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Mötley Crüe | June 15, 2011

Mötley Crüe brought the traveling celebration of their 30th Anniversary to San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium supported by Poison (celebrating their 25th anniversary) and the legendary New York Dolls.  Things kicked off with a late start Wednesday night …  at 6:50 pm when the New York Dolls were set to take the stage, the doors still hadn’t even been opened yet.  Probably good news for the Dolls because that meant it afforded them the opportunity to school a respectably-sized crowd of early arrivers and stragglers with a little primer on the roots of the genre courtesy of founding members Sylvain Sylvain (guitar) David Johansen (vocals) whose Jagger-like swagger and on-stage flamboyance should have left no doubt who put the original “glam” in Glam-A-Geddon.

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With a quick stage-swap that made up some of the delay, next up was Poison.  I know they have a lot of fans of their music and people were certainly getting into the set, but objectively it was all wrong.  Let me break it down:

  • Pumping in pre-set music to get the crowd amped for the impending band is not at all uncommon, but choosing GNR’s Welcome to the Jungle definitely raised an eye brow or two as an unusual choice.  Normally I would shrug it off but …
  • … when it’s followed, not by the band taking the stage, but instead by a Brett Michael infomercial promoting an event in Florida … every ounce of remaining cred just left the stage.  Of course you’re thinking that the band will finally be coming out, but no …
  • … ANOTHER intro song, this time AC/DC.  Certainly a better choice than Guns and Roses but for Christ’s sake, you just burned 8 minutes of your set time with music that I can listen to at home for free without commercials! Finally the band takes the stage and things will only get better, right?
  • Not so much.  After his health problems last year, Brett looked none the worse for wear but he worked the stage like he’d been watching too many hip hop videos during his recovery … bouncing up and down and actually breaking into rap during Unskinny Bop.  Seriously, you couldn’t make this stuff up.

Throw in not one, but two cover songs (including Grand Funk’s American Band) an uninspiring drum solo (if you are a regular reader, you would know I am generally not a fan of the drum solo), as well as a mid-set bandana change and that was it for me.  In fairness to C.C. DeVille, he owned the stage and made up for a lot of the cliché that, if you’ve been dying to hear Every Rose Has It’s Thorn played by someone other than a wedding cover band, you probably overlooked.  Rant over.

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Thankfully Mötley Crüe took a different approach to things, wrapping the stage with an enormous curtain during the set change.  No intro music, no videos, no commercials, no gimmicks … just a giant explosion as the curtain fell and the band simultaneously ripped into Wild Side from Girls, Girls, Girls.  A-freaking-men!  The night was back on track.

With an impressive stage setup which would have fit just as well into an arena, the Crue’s energy and attitude stood in sharp contrast to the previous hour.  Attitude?  Yes.  Even after 30 years together, the stuff that made these guys legends of the Sunset Strip is still oozing onto the stage.  And in celebration of their 30th anniversary, they brought out the best-of show that was certain to satisfy most fans but may have left a Crue die-hard or two craving for another rarity.  But while watching the flames spew forth during Live Wire as two lovely ladies gyrated on stage, it’s hard to imagine that anyone was complaining.

Tommy Lee stepped out from behind his kit to address the crowd, “Hello my little f-ing pretties!” … proclaiming San Francisco his favorite place on the tour so far (“Seats suck”) before sitting down at the piano for Home Sweet Home.  While some well-timed pyro is always a crowd pleaser, the biggest spectacle came with Tommy’s drum solo.  While not a stranger to creative ways to spice things up on stage, he may have topped himself this time around … the drum set rolling around a huge rollercoaster-like track.  An upside down drum solo dangling 30 feet above the stage is one thing, but add to that pulling someone from the crowd (Rene) for a ride was border-line awesome although I thought Rene looked a little too comfortable riding the coaster which she named the “wang” (use your imagination).

I will shamelessly admit, it was a damn good time and that 30 years have not slowed these guys down.

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  • Wild Side
  • Saints of Los Angeles
  • Live Wire
  • Shout At the Devil
  • Same Ol’ Situation
  • Primal Scream
  • Home Sweet Home
  • Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
  • Looks That Kill
  • Dr. Feelgood
  • Too Young To Fall In Love
  • Too Fast For Love
  • Girls, Girls, Girls
  • Smokin’ In The Boys Room
  • Kickstart My Heart

© 2011 Alan Snodgrass | Please do not use without express permission (contact). If you like what you see, leave a comment below and subscribe so you can be notified of new posts. You can also become a fan on Facebook for access to exclusive photos.

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  1. Ken

    I agree with everything said here. While I’m certainly not a true fan of Poison, I will say the last 3 songs turned their set into a bit of a positive for me.
    Perhaps the set should have started with CC’s solo and moved forward from there?

    I have seen Motley Crue 4 times and I must say the June 15 show may have been the best sound quality, if not top 2 (I moved from the floor to the top right seats). Vince was utilizing his voice/air pretty well!
    They put on a good show!

    I would like to compliment you on the pictures. Having said that, I fail to understand how you could miss Tommy’s Drum-coaster in action. Rock Band KGB?

    Again, thank you for the review and for
    the pictures.


    1. Alan

      Hey, thanks for the comment. We were only allowed to shoot the first three songs (from the sound board) so that’s why there weren’t any pics of the Tommy-coaster. I wish that was not the case!

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