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At 9 p.m., Neil descends onto the Mayan's stage on a chandelier suspended from a catwalk. He's decked out in a silver-sequined shirt and star-spangled spandex. The band launches into "Afraid," the heaviest, most tuneful single on Swine, and Neil struts and whirls about the stage in true rock-diva fashion. Despite an obvious absence of youthful bravado and outrageous theatrics, Motley Crue remains the same old band it was five years ago. Tommy Lee is still banging out the same tired backbeats, guitarist Mick Mars still stands in one place looking white as a corpse, and Nikki Sixx is still delightfully energetic. Midway through the set, Neil calls out to the crowd, "People, we're the same fuckin' boneheads who played at the Troubadour 10 years ago. We just have more tattoos!"
Then an awkward, embarrassing moment occurs. As soft, violet beams caress the stage, Lee seats himself at a nine-foot concert grand wearing skintight, black-leather briefs, then proceeds to plunk out the melody for "Brandon," a five-hankie ballad about his 11-month-old son. While Lee fishes for the right notes, a lone violinist plays a soft melody behind a rice-paper screen.
Fortunately, the Crue has the good sense to follow up by ripping out classics like "Wild Side" and "Dr. Feelgood," proving it hasn't gone completely to mush.
The Q&A session that follows the show is totally lame, a chance for groupies to gather MTV-style on sofas onstage and ask stupid questions such as, "How often does Nikki Sixx have sex?" Sixx, now a father of four, looks cool and calm in striped overalls and a cowboy hat. "If management would give us a day off," he replies, "maybe I'd have a little more."
And when someone asks, "How does it feel to be a reunion band?" Neil grabs the nearest microphone and roars: "Fuck you. We took a vacation from each other and picked up where we left off!"
Clearly, Motley Crue has not reinvented itself. It's only reunited.