A few things are guaranteed at a KISS/Mötley Crüe concert-- girls, girls, girls, rocking 'n rolling all night, and lots of pyrotechnics. The goal seems to be sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll, and both bands have done enough of all of those things to last the audience a lifetime.
Mötley Crüe made a grand entrance with some weird Druid ceremony, tearing right into "Saints of Los Angeles." Their set started out solid, serving up the loud, fast, and dangerous performance that all of our mothers warned us about.
At times, there was so much going on onstage that it was difficult to figure out where we were supposed to be watching, especially since the video cameras weren't working. The band rocked out in the thick of scantily clad singers/dancers (they did pitch in vocals for a few songs), a girl on stilts, Tommy Lee's circular rollercoaster drum mechanism, and a mess of pyrotechnics.
For both Mötley Crüe fans and their noobie children alike, the band's performance didn't leave any time for the audience to get bored, though there were some opportunities to get angry. Vince Neil's vocals grew sloppier as the show progressed, but the spectacle was enough to (mostly) distract from that. Some fans grew impatient with Lee's extended electronica drum solo, which was actually really cool for a few minutes.
The drum solo came after "Home Sweet Home," which had Lee sitting at a piano decked out like a disco ball. The other three band members joined him, putting their fists together atop the piano like some hair metal super hero team assembling to help everyone find their very own porn star girlfriend. The ballad ended up being a nice change of pace from Crüe's rocking set.
The spotlight continued to be on Tommy Lee as he drummed along to a medley of EDM music, including "Waters of Nazareth" by Justice and Skrillex's "Bangarang." Lee's drum kit began to teeter back and forth, and eventually brought him to the top of the circle- like a suspenseful carnival ride- as he drummed upside down for a bit. The schtick continued as he invited a blondeMötley Crüe shirt-wearing girl named Tracy to sit in a chair next to him and "ride" the drums.
Lee made some suggestive small talk about her being single, and a guy near me shouted "Want some hepatitis?" The upside down drumming was cool, but it didn't need to go on for so long, especially since I'm willing to bet that most of last night's fans probably don't care for Skrillex.
Vince Neil had his obligatory creepy old man moment while talking about the oh-so-subtly named "Sex," which is his "favorite thing in the world." He turned around to show off the patch on his back, revealing two strippers and "I heart single moms."
Sex appeal was definitely a recurring theme in their set, with the female back up dancers twirling around on chains hanging high above the band, and prancing around like evil/naughty nurses during "Dr. Feelgood." The whole scene played out like what is probably the cliché teenage boy fantasy, but it was pretty entertaining.
There were quite a few kids in last night's crowd, which was a weird sight to see. Every time someone in Mötley Crüe spoke, "fuck" was said every third word or so. The band finished their set with "Kickstart my Heart" and Tommy Lee prompting the crowd to shout along to "When I say fuck, you say you." Looks like the kids learned a new word last night.
KISS could very well have had the most epic stage entrance I've ever seen. All of the spectacle seen in Detroit Rock City came across during the opening song, as Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, and Tommy Thayer (the other Spaceman) confidently stood atop a platform that was lowered down with a bunch of fireworks. They played "Detroit Rock City" and the crowd sang along and did everything the song instructed them to do.
KISS has quite the reputation for its spectacle, so I was expecting the band to put Mötley Crüe's show to shame. The opposite ended up being true. KISS did everything they were supposed to do, and looked and sounded good for a band that's been around for over 40 years and has half of its original line up, though there's that make up and sitting at a distance certainly doesn't hurt.
It was disappointing to see animations of fire and sirens used for "Firehouse" when the band had such an impressive entrance. Parts of the audience seemed to be losing interest, with some fans sitting down and others leaving. Yeah, it was super hot, but it was strange to see more and more empty seats midway through KISS' set.
Don't get me wrong KISS had its moments of pure rock abandon, the first being during "Detroit Rock City." The second was Gene Simmons being his demon self for the intro to "God of Thunder." He played a bass solo as blood came out of his mouth and he was carried up to a platform, where he played above the band for the song.
During "Love Gun," Paul Stanley ziplined out to the middle of the crowd to rock out. The last super cool moment was the closing song, but aside from that, KISS' set was underwhelming compared to Motley Crue. The band still knows how to rock out and party hard, and the performance was good, but it wasn't nearly as over the top as I had expected.
The encore helped wake up the semi-uninterested/overheated crowd as guysperformed "Black Diamond" and everyone who stuck around was rewarded with "I Wanna Rock 'n Roll All Night" as a closing song. The band had their "grand finale" with pinwheel fireworks attached to the new Cat Man (Eric Singer)'s drumkit and the confetti canons that showered the audience throughout most of the song.
Stanley wrapped things up by swinging his guitar in circles. An explosion went off every time he faked smashing the guitar. He walked away, and just as I thought he wasn't going to do it, he turned around and abruptly smashed it in one fell swoop.
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: KISS and Mötley Crüe at Ashley Furniture Homestore Pavilion. Personal Bias: I enjoyed seeing Mötley Crüe open for Aerosmith in 2006. These guys really need to headline. The Crowd: I think the above picture sums it up nicely. Random Notebook Dump: Simmons' blood trick is like seeing a tame version of GWAR. Better than: Fourth of July.
Kiss Setlist: Detroit Rock City Shout it Out Loud I Love it Loud Firehouse Hell or Hallelujah? War Machine Shock Me God of Thunder Love Gun Lick it Up Black Diamond Cold Gin I Wanna Rock 'n Roll All Night
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Mötley Crüe Setlist: Saints of Los Angeles Wild Side Shout at the Devil Same Old Situation Sex Don't Go Away Mad Just Go Away Home Sweet Home Drum Solo Livewire Primal Scream Dr. Feelgood Girls, Girls, Girls Kickstart My Heart