e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


Aging Rock Stars

On one hand, it's odd to see--as I did last night with my friends Jim and Janice--the members of Motley Crue take the stage amid massive pyrotechnics and proceed to bang their heads. On the other hand, what are they going to do, become accountants? I don't know if I realized that bands still go so far over the top. The Crue (now that I've seen them live, I can use the shorthand) brings out go-go dancers, shoots off fireworks, and keeps the dry ice industry in business. They play every single they've ever released ("We're going to play your favorite songs," singer Vince Neil announced), along with anachronistic-seeming drum and guitar solos. Drummer, reality tv star, and celebrity sex tape impresario Tommy Lee's drum kit is strapped to a roller coaster track that spins in a loop so he can play upside down. You can't look away.

Until you see Motley Crue live, you forget about the depth of their catalogue. They played hits for two hours. You also forget about the quality of their early tracks. "Shout at the Devil" is unimpeachable. Unlike an indie rock show, a Motley Crue concert focuses on entertainment and pleasure. Period. You can't help but have fun. The only moment of irony occurs during the montage of crowd photos that plays like a slide show on the big screen behind the band late in the show. Dudes flashing devil horns. Women showing cleavage. (Mostly) 40-something fans drinking in the parking lot. All during a song called "Too Young To Fall In Love." Priceless.

Two bands opened the show. Poison, slightly more "hair metal" and slightly less edgy than the headliners, did a short set, predictably heavy on familiar singles like "Talk Dirty to Me." When singer Bret Michaels--Tommy Lee's colleague in the world of reality tv--announced a song from their new album, fans were kind enough to eschew verbal disappointment. The song ended up being a cover of "We're An American Band." The evening opened with a thirty-minute set from 70s legends the New York Dolls, who no doubt influenced both of the more famous bands that played. I've seen the Dolls several times but enjoyed hearing classics like "Pills" and "Personality Crisis." The Dolls brought a little rock critic credibility to the evening and in some ways were an odd fit ("Strange to have a punk band open the show," Janice observed) but fit right in with the glam ethos of the Crue in particular.