This year, an epic 35 year run in music is coming to its inevitable end, with Mötley Crüe making their last ever stop in Sydney at the Allphones Arena. The glam four-piece was accompanied by legend in his own right, Alice Cooper.
There are few other ways to describe Cooper’s opening act as aptly as ‘fucking insane’. The show was equal parts macabre theatre and hard-hitting rock and roll. Opening with “Department of Youth”, brandishing a microphone stand made of bloodied crutches, Cooper pranced around a set of disembodied corpses. During “Billion Dollar Babies”, Cooper wielded a sword pierced through stacks of money, which he threw over the eager audience. Clearly a massive fan of audience interaction, Cooper also delivered countless pearl necklaces (the literal kind, guys) during “Dirty Diamonds”.
During “Feed My Frankenstein”, Cooper was strapped to an operating table and disappeared in smoke, only to reemerge as a twelve foot puppet-esque Frankenstein. Amidst all the props and theatrics, the highlight of the performance was, “Ballad of Dwight Fry” within which the morbid front-man was strapped into a straight jacket, only to escape and be convincingly decapitated on stage. But let me be clear: the show was not all spark and no talent; Cooper sounds as good as he ever has at 67 and was accompanied by three guitarists who competed in tri-dueling guitar solos, the most notable of which was Nita Strauss.
After this performance, I had to feel sorry for Mötley Crüe. There was no way a four-piece on their last legs could possibly outshine Cooper’s spectacle. Unfortunately, I was right. Opening with their newest song, “Saints of Los Angeles”, the band played mainly classic hits peppered with nostalgic monologues. “We were a bunch of drunk teenagers out in Hollywood and we said ‘let’s make some fucking music’, and we’re still here.” Vince told the crowd. That much, I’ll give them credit for — and keep in mind, I am a fan of Mötley Crüe — but it was clear the band’s heart just wasn’t in it any more.
The audience got very little from Nikki Sixx; Tommy Lee‘s 4/4 “Cruecifly” up-side-down drum solo was all spectacle; and Vince Neil, quite honestly, just couldn’t hit the notes like he used to. During their encore of “Home Sweet Home”, the band was but a shadow of their former selves. But the fact that Mick Mars, who has been struggling with Ankylosing Spondylitis since the age of seventeen, is even still up on stage shredding it out at 64 is extremely impressive.