Explosions, Snakes, Rollercoasters, Beheadings: Yup, Motley Crue and Alice Cooper Came to Town
Motley Crue continued to fine-tune what's already their most explosive, impressive stage show yet during their farewell tour's July 8 stop in Columbus, Ohio. Their 19-song set featured all the expected hits and a few welcome rarities, delivered in powerful form amidst a never-ending parade of explosions and dancing girls.
It's hard to think of another band in rock history who has put as much time, creativity and money into changing their stage show so much from tour to tour as Motley Crue. The design this time was clean, expansive and uncluttered, offering clear sight lines for everybody in the packed 18,000-seat venue. But that doesn't mean it was boring. Over the course of the night, different platforms, lighting effects (and of course, an insane amount of pyrotechnics) were employed to keep things visually stimulating for each song. One particular 'firewall" effect had us briefly making sure we knew where the closest exit was, but soon enough we gratefully realized it was just part of the show.
The band sounded fantastic and tight right from the opening blast of 'Saints of Los Angeles' and 'Wild Side.' As has been the case in recent years, singer Vince Neil seemingly chooses stage marshal duties over singing every word sometimes, but the enthusiastic crowd happily filled in for him. The band had changed up the set list a bit compared to previous shows on the tour, which led to Neil briefly introducing the wrong song a couple of times. But he had a very good sense of humor about it, and it was nice to see that this behemoth of a stage production was still run by humans and not computers.
Tommy Lee's massive drum solo is just as great as you've heard it is, but another set list change -- going straight into Mick Mars' guitar solo instead of 'Shout at the Devil' as on previous nights -- seemed to rob the show of some momentum. Then again, after flipping end over end for 10 minutes while hanging from a ceiling, maybe even rock's most daring drummer needs a minute to clear his head.
After a "holy s---!" four song closing set combo of 'Live Wire,' 'Too Young to Fall in Love,' 'Girls, Girls, Girls' and 'Kickstart My Heart,' the encore served as another reminder of just how visually inventive Motley Crue are in concert. With smoke from the pyro still hanging in the air, the group marched to a smaller stage in the back of the venue while carrying large flashlights whose beams cut through the thick air. It was a simple but very dramatic and tasteful effect, and a nice way to show comradery with the fans.
Of course, everybody knew 'Home Sweet Home' was going to be the last song Motley Crue played on their farewell tour, but as the small stage rose up towards the ceiling and the band soaked in the love from the crowd, it actually succeeded in being a real moment rather than a calculated exercise. I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the crowd who flashed back to the first time they ever saw the band live, and I bet I'm not the only one who hopes to get one more chance.
Watch Alice Cooper Perform 'Hello Hooray' Live
As for Alice Cooper? Well, what's to say? The main is a genius, a legend and a hero who could easily coast on his laurels -- but through charisma and hard work instead remains one of the most vital and exciting stage performers around. His opening set was absolutely incredible. The band was awesome, his voice was marvelous and his stage presence simply perfect. For each song he'd choose one simple prop -- a cane, a sword filled with dollar bills, a straightjacket -- and use it to further flesh out what's already one of the most impressive and underrated collection of anthems in rock history.
Every wag of his finger, every step, every vocal inflection had a purpose and accomplished that purpose exactly as designed -- showcasing his three guitar players, pointing out the serious social commentary underneath the ghoulish humor of his lyrics, or accentuating a drum fill. I know this sounds like a fanboy writing his first concert review (or like Alice kidnapped my child), but anybody who was there can tell you that's exactly how well this all went down. You'd be a fool to miss out on any chance you get to see Alice Cooper live -- who knows, one of these days even he may say goodbye!
Motley Crue Set List -- Columbus, Ohio -- July 8, 2014:
'Saints of Los Angeles'
'Same Ol' Situation'
'Looks That Kill'
'On With the Show'
'Too Fast for Love'
'Smokin' in the Boys Room'
'Motherf---er of the Year'
'Anarchy in the U.K.'
'Shout at the Devil'
'Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)'
'Too Young to Fall in Love'
'Girls, Girls, Girls'
'Kickstart My Heart'
'Home Sweet Home'
Alice Cooper Set List -- Columbus, Ohio -- July 8, 2014
'No More Mr. Nice Guy'
'Under My Wheels'
'Billion Dollar Babies'
'Welcome to My Nightmare'
'Feed My Frankenstein'
'Ballad of Dwight Fry'
'Killer / I Love the Dead'