with Cooper from the first notes of "Hello Hooray," and he played to his Detroit roots, pointing proudly to the olde English D on the front of the vest he wore during "Under My Wheels" and sporting a Tigers jersey under his gold lame jacket for "School's Out -- all of which played well to fans who treated him as much like a headliner as they did Motley Crue.

Tickets, priced $20-$75, are still available for the tour's Nov. 8 stop at Joe Louis Arena. Visit www.olympiaentertainment.com for details.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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