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Same Old Situation: Mötley Crüe Farewell Tour Off To ‘Bad’ Start

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Motley Crue live 2014 Indianapolis

The reason to love Motley Crue is not that they’re ever perfect or even poised. Really, what we loved was the chaos of the four most spectacular fuck-ups at a bad Hollywood party grouped into a quartet and propped up on stage. But in 2014, as the Crue prepares to bow out of touring, they’ve run short of charm and effort — if the first three shows of their vaunted “final tour” are an indicator.

Reports from opening night on Wednesday painted the picture of an under-rehearsed, glitch-plagued, and acrimonious Crue hobbling through a janky set. Concertgoers were treated to three songs before the onset of problems:

During “Primal Scream,” drummer Tommy Lee broke the head on his kick drum, prompting Mick Mars to fill time with a guitar solo. After five minutes of noisemaking and riffing on Jimi Hendrix’s “Little Wing” – Mars seemed hung out to dry – singer Vince Neil took the mic and apologized, tossing in a forced laugh as he told the audience it would be a few minutes before they were ready to play again. The house lights came up, and the crowd got restless.

That wasn’t the end of it. Neil blamed another sudden halt to a second breakage by Lee, though Sixx chalked it up to the band having simply forgotten how to play “On With The Show.” Whatever. It sounds like fans checked out a few songs later.

After a day off, Crue aimed to bounce back Friday in Milwaukee. That didn’t happen (though one reviewer, present for the first few songs only, called the night a victory). I was told by attendees that Neil was nearly inaudible all night — buried beneath the band and backing vocals even when he bothered to sing — and again the set was hobbled by stoppages. Mars filled in with a trio of what the Kids In The Hall would call “sound shapes” — basically dicking around with effects pedals for ten minutes — and once Sixx assumed time-killing duties with a fuck-you speech to critics and a pledge to fans. (What if they’re one and the same?)

But I was assured that when the show worked, the band was able to sound great. Even when Sixx had to depart stage right at a sprint to frantically conduct Mars to the correct guitar part — Mars reacted by arguing with both arms out in appeal for a full measure — they salvaged admirably. Fans cheered Sixx’s vocal on “Anarchy In The U.S.A.” and Lee seemed determined to do a good show with or without the accident-prone, shitty, and overburdened part of the band. Still, he might consider breaking less gear while on the clock.

Well, that’s if his gear is even present: In Milwaukee and Indianapolis (on Saturday night), Lee was forced to forgo his “Cruecifly” drum-coaster thinger as it exceeded venue weight limits. (Note to Crue production and booking teams: Email each other during planning stages for the next farewell tour.) But again, this was the least of the band’s problems on night three. Marred by another gassed outing from Neil, the festival of facepalms continued right to what should’ve been a tearful finale for band and fans:

The show ended with “Home Sweet Home” performed on a satellite stage at the pavilion’s soundboard. While the crowd and band shared a nice moment during this signature ballad, the song wasn’t a highlight for Mars. Neil, Sixx and Lee appeared to be on the brink of flipping out when Mars mangled his guitar cue.

So okay, maybe Motley Crue focussed on the palaver and pyrotechnics of their big farewell and overlooked the necessities like rehearsals and functional equipment. Maybe they’re unable to force Neil to get in shape for the benefit of paying customers. Maybe they’re in denial, unable to fathom or accept the end to all the adulation for their bad behavior and needy antics, and as such they half-assed their final statement. Whatever the case, let’s pull for them to pull it together. They deserve it. Fans deserve it. And if things don’t start improving, they may need another farewell tour to set it right.

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