Friday August 31 two bands known for their legendary histories of indulgence and decadence brought what some have called this years Metal Hall of Fame tour to Riverbend for a night of blasting noise, theater, spectacle, bombast, showmanship and just plain kicking the audience’s ass. Say what you want about Motley Crue, The Sunset Strips favorite sons gave birth to the scene back in the day and besides after all the partying, car crashes, OD’s, arrests, scandals, a few educational films, personal issues and drama that has followed them since the early 80’s it’s a freaking miracle their still alive and in decent health. But after decades of access they’re proving they can still put on a breath taking show and bring it like no other. Some have questioned Vince Neil’s voice but tonight he was in fine form with a flawless high pitched, cat scratch howl. Mick Mars can still play like a madman soldiering on despite his Ankylosing Spondylitis, an uncomfortable and painful inflammatory condition that mainly affects the joints of the spine. Tonight proved that only Kiss can follow Motley Crue live in 2012.
Many things have been said about Kiss but from shear staying power they’ve earned their place in music history and the two original members continue to defy father time delivering a rock show for the ages.With due respect to Ace and Peter Kiss’s 2012 show still carries the impact, decibel levels and visual wallop with Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer on stage. People talk about Gene Simmons a lot. Musician, rock-star, actor, author, publisher, business man, father (of presumably more than 2), reality show star, and in his early 60’s a happy newlywed. ‘The Tour’ is the first time since 1982 when Motley were just young pups that both bands have shared the same stage together.
Making their first trip to the states from Cambridge England openers The Treatment came out with pomp and circumstance determined to get the crowd to c’mon and give it all they had. Vocalist Matt Jones swings himself around on stage like he’s already been on Tommy’s coaster ride once or twice. He delivers a bluesy high pitched wail of what it would sound like if Tesla’s Jeff Keith sang for The Black Crowes/Buck Cherry or Velvet Revolver. Playing hard edged tunes The Doctor, the slower future arena‘lighter’ ballad Nothing To Lose But Our Minds, Departed (with a bang bang bang) and Shake The Mountain.
Motley Crue’s curtain drop reveals a stage empty of band members but full of machinery, industrial ambiance, a big screen with a large cold steel wheel with drum kit, 4 large hydro fans, and a long cane like mic for Nikki. The show itself has enough lights, fire and pyro to make Rammstein envious. The clock starts ticking away slowly as a very apropos Ministry song plays that if you have any knowledge of their history you’ll appreciate the joke. The tick-tock slowly gains weight and deepens into a grandfather pendulum foreshadowing LA’s finest 80’s export. Two large red cloaked figures with bull horns appear on stage ushering the ‘thru the crowd’ arrival of the evenings Co-Headliners. Marching in amongst the people carrying medieval Motley Flags, lead by William Wallace… err, another red cloaked figure followed by a scantily clad hot chick the Motley Parade start up the war path. A unique rock-star entrance brushing past mingling with everyday common folk but it’s the beginning of the nights show of friendly competition/delivery as the head-liners are the forefathers of good theater.
They launch into the autobiographical Saints of Los Angeles as trapezist’s twirl on long satin sheets and puppets hammer on the drum rails. Second song in we take a trip to The Wild Side in multi colored light and some hot gyrating dancers Vince plays with.We go next door to the dark side and Shout At The Devil in a sea of floating blood clot’s, hellfire and spinning pentagrams. Out comes a young lady in a large Victorian dress, after asking if she’s single Vince asks the obvious question taking a peak as two more hot chicks emerge (it was a large outfit) one gives him a guitar while the other in S&M gear leads the properly dressed lady away. Yep, every night, Same Old Situation. You’ve seen the video. If you’ve followed them at all you know for 31 years it’s been all about the sex; so leave it to the Crue to put on a live Sex show with side stage spray gun shooters to relieve the crowd, ending in an on stage sex scene literally spelled out, and if you don’t like it Don’t Go Away Mad Just Go Away. The cascading white lights bounce off the silver tiled piano that magically appeared. After an emotional band fist bump, Tommy intro’s the monster laser light lit ballad Home Sweet Home.
Next up your average Tommy Lee drum solo with a 360 degree mini roller coaster chair, enough noise and music samples to give the hippest DJ a brain aneurysm. Plenty of split second fire visuals and…. oh yeah, Tommy Lee beating the crap out of his skins while an ego sized version of his hand pulls him up the hill. Luckiest fan of the night Roger got to ‘hookup’ and play sidekick behind Tommy on the roller coaster of love for a minute. Tommy asked if he came with his girlfriend, wife or a hooker. Next the song and video that started it all Live Wire. Followed by the Primal Scream of everyone in the pavilion ending with a cannon ball boom. It was finally time to Feelgood and call every junkie’s favorite unlicensed medical physician with straight jacket dancers dangling from the ceiling. Then the motorcycle engines roared and they played the national anthem for working girls across the country with Mick Mars Kickstarting a solo into Niki’s tale of near death experience. The Motley Crue of members and performers bowed as the madness ended (for about 30minutes anyway). Next up, a little band from New York you might’ve heard of formally called Wicked Lester.
