Concert Review: Mötley Crüe and Alice Cooper – Bell Centre, Montreal – August 24 2015

Mötley Crüe’s Final Tour stopped at the Bell Centre last night to bid farewell to their Montreal fans. The band pulled out all the stops for this final concert, with more explosions and flame throwers than I’ve ever seen at a rock show, and an elaborate stage that gave every fan their money’s worth.

They hit the stage in force with ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’, complete with two scantily clad beauties dancing and singing on stage. Right there you could tell this would be a good show. Mötley Crüe isn’t exactly a great live band, and ever since they reunited in 2005, their performances had been growing progressively worse. But there was nothing half-assed last night, and they followed with a rousing version of ‘Wild Side’, reversing the album order. One thing these guys could do though, is write a great song, and the show lined up their best material one after another. ‘Primal Scream’, ‘Same Ol’ Situation’ and ‘Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)’ followed, to the delight of the more than 10,000 fans in attendance. I could have done without ‘Motherfucker of the Year’, or their weak attempt at establishing punk credibility by covering the Sex Pistols’ ‘Anarchy in the UK’, but every song had the crowd singing and shouting in communion with the band.

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Using Carl Orff’s ‘Carmina Burana’ as an intro, Tommy Lee’s drum solo made use of the imposing structure that spanned from the stage to the mixing board. His drum started to rise along the rails, and as he was playing, started spinning around! I’m not a big fan of drum solos (I once tagged them as one of the 7 rock concert clichés that need to die), but a drum solo on a spinning roller coaster has to be seen. Seriously, drum solos are over. Tommy Lee won.

Mötley Crüe - August 24, 2015 (photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)
Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee defying gravity – August 24, 2015 (photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)

His bandmate Mick Mars followed with a guitar solo that was more noise than anything, a shame since Mars has consistently played great on their studio albums. ‘Saints of Los Angeles’, ‘Live Wire’, ‘Dr Feelgood’ (where Neil started struggling vocally) and ‘Kickstart My Heart’ bookended a terrific night of music. For their only encore, they moved to a smaller stage where they played their ballad ‘Home Sweet Home’, a bittersweet ode to coming off the road that couldn’t have been more appropriate.

It was loud, it was lewd, it was hot; it was the very essence of Mötley Crüe, who are going out with a bang, literally.

Mötley Crüe - August 24, 2015 (photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)
Mötley Crüe – August 24, 2015 (photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)

They were preceded by another legend, one who’s not ready to get off the road: Alice Cooper. His one hour set ran through all his classic songs, from ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ to ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’ to the final song ‘School’s Out’ (with snippets of Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall Part 2’), with the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs. As he leaned on his crutch and sang ‘I’m Eighteen’, you could believe that in his heart, he IS eternally 18. He was backed by an amazing band of young guns, whose enthusiasm and energy cover for what the 67 year old singer might have lost. He brought out his snake for ‘Go to Hell’, threw (fake) money in the crowd during ‘Billion Dollar Babies’ and diamond necklaces during ‘Dirty Diamonds’. And of course, he ended up in a straight jacket (courtesy of an evil nurse played by his wife) and then, in the guillotine! For the last few years, he’s been offering a show that is more or less an anthology of the most classic bits he’s done throughout his career, and the crowd loved it, giving him an ovation worthy of his stature as the final chord rang out.

Alice Cooper - August 24, 2015 (photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)
Alice Cooper – August 24, 2015 (photo by Jean-Frederic Vachon)

They were both preceded on stage by ‘The Cringe’ from New York. Led by singer John Cusimano (lawyer by day, husband to TV cooking show host Rachael Ray by night, rocker during the weekends, I guess), they offered decent rock songs, with a stage presentation straight out of 1986. Cusimano played it up to the 20,000 screaming fans in his head, clearly, as he pointed uselessly at fans in the audience, as if they were screaming teenage girls at a Beatles concert. Their set only really took off when they played a snippet of Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’, before unfortunately going back to their own material. They finished with a cover of Thin Lizzy’s ‘Jailbreak’, where Cusimano went through he crowd high fiving anyone who didn’t just get out of his way. Both headliners should just have played an extra 15 minutes.



Jean-Frederic Vachon
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