Concert Review: Motley Crue Bids Farewell to Portland on Final Tour

Motley Crue Nikki Sixx

If this truly is Motley Crue’s Final Tour – then what a way to go out.

Known as much, if not more, for their antics off stage than their music on stage, the Bad Boys from Hollywood played to a massive sell-out crowd on Saturday at the Sleep Country Amphitheater in Ridgefield, WA just north of Portland, OR.

Dubbed “The Final Tour” Motley Crue played a solid 20 song nearly two-hour set of hits mostly from the 1980s and nearly every album represented, at least the ones the original four, and therefore the classic lineup, all played on. Motley Crue from 1994 infamously left out singer Vince Neil and New Tattoo in 2000 saw drummer Tommy Lee split from the band.

Vince Neil

Vince Neil of Motley Crue

The Crue opened with a bang and blinding explosions with “Saints of Los Angeles” the title song off their most recent album, now six years old. “Wild Side” was next and the band even got in the single release “Primal Scream” featured on their “best of” album “Decade of Decadence” from 1991. Up next, “Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)” with that great guitar riff was the first of five songs from 1989’s Dr. Feelgood and the “Looks That Kill” one of many songs about the band’s favorite subject, women, was straight-up hard rock.

For its part, the band played tight most of the evening. Neil still has that crazy high-pitched almost nasally falsetto. Sometimes it gave out when pushing his limits but he quickly cut away from the mic. Physically however, Neil doesn’t seem to be in peak tour shape, yet. Though he pranced around like a man 30 years his junior, he’s gained some significant weight, only notable because he clearly was winded at times especially on the set closer “Kickstart My Heart” when he seemingly dropped the lyrics to catch his breath. But the band played on and Neil figured out when to jump back in with the chorus.

The show was certainly not without great stage effects throughout. Strobes and other intense light often backed the band members, but fire was the most popular accompaniment. Whether it was a shower of sparks on “Without You,” flame geysers all evening that lit up the audience or Nikki Sixx’s flame throwing bass he used on “Shout at the Devil,” Motley Crue knows how to bring an entertaining stage show.

Mick Mars

Motley Crue guitarist Mick Mars

The usually loud-mouthed Lee let his arms do all the talking as he didn’t say a word until the final bow with all four members of the band. He actually seemed happy unlike the band’s last venture through Portland on The Tour with Kiss. Back then Lee seemed ticked off most of the night and even dismissed the crowd as not loud or boisterous enough for his liking. Whatever his perceptions were it was not the case on Saturday. The crowd was roaring and gobbled up every song except for “Muther… of the Year” which was really the only time the crowd held back a bit. Maybe because dad’s were bringing their kids?

Lee’s drum set felt a bit stripped down but he hammered away like a maniac and every beat was felt. Quite surprisingly, no 360 degree loop with Lee strapped into his drum set and soloing upside down which is a bit incredulous considering the grandiose nature of such a feat and it being the band’s farewell tour. You’d think Motley Crue would pull out all the stops.

But Motley Crue have always done things their way a fact reinforced by the band as Frank Sinatra’s “I Did it My Way” played over the loudspeakers for walk-out music. Name another act that convened a press conference to announce a signed contract to permanently end the band after the current tour.

Perhaps guitarist Mick Mars deteriorating condition influenced the band’s decision to call it quits. Mars had a hip replaced 10 years ago and at 63 years old, a decade older than the rest of his mates, it’s clear his arthritis is getting the better of him. Mars has battled ankylosing spondylitis since he was a teenager.

Except for his hands and fingers.

Mars didn’t move much more than a few yards from his spot on the stage but he ripped up and down the fret board and shredded on solos for “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” and “Dr. Feelgood” that gives that almost iconic guitar intro and is one of the great rocks songs of the 1980s. He also showcased his talents on a solo near the end of the evening.

Nikki Sixx Waves

Nikki Sixx waves to the crowd from a raised platform

Sixx, who is that rarest of bassists who doesn’t just sit in the back playing softly, simply pounded on his instrument. Prior to the band’s version of “Anarchy in the UK” Sixx provided an overview of how the band met which after hearing the story, if you haven’t already read it in the band’s tell-all book “The Dirt,” the four seemed destined to find each other. Motley Crue formed on January 17, 1981 playing “Live Wire” the first song on their first album Too Fast For Love.

That first song was one of three songs played live from the debut album. The other two “On With the Show” and the title track didn’t hold up well but primarily because Neil’s vocals were completely swallowed by the rest of the music.

As is seemingly the case with all glam rock bands, Motley Crue nailed the ballads. “Without You” showcased great vocals from Neil and of course brought out the cell phones (no more cigarette lighters!) and “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” is one of the band’s finest.

“Girls Girls Girls” of course had two scantily clad women dancing along to the music and, no, that wasn’t the only time the women appeared on stage. The opening set ended with the fantastic “Kickstart My Heart” a song that never would have been recorded had Sixx not been brought back from the dead after a heroin overdose. Does it get any better than this song? It simply rocks.

Motley Crue encored on a stage in the middle of the crowd and showed their soft side by closing the evening, quite poetically, with “Home Sweet Home” as if to say after 34 years of debauchery all they really want to do is go home.

Of course, if they all run out of money in a few years they can come back with the Just Kidding tour.

Alice Cooper Review

Alice Cooper Frankenstein

Alice Cooper’s “Feed My Frankenstein”

Alice Cooper opened the show and performed more like a headliner. He absolutely blitzed through an 11-song set in about 50 minutes. There were obvious difficulties with the stage set-up as the gates to the venue didn’t open until nearly 10 minutes before the 7 p.m. start. Cooper didn’t jump on stage until 7:40 p.m. as stage hands were busy trying to figure the various electrical wires for about 30 minutes.

