Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper, Allphones Arena, Sydney 16/05/15
‘All Bad Things Must Come to an End’ – That’s the catchphrase accompanying this, Mötley Crüe’s self-proclaimed final tour, and for many casual observers who’ve been watching the Crüe over the years, there would appear to be more than a kernel of truth to the statement, however jesting the context in which it’s to be seen on the merch flying out of the trailers that surround the Allphones Arena.
Still, that hasn’t stopped the faithful from flooding the trains to Homebush to pay homage to their heroes one last time, whatever the ravages of time may have done to them (or indeed us), and by the time your excited reviewer takes his well appointed review position at stage right, the place is full , sweating heavily and singing along with reckless abandon to main support Alice Cooper, who’s whipping up a storm as only Alice Cooper can, surrounded by a troup of well-drilled, musically superior sidemen (and women – newish recruit Nita Strauss is an absolute revelation on lead guitar).
If you’re of the age that this tour package is aimed squarely at, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll have seen Alice before, but rarely will you have seen him performing at such high levels of heavy metal thunder. Freed of the responsibility that comes with headline status, Cooper – afforded, it must be said, ample stage and lighting from tonight’s main event – stalks the stage with abandon, gleeful eyes flashing as all the usual props are wheeled out to aid a superb greatest hits setlist that culminates with a truly thunderous, joyous take on School’s Out. If you’re heading out to the remaining Australian dates of this farewell tour, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you to make sure you’re in your seat in time to catch Alice Cooper – but I’m telling you anyway.
All of which leads us to the Crüe. Everyone has their own favourite Mötley tale, everyone who grew up with the band their own story to tell, their own testimonial to add to the list that says that yes, this is truly one of the most important bands in the history of heavy rock n’roll; And though age is now certainly wearying them, although we know Vince Neil struggles vocally, although we know it takes a team of crack medical staff to get Mick Mars up and running every night, despite all of that we roll up in our thousands whenever summoned because we know these blokes will strain every sinew available to them to entertain us, to reaffirm our love for this music, this lifestyle, this very essence of our being. And tonight is no different.
Yes, Neil spends most of the evening sounding like a dog with an advanced case of distemper, but that doesn’t stop him giving his all. Call it shameless arrogance, call it pure belief in the righteousness of what he’s doing, call it whatever you like – the man gives everything, and not one soul leaving the arena at gigs end thinks anything other than that. It’s commitment to the cause on a grand scale, and at this level that is enough to get Neil through; similarly Mars, who, it must be noted, solos like a demented man all night, defying age and arthritis to give an immaculate display of fleet fingered fretwork and heavy duty blues-metal riff bombast the likes of which we’ll not see again after the man finally hangs up his plectrum. And then of course there’s Nikki Sixx, the coolest man in rock n’roll, king of the four string motherfucker and all he surveys. I’m not afraid to admit I cheered myself hoarse every time the man pointed even vaguely in my direction, and, though he doesn’t put in the effort of his two out-front compadres he stalks the stage in best rock-god fashion throughout.
Of course, you’ve got access to social media, every last one of you, so you’ve no need to read a detailed description of ‘that’ drum solo; suffice to say it takes a long time to finish (doubtless giving time for Neil to get some much-needed oxygen in to him and for Mars to have a hip replacement); That said, it sets the audience up perfectly for the home run and the band smash through to the finish line with storming renditions of Live Wire, Girls, Girls, Girls and Kickstart my Heart like the teenagers they so obviously still think they are in their heads.
It’s heady, life-affirming stuff, and then, after an encore of Home Sweet Home, there’s silence. That’s metaphorical silence, of course, as the faithful make their way out into the fresh Sydney air still screaming at the tops of their voices, but, if you listen very quietly, you’ll hear it. The silence of the grave. They haven’t always been my fave bunch of lipstick killers, but, now it’s over, I’m gone miss them.