Arguably the highlight of the 2015 touring season, Motley Crue’s ‘All Bad Things Must Come to An End’ tour commemorated the last time the veteran hard rock group would head out on the road. As though this occasion wouldn’t be memorable enough, the bulk of Motley Crue’s final tour was supported by iconic shock rocker Alice Cooper, such as the group’s final visit to Anaheim’s Honda Center on December 22.
Alice Cooper brought familiar and casual listeners alike across memory lane with a set of thirteen songs, which despite the abbreviated performance managed to convey an extensive selection of tracks from throughout his career.
The stage is set, with the curtain bearing Cooper’s distinctive eyes staring out into the darkened crowd while the Vincent Price introduction from the ‘Welcome to My Nightmare’ album echoes out, exciting the audience. The curtain drops, revealing the backing lineup of guitarists Tommy Henriksen, Nita Strauss and Ryan Roxie, bassist Chuck Garric and drummer Glen Sobel. Alice walks out beneath a shower of fireworks and begins belting out “The Black Widow,” before trading his cape to instead twirl his cane on “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”
Applause resonates throughout the arena as the stage once again darkens before the band heads into “Under My Wheels,” where Cooper’s trio of guitarists each shredded out their guitar parts individually upon the stage riser. At 67, age is just a number for Cooper as he fist pumps through his trademark crutch for “I’m Eighteen,” just before smacking a whip towards his band members for “Billion Dollar Babies.”
Anyone who has attended an Alice Cooper show knows the only transition between songs is the dimming of stage lights, with each song transitioning into the other to tell a story. This became the case as Cooper emerged from the darkness, twirling beads and tossing them into the audience for “Dirty Diamonds.” The song was rounded out by a massive Sobel drum solo, which concluded by raising drum sticks which shoot out pyrotechnics.
Following the natural onstage beheading, accompanied by a brief rendition of “I Love the Dead,” Alice amazingly returns in one piece wearing black tails and top hat for “School’s Out.” Massive balloons were shot out into the crowd and bubbles cluttered the air as Cooper and company included a snippet of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” midway. The fans were clapping, cheering and yelling for an encore; Cooper had won this crowd over and could have served as headliner.
Cooper stated that this was their last show on tour with Motley Crue and that after nearly two years and one hundred and ninety shows, he wanted to extend his thanks to Motley Crue and their staff for bringing them along for such a monumental run. Upon thanking the crowd and his own crew, the stage began to shift and the energy began to adjust accordingly.
While the crowd began to cheer for Motley Crue, the song “So Long, Farewell” by Roger and Hammerstein was pumped out into the arena. The lights begin to flash to the sound of a heartbeat, before a revved up motorcycle and the shadows of Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee appear, arms stretched, horns up. Motley Crue were ready and willing to say farewell to Anaheim, doing so with the opening track “Girls Girls Girls.”
Vince Neil runs out onstage to the cue of fireworks and flames, soon accompanied by two female backup vocalists. The musicianship was strong and the energy was high as the band turned into “Wild Side” and “Primal Scream,” wasting little time between songs. Neil throws on a guitar for a few chords on “Same Ol’ Situation” and “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away),” where the crowd nearly overwhelmed the Crue frontman as they yelled along to the anthemic refrains.
The show wasn’t without it’s fair share of heartfelt stories and goodbyes from the members of Motley Crue; Sixx was the first to have the spotlight, who shared a motivational speech stemming from his childhood. Sixx shared a tale about how he continuously stole his grandfather’s pocket knife every night when he came home from work, despite always getting reprimanded every time. Then one day his grandfather came home and handed Sixx his first knife, which the bassist showed was strapped to his left leg that night onstage. The moral of the story? No matter what anyone tells you, keep doing what you want over and over again and you’re going to make it come true.
Stealing isn’t exactly the best lesson to teach a crowd filled with thousands of rowdy heavy metal fans, but the crowd ate it up as the band ran into a cover of the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK.” After just catching the breath, the fans saw Sixx run out with his flamethrower bass guitar, igniting the pentagram on his hanging mic to the theme of “Shout at the Devil” and “Louder Than Hell.” This cues Lee to embark of his signature Cruecify drum roller, which spun 360 degrees over the length of the crowd along with massive explosions and flames. “Where the fuck can I get a ‘Hell yeah’?” Lee exclaimed.
Within all the smoke, haze, and steam from the pyrotechnics, you hear this beautiful guitar. Mick Mars emerges for his guitar solo, and whether he is shredding or channeling the softer mellow side, the tone he gets out of that Strat is astonishing. Mars proves he’s the backbone of this band as he cranks out the intros to “Saints of Los Angeles,” “Live Wire” and “Dr. Feelgood.” Ending the set with “Kickstart My Heart,” Vince and Nikki rise above the crowd on cherry pickers as the remainder of their arsenal – flames, fireworks, explosions – are set off. “It feels fucking weird to be saying goodbye,” Tommy says as the band takes a bow.
As Motley Crue heads to the satellite stage in the middle of the arena for the encore, Tommy Lee sits down at the piano while Vince, Nikki and Mick gather around. They thank the fans for the years of support, stating they are home as Tommy starts the final song, “Home Sweet Home.” I don’t think there was a dry eye in the crowd as you see photos of the past thirty-four years shown on the monitors. “We’re Motley Fucking Crue!” Neil yells out before the band walks out of Anaheim one last time.
This may be the end of Motley Crue as a band, but each member has other projects in the works, Nikki Sixx with his band Sixx:A.M., Vince Neil with his established solo career, Mick Mars’ tentative solo project and Tommy Lee, well, he has something up his sleeve that we’ll certainly hear more about in the future. One thing is for certain: Motley Crue put on one hell of a show.