He played all the classics, brought out a giant Frankenstein for what else, “Feed my Frankenstein,” a live snake on “Welcome to my Nightmare” and even had his head chopped off via guillotine. Cooper is indeed the master of Theater Rock.

Motley Crue Portland (Sleep Country Amphitheater) Setlist:

  1. Saints of Los Angeles
  2. Wild Side
  3. Primal Scream
  4. Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)
  5. Looks That Kill
  6. On With the Show
  7. Too Fast For Love
  8. Smokin’ in the Boys Room
  9. Without You
  10. Mutherf–ker of the Year
  11. Anarchy in the U.K.
  12. Dr. Feelgood
  13. Shout at the Devil
  14. Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
  15. Guitar Solo
  16. Live Wire
  17. Too Young to Fall in Love
  18. Girls, Girls, Girls
  19. Kickstart My Heart
  20. Home Sweet Home

Written By: AndrewT

Album Review: Rush Presto on SACD

In the annuls of Rush history, Presto feels like one of a couple of forgotten albums. It drops right in between what many consider the end of the keyboard era and the start of the return to a more straight approach to rock music. However, the keyboards are not absent on Presto and in fact work really well and help elevate this album to being one of the band’s best.

Presto, released in 1989, is Rush’s 12th studio album and eighth to receive the expensive (at least to the buyer) re-mastered treatment – available this week. It’s the fourth release in the Super Audio CD format by Audio Fidelity. It’s also the third Rush studio album recorded in the DDD format – digital recording, digital mixing and digital transfer. It’s hard to argue a case for an overhaul but it worked well with Counterparts  and Hemispheres in the SACD format and Roll the Bones on the 24KT Gold disk. At any rate it sure makes for a nice collectors album since it is a limited edition release.

Presto gives one of the greatest Rush album covers, certainly the most cutest, with a mound of rabbits in the foreground, a few in the background on a hill and one sticking out a hovering magician’s hat. A little known fact, Rush almost never made it to the studio and were contemplating whether to continue after the Hold Your Fire Tour.

“I was the most concerned I’d ever been,” guitarist Alex Lifeson said in an interview with Music Express magazine in February 1990. “There seemed to be an air of uncertainty as to whether we were properly motivated to record another album.”

Eventually the trio met and decided indeed they had more in the tank. In fact, the day they were supposed to start writing material for Presto, they did just that.

“It was amazing how smoothly things went,” Lifeson said noting how stressful recording an album usually gets. “We were so well prepared that we had the album written, recorded and finished a month ahead of schedule, which for us is unbelievable. “

Drummer Neil Peart wanted the title Presto for the Show of Hands live album, which documented the Hold Your Fire tour  but in a vote he lost so he wrote a song entitled “Presto” and subsequently had a studio album title to work with.

Presto opens with the catchy and cynical “Show Don’t Tell” which brings Lifeson’s guitar back front and center, as does the second tract “Chain Lightning.” The keyboards don’t stray far as “Show Don’t Tell” incorporates a great piano synth which not only elevates the song but the added melody is actually too short! The synthesizers also nicely lift the oddly named “Anagram (for Mongo).”

Hardly known for ballads, “The Pass,” touches on the subject of suicide and is as close to one from Rush as you’ll get but this one oozes raw emotion and singer Geddy Lee takes the listener into a purely contemplative state. A fan favorite, “The Pass” found life in the band’s most recent tour.

“Scars” puts the spotlight on Peart who incorporates a great percussion rhythm, very tribal-esque, throughout. The piano synths are out in force for “War Paint” albeit very background and how great is the drum fill at the end of the introduction section of the song. The title song closes out “Side A,” and gives Lifeson his due on the acoustic guitar. “Presto” the song got the live treatment during the band’s Time Machine Tour in 2011.

“Superconductor” opens “Side B” and starts with a great rock guitar riff, the previously mentioned “Anagram” is a song about what else, anagrams. “Red Tide” a song about ecology brings in a great piano intro and Lee’s almost earnest vocals bring it home. “Hand Over Fist” is an upbeat song with a great crescendo near the close. Finally, “Available Light” book-ends the album quite strongly a feat Rush manages to do album after album.

The difference between listening to Presto on SACD verses the regular issue as hardly discernible. At lower volumes even a trained ear would have difficulty in finding the re-mastered version any better. At most, there is a subtle crispness to the SACD version but really only at high volume and it doesn’t really offer any more enjoyment. Peart’s snare drum might sound a tad more punchy and Lee’s vocals a bit more brisk but other than that the two versions sound identical.

Overall, Rush strives to make complete albums rather than a few singles surrounded by fillers which is evident on this album. Presto may not boast a handful of radio friendly songs, or any really for that matter, but every track is a solid rock performance and nothing disappoints. Most of all, Lee’s vocals really shine on Presto and borderlines on elegant – if that can be said of a rock singer. “Available Light” and “The Pass” show off his range yet the entire album sounds like an assiduous approach to performing vocally.

As previously noted on past re-mastered reviews, the casual fan need not invest in the $30 CD. If not for the limited edition aspect it might not even be worth the purchase. As far as packaging, the insert offered in the SACD version is in a booklet format rather than the fold-out of the original release and the font for the lyrics is different.

Collectors and the hard-core Rush addict will surely find the album a worthy purchase but best of all, it puts the spotlight, albeit briefly, back on a great Rush album.

Tracks:

1. Show Don’t Tell
2. Chain Lightning
3. The Pass
4. War Paint
5. Scars
6. Presto
7. Superconductor
8. Anagram (For Mongo)
9. Red Tide
10. Hand Over Fist
11. Available Light

Written By: AndrewT