….Anticipation builds. Then… the lights go out, the sky darken’s as the heavens open and the Gods and Deities of all things rock n roll and good taste look down upon the Southern Ohio congregation of ‘The Army’ smile, nod and wave a blessing over tonight’s show and thus another night of K(h)isstory begins.
We get a little peek at the nights horror movie hero’s walk the walk backstage. The large silver emblazed logo lights up on the big black curtain as the roar begins. CIN-CINN-ATI!!!!……. You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the world….. KISS!!! Curtain falls as the famous hydrolic platform descends with rocks living breathing comic book characters standing triumphant ready to play and annihilate with all the lights, flames and bombast you’d expect from a Kiss opening; and for the first five minutes Cincinnati becomes Detroit Rock City. For those who still had a voice left afterwards Paul told us to Shout It Out Loud. The crowd was definitely having a party but just to be sure he did a sound-check wanting to hear all the wild animals out there, because no other band gives it to you or Loves It Loud right between the eyes. Next, sirens go off, a raging inferno erupts and the whole place goes up in flames. It was already hot as hell but Kiss brought out the heat, frenzy and adrenaline of the Firehouse complete with Gene grabbing his sword spewing holy fireballs. They intro a brand new one from the upcoming Monster album, and I’m sure it’ll be a monster album called Hell or Hallelujah. Accompanied by an on screen sinful seductive fire angel and the red flame licked gates of the netherworld. Lights go out.
Then…..a low, deep hellish crunching, clanking bass-line comes out of the darkness like the hammering and riveting of steel girders taking us on an uneven, jerky, curving roller coaster ride of twisting steel and rusting iron. ‘A moment or two’ of impending silence before the ominous Demon appears standing front stage center as the fog slowly creeps towards him surveying the dripping masses, listening to their praise. He leans forward peering at the closest of his disciples as green light illuminates his armor looking like the Emerald City’s favorite dark knight, his timeless black n white image on the screen resembles an old graveyard spirit. A group of dead pirates wander the stage behind looking for a lost gold cross….., not really, but I’m sure they could find a way to pull it off if they wanted to. The Rock God’s face quivers and shakes going into conniption’s of earned evil glee as a haunting church bell gongs releasing a river of red pouring from his sinister gape the performance turning his howling face into a possessed savaged soul. After the world famous ritual was done he stood silent and still, hands folded, showing off his stained ghostly visage to our enraptured eyes, but more importantly our camera’s and cell phones delight. He sneered, smiled, the worlds most infamous tongue making a licking appearance. He posed ascending to the Riverbend’s highest plateau. The God of Thunder, Rock n Roll and lord of the wastelands played to his minions as they worshiped. Tommy Thayer played the solo as the blood spewer returned to his earth bound position.
They pull out the Love Gun and The Starchild flies solo across the human sea visiting the crowd on the other side for a few minutes returning to play a little bit of The Who as The crimson Demon points and sneers. It’s a well known fact that the Black Diamond is one of the most sacred jewels in all of metal and they want to keep it that way but they only want to hear from the leaders not the followers so don’t worry about who’s around you just keep your eyes on Mr. Stanley, the Singer on the rising drums and the cat’s eyes.
The destructive merciless War Machine was unleashed soaring over legions of robotic armies with fire breathing menace and vengeance. If the crowd wasn’t Shocked yet, they were now with Thayer stretching the feeling into a searing solo from the stage to the rafters with Singer shooting a flare gun from his kit causing some ‘stage damage.’ Next Paul asks the number one fans to Lick It Up. Then checked on our condition before calling The Doctor.
Saving the best for last they encouraged the crowd to take a little time away from the negativity of the world with a white storm of Konfetti and Rock N Roll All Night. Then the tired, sweaty, partially-totally spent and dehydrated fans muddled together, some trying to grab the wet paper particles, some being ‘helped’ out awaiting their air-conditioned vehicles. Seeing both bands for the first time I can see by reputation alone why they’ve lasted so long but to see the respective shows they put on, especially with Motley being the ‘junior’ act it’s easy to see why they keep doing it and why the fans keep coming back for more every time. The bottom line is if you haven’t seen Motley Crue or Kiss yet you just F’n need to!