Friday, Feb. 17, 2012 | 9:36 p.m.
At one point during Tuesday night’s Motley Crue concert at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel, lead singer and Las Vegas-resident Vince Neil asked if anyone in the audience liked the band’s older material.
Well, that’s not exactly true.
The way he phrased the question included words that rhyme with ruther rucker and zit, but the point was the same: This was going to be much more than just a greatest hits show.
That’s when the band’s fans who can tell you who Allister Fiend is went crazy. Including me.
There aren’t many assignments in a journalist’s life where knowing the lyrics to every song on 1983’s “Shout at the Devil” or knowing what Nikki Sixx’s real name is makes you the perfect candidate to write about something.
That’s why being asked to write about what a hard-core Crue fan who owns all of the band’s albums and has the hearing loss to prove it, thinks about Motley’s current Vegas residency shows was treated like the gift from the heavy metal gods that it was.
Yes, all of the songs that even a casual fan of the Crue would want to hear are played, both well and loudly, during the shows at the Hard Rock.
And even though these Vegas shows are basically built on the foundations of both the set list and staging used for the most recent tour with Poison, so many other things are going on during these shows that, as Sun columnist John Katsilometes put it in his review of opening night, and as any Motley fan would appreciate, this is “not the same ol’ situation.”
So, here are the five reasons why if you own one of the 20,000 original copies of the Crue’s first album you should be jumping in the car and driving to Vegas right now to catch one of the band’s final two performances at the Hard Rock.
Yes, Crue shows have always been events, but not like this. This one is a completely immersive experience.
From the moment you walk out of the parking garage, the Hard Rock’s elevators are covered with signs for the band’s concerts. The casino’s main bar has been redecorated in a circuslike manner, covered with banners for the shows. The casino’s waitresses are wearing Motley Crue shirts — and little else.
Outside of The Joint, some people are dressed as maniacal clowns, while others are on stilts. Even those who take your tickets or walk you to your seat are dressed as if they worked at a circus. To a hard-core fan, none of it feels weird or contrived. It simply feels Crue.
Acoustic guitars? At a Motley Crue show?
A little less than midway through the show, a circular stage drops from the top of The Joint into about the middle part of the seating area. The band then comes out to play three songs, including an acoustic version of “Don’t Go Away Mad.”
It’s surprising and it’s cool. It might not have worked if the band stayed up on the main stage, but coming out on that smaller stage in a place as intimate as the 3,500-seat Joint sets a different tone.
And once the stage begins to rise back up with the band on it, the mix of the visuals and the music really makes for something that feels like you’re seeing something special.
A triple dose of Mick
Though a big guitar solo from Mick Mars is as much a part of a Crue concert as Vince Neil’s love of the English language, or at least the parts of the language that involve swearing, this solo is one that feels uniquely Motley.
Without giving away what happens — though a quick YouTube search would show you — it’s one of the highlights in a show filled with highlights.
Motley meets Cirque
Motley Crue has always put on high-production shows, but this sets the bar even higher. The staging used during the Crue/Poison tour, which is what the resident shows at the Hard Rock were built on, was already both massive and creative.
Then add the middle stage for the acoustic set, a flying apparatus for Vince that takes him over the crowd, a piano that slowly drops from the rafters for “Home Sweet Home,” aerialists and dancers, and too many other new things — some big, some small — to mention.
For those Crue fans not from Las Vegas, that’s the name of the venue at the Hard Rock Hotel, not what they might normally associate with that word. And it’s an amazing place to see a live show.
It’s one of the smallest places in the nation that can still hold all of the production elements of a full-blown arena tour show, only with amazing sound quality.
This place wasn’t built to have a rodeo one night, a hockey game the next night and a rock concert on the weekend. It was built for live music. That’s it.
Seeing this level of production in such an intimate venue makes the Motley residency show worth the ticket price alone.