Mötley Crüe at The Woodlands, 10/11/2014
Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion October 11, 2014
Could this really be it? Was Saturday night really, honestly the last time Mötley Crüe will ever darken the door of a Texas venue? Can their claims of calling it quits really be taken seriously? Pretty hard to predict, one way or the other. After more than three decades of shocking behavior, nothing much the Crüe can do would surprise us anymore.
Vince, Nikki, Tommy and Mick swear up and down that "The Last Tour" is just that. But no one in the very large crowd that showed up to see them in The Woodlands on Saturday night seemed to be in a particularly somber mood. It felt hard to believe a band that can still reliably draw tens of thousands every time they step off a plane in this day and age has had enough of the spotlight. Doubly so when their set was preceded by Alice Cooper, the living embodiment of nostalgia-tour immortality.
No More Mr. Nice Guy Himself
Alice's act is one that Mötley Crüe has studied well over the years. In a set culled entirely from time-tested crowd pleasers, the glam-rock godfather whipped out "No More Mr. Nice Guy" almost immediately. All the familiar props were in place: the swords, the snake, the guillotine. It did not feel new, naturally, and certainly not shocking to modern sensibilities. But the band was tight, and the stage production was top-notch. Hell, giant undead puppets are cool no matter how old you are, and blood and fire never go out of style.
Likewise, Mötley Crüe's set felt well-worn, even to those of us who had never seen them in concert before. A couple of tracks from 2008's Saints of Los Angeles were the evening's only nods to a post-Nirvana world. Largely bereft of deep cuts, the band played the same collection of mega-hits, singalongs, middling singles and power ballads that they have since Dr. Feelgood.
And people still fucking loved it. Yeah, a few of the issues that have dogged the band for years, including a less-than-ideal sound mix and an out-of-breath front man, cropped up here and there. But it was hard to care much, what with all the breasts and explosions. Expertly staged old chestnuts like "Too Fast for Love" and "Dr. Feelgood" still had swagger and bite, and when Nikki Sixx unveiled a gigantic, bass-mounted flamethrower during "Shout at the Devil," the heat was so intense it was a wonder that the hairspray haze hanging over the hill didn't ignite.
A good time, sure. But for the most part, it felt like any other Mötley Crüe show -- although missing out on one last Tommy Lee solo was a disappointment. The only real acknowledgement that this could be the band's last hurrah came in the middle of the set, when Nikki Sixx, the group's high priest of mythology, took a break to recount the Crue's sordid origin story.
"This is not the end of Mötley Crüe," he told the crowd, after waxing on bygone blowjobs. "This is not good-bye. 'Cause we're going to haunt you till you fucking die."
After the stupendous orgy of spikes, flames and smoke that was the set closer, "Kickstart My Heart," the Crüe left the limelight briefly before reappearing in the middle of the seats. In the night's first intimate moment, the band squeezed together on a tiny platform to play "Home Sweet Home." As Vince Neil wailed, the band was raised up to the heavens via pneumatic lift, as if they had finally earned a respite from the gutter.
Story continues on the next page.
Perhaps one day they'll come again. In the meantime, we'll always have the memories, many of which were helpfully reenacted on Saturday.
"They weren't the best band in the world," we'll say, "or the smartest. But danged if you could kill 'em. And the fireworks were always spectacular."
Personal Bias: Too young to fall in love.
The Crowd: A sea of '80s survivors in the seats, with a few young faces mixed in -- mostly girls.
Overheard In the Crowd: "I'm really worried about that snake. It's probably terrified!"
Random Notebook Dump: Of all the band members, poor Mick Mars looked most ready to retire. The ailing guitarist's gaunt facial hair gave his face the unfortunate appearance of a lifeless Guy Fawkes mask.
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS