Mötley Crüe - LIVE: Wembley Arena, London 2015

The Final Tour
November 6 (20:50 - 22:50)
Capacity 12,000

Europe hasn't really been fairly represented on Mötley Crüe's farewell tour. After starting the tour on home soil in July 2014 and devoting four full months to shows in the US and Canada, it took until June 2015 for them to play any European shows at all; just three festival appearances.

The full tour was announced later, but even that only had 12 dates on it, four of which were in England and three in Germany. They will cease touring on New Year's Eve having not bid farewell to many major European countries, including Spain, France, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, and Norway. South America was similarly badly treated, with just two shows in Mexico and one in Brazil. By stark contrast, by the end of the tour, the US and Canada will have hosted a combined 130 out of 161 Final Tour shows, with some A-market cities seeing them twice. As an American band it's natural they would play more shows at home than elsewhere, but as a globally popular band, to this extent was disproportionate and too many places were never given the chance to see the band for the last time. To make such a song and dance as they have over the final tour, and then miss out so many fans from the experience, is pretty bold.

Inviting rock legend Alice Cooper along for not just the US shows, but most of the world tour, was a bold move as well, given his reputation for a flawless live show, but on this occasion it was more of an Alice-by-numbers performance. Maybe he's tired of playing the same truncated set (he gets to use all the trusted props, but it's almost the exact same set as when he opened for Iron Maiden on their Maiden England US tour in 2012 - three songs changed), but this time felt less like the well-rehearsed rock show the band delivers when they headline, and more like the matinee performance of a play. That's in comparison to Cooper's own lofty standards though. He's still Alice Cooper, so was still great, and certainly wowed a few unknowing Crüe fans into the bargain.

Alice Cooper at half-strength still leaves Mötley with a tough act to follow, especially based on the lacklustre effort they made at the Summer festivals, but for the most part they were equal to it, and in some respects, they were better.

The stage set-up was broadly the same as in the Summer, with the huge metal spikes either side of Tommy Lee's drum riser housing giant flame throwers, and various other fire-dispensing devices strewn around the stage, but with one major difference: the enormous metalwork comprising Lee's already-famous "drum-coaster". Just seeing it in the flesh had many eager with anticipation to witness it in action. But there was plenty of show to go before that moment would arrive, and the show itself, more a spectacle than just a concert, was the proverbial good, bad, and the ugly.

In reverse order then, the ugly: Mick Mars's guitar solo. Mick's health problems are well documented, and everyone is aware of the constant struggle he has just moving around as a sufferer of the bone condition ankylosing spondylitis, but fans are equally aware that it has not affected his guitar playing, and he is still capable of peeling out the solos in the band's songs brilliantly. Why, then, does his solo spot have to be such a noisy mess of distortion and effects when minutes later he's playing the solo to Saints of Los Angeles perfectly? He does himself no justice there.

The bad refers to the setlist. It's the final tour, and therefore the set should be all hits, all the time. Original hits too. This is meant to be a celebration between band and fans of Mötley Crüe's music. Yet, instead of fan-favourite classics like Too Young To Fall In Love, Without You and Too Fast For Love, all of which are on their Greatest Hits CD, or even Red Hot, On With The Show, Knock 'Em Dead Kid, or any number of other older songs, there were two covers (neither of which were their excellent version of Helter Skelter), and the generally unpopular Mutherfucker of The Year. Some dates even missed out on Live Wire, but thankfully in London they added it back in. Of course most of the rest of the set was packed with undeniable hits, but they could have delivered so much more in that respect.

The good however was everything else. The show itself was spectacular, with every song punctuated in some way by pyro, and even much maligned front-man Vince Neil enjoying a strong performance, in better form than he has been for many, many years. He struggled a little on the first few songs, and it seemed at the beginning like he was going to have another typically-torrid evening of missing out lyrics and cracking on high notes, but when they got to Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.), he got into his stride and from that point on he was very good indeed. Even his screams were excellent, though he did still let the crowd (or backing singers Sofia Toufa and Allison Kyler) sing a little too often - particularly at the start on Girls, Girls, Girls and Wild Side.

Most impressive of all though was the sheer feat of engineering involved in making Lee's drum-coaster a reality. The structure itself, designed to resemble a roller-coaster, is a huge metal track which runs in a wave-like pattern from either side of Tommy's riser up to the ceiling, over the heads of the front half of the crowd on the floor, to a mini-stage in the middle of the arena where the sound desk would normally be. Impressive in itself, but the mechanism which carries Lee over that track while he plays his drum solo is where the real engineering is. With Lee strapped into a chair like an airline pilot (much like Joey Jordison's old rotating riser) his entire riser is lifted off the stage and carried over the track, being rotated the whole time, all the way out to the mini-stage, and back again. Naturally this happens very slowly, and the solo itself is less a drum solo, more drum accompaniment to a mash-up track, but the whole thing was no less awe-inspiring for it.

After a few more hits, including two of Mars's finest riffs in Saints of Los Angeles and Dr. Feelgood, the show finishes back out on the mini-stage for an acoustic version of Home Sweet Home featuring Lee first on piano, and then on a small drum kit. It's a much better finale than in the Summer when Neil basically sang the song accapella (which was as bad as it sounds), and having the band say their goodbyes in the middle of the near-capacity crowd instead of in front of it seemed very fitting.

It's a little ironic then that as the band fast approaches the end of its touring life, they are performing better than they have in a decade. The final shows are not to be missed, but obviously only fans in the US have that chance now.

“ more a spectacle than just a concert ”

Alice Cooper setlist: The Black Widow / No More Mr. Nice Guy / Under My Wheels / I'm Eighteen / Billion Dollar Babies / Poison / Dirty Diamonds / Go to Hell / Feed My Frankenstein / Ballad of Dwight Fry / I Love The Dead / School's Out

Mötley Crüe setlist: Girls, Girls, Girls / Wild Side / Primal Scream / Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.) / Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) / Smokin' In The Boys' Room / Looks That Kill / Mutherfucker of The Year / Anarchy In The U.K. / Shout At The Devil / Louder Than Hell / Drum Solo / Guitar Solo / Saints of Los Angeles / Live Wire / Dr. Feelgood / Kickstart My Heart // Home Sweet Home

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2015, Gigs, Hard/Heavy Rock, ,

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