I didn't find out that Friday night's Vince Neil show was a pseudo-private gig until right before he went on. A company in town had hired the Motley Crue frontman for a party and decided to sell tickets for the event, to make up some cash against Neil's fee.
Which explains the lack of promotion to an extent, and why the crowd assembled was one of the smallest I had ever seen at HOB, that wasn't a high school battle of the bands or a Joe Jonas show.
Seeing Neil solo is like getting a cut-rate Crue gig, without the rest of the boys, the pyro, the painted dancing girls, and the glares and sideways glances between the band. Instead what you get is Neil backed by a more than able band, featuring two members of Slaughter and a stellar, elastic drummer Zoltan Chaney, who alone is worth the price of admission. He's more circus than rock show.
Neil solo sets are maligned for the complaints of him "singing every other word to his songs", which is sadly true.
Oh, and he walks offstage for a good 15 minutes so his backing band can do some Zeppelin covers. When Neil did emerge from behind a bank of stacked Marshall amps, a lithe black-clad blonde came walking out behind him.
So it's as if he's saying "Oh, I'll sing you some Crue cuts that I give a shit about and still pull off, and maybe two solo songs, but beyond that I'm grabbing some titty, so deal with it." Fair enough, and I didn't come to this show with any grand expectations other than an hour of Neil tugging at his clothes, grimacing, aerobicizing, and asking us if we were all alive in between songs.
It was fun to hear "Piece Of Your Action" live since it's seldom included regular Crue sets.
But it does have to suck knowing that if Sixx:A.M. or DJ Tommy Lee showed up in the same spot on Friday night that the walls would be sweating and there would be amateur Suicide Girls from as far as Beaumont and Alvin clawing at their panties to meet Lee or Sixx in a backstage shower stall.
Mr. Neil has never been a beloved or sentimental character in the Crue lore, he's the odd man out, even though he's the lead singer, he's not treated like it.
The grumpus, the curmudgeon, the one who has never quite let his soul get laid bare in front of millions of fans like the other two. Sure, there was a tear-stained memoir last year, but it lacked the oomph of overdosing on Christmas Day or fucking Pamela Anderson on a boat, even though Neil has had his share of scrapes, sex, and dead Finnish rockers. Neil has never begged us to love him, which is admirable.
So Friday night's show wasn't a wash or a waste, it was just an affirmation that every band has a black sheep that doesn't participate in the fiction, and will keep his head down until the clock runs out, making a living doing the only thing he knows how to do, letting the leather-clad weekend warriors finsh the chorus to "Wild Side", while he pays the bills.
Personal Bias: This Neil solo song from 1993's Exposed, "You're Invited (But Your Friend Can't Come)" which was on the Encino Man soundtrack, duh.
The Crowd: "Huh-huh-huh, old people."
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SHOW ME HOW
Overheard in the Crowd: "He looks like a chipmunk."
Random Notebook Dump: For what it's worth, Neil's voice is still great, even if he doesn't always let it go full throttle as much anymore.
VINCE NEIL SET LIST
Live Wire Dr. Feelgood Piece Of Your Action Looks That Kill Tattoos & Tequila He's A Whore (Cheap Trick cover) Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S) Whole Lotta Love/Heaven & Hell/Stairway To Heaven (Zep/Dio/Zep Medley Sans Neil) Kickstart My Heart Girls, Girls, Girls Wild Side