Friday Night: Motley Crue & Poison At Toyota Center

Motley Crue, Poison, New York Dolls Toyota Center June 10, 2011

See mucho pyro, "Titty-cam" requests to Tommy Lee and lots more in our slideshow.

"This drink tastes like rank hooker ass," says the man in the club-level bar, clad in an oversized Motley Crue shirt from one of the last Crue Fest jaunts in Houston. It must be a bad batch of Bud Light coming from the taps, because he ends up replacing the prostitutey brew with a Shiner and a rum.

Welcome to Friday night at the Toyota Center, starring thousands of folks yearning for a piece of ass, a good buzz, and a taste of old-school metal mania, and three bands offering three versions of the latter.

Motley Crue, the burly and freaky metal band with a penchant for controversy; Poison, buoyed by good times (nothin' but) and the pop-idol good looks of the everlasting Bret Michaels; and the New York Dolls, a band that arguably kicked down the door for glam, punk, metal and androgyny in 1971.

The Dolls, all two of the original living members plus former David Bowie guitarist Earl Slick, opened up the proceedings at the strike of 7 p.m., with "Personality Crisis" to a sparse crowd of just a few thousand.

As a vintage Dolls fan, it's always hard to recognize this version of the band, without the departed (read: dead) Johnny Thunders, Arthur Kane and Jerry Nolan in tow, as something other than a David Johansen rock project that happens to carry the Dolls' name. It doesn't diminish the remaining power of seeing lead singer Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain onstage together, but it is a defanged model of the band.

The newer material, from their last three Dolls 2.0 albums, doesn't quite mix with the older stuff like "Pills" or "Trash," as much as they let you breathe in between the proto-glam hits. As for the band converting kids over to the golden age of glam on Friday night, they are better off sticking with the first two albums and the bootlegs.

We don't want to say that Poison played louder and faster than headliners Motley Crue, but we honestly have to. Their middle set would be the most spirited and fist-pumping of the night, and that is coming from a longtime Crue fan. Fire shot from the riser behind drummer Rikki Rockett every 30 seconds, and Bret Michaels didn't act or sing like a guy who has been cheating death recently.

What was funny about this part of the night was realizing that Michaels' VH1 show Rock of Love was the best thing to happen to Poison, besides any MTV video they could have ever made in the '80s, with fans from the show making up a good section of the crowd. Wives dragged their husbands to the show to ogle Poison, while the men got to see some Crue in return. The moms rushing the stage with iPhones to capture C.C. DeVille's guitar solos were precious.

Some cougars seemed to still figure that tanned tits and tall hair still equal a backstage pass, but almost 25 years since the explosion of hair metal, that's not true anymore. A licensed acupuncturist has a better chance of getting pre- or post-show action on a tour like this - money and profits are on the line now, as the band members now seeing themselves as businessmen than roving, vagina-crazed pirates bathing in whiskey and delousing themselves with cocaine.

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Craig Hlavaty
Contact: Craig Hlavaty