When I first heard of Motley Crue I didn’t like them. I was young, Nu Metal was what the Magazines were saying was cool and anything Glam or Hair related was advertised as being terrible, cliched, sexist nonsense for old men who had all grown out of rock music now and were embarrassed to admit they used to like it. That’s what I was told anyway, and though it turns out that this idea was very much a caricature of the real situation I was fool enough to believe it an ignored the band for the next decade or so. Eventually a friend bought me their biography, The Dirt, and I read it since I usually enjoy a good band book and it was rather famous in and of itself as a book so I was tempted to try even if I wasn’t a fan of the band. Upon reading I instantly grew to dislike the band. Cheating, stealing, rude, ungrateful, disrespectful of other’s hard work and property, they didn’t seem like nice people (apparently I forgot about the whole Rock N Roll thing… because everyone else who read the book said ‘Wow, what a badass’ where I thought ‘You are the opposite of an upstanding citizen’). It did make me wonder why anybody liked the band, and that lead me to listen to their music.
…Oh. It all made sense now. Songs like ‘Bastard,’ ‘Red Hot,’ ‘Use It Or Loose It’ and ‘Live Wire’ all tapped into my love of Speed Metal and NWOBHM with their familiar sound… pounding drums, chugging guitars, shouting vocals. What do you mean they toured with Saxon in the early days!? ….That let me in the door and soon I discovered the rest and gladly so. Oh, songs like Don’t Go Away Mad are like an updated version of Kiss… it all makes sense.
Fast forward a few years and its time to review The End, the final concert from the final tour in the storied and legendary band’s career. Available in many formats, CD, Vinyl, DVD and Blu Ray, normal and deluxe editions, there’s many ways to buy this. For me it was standard edition Blu Ray.
Sonically; its very good. The music is clear, big and well-produced. Its got umph. The mix is just right. Visually; its a treat. The picture is excellent, the camera work is on point, the editing is well done (maybe I could loose a few of the slow motion shots but that’s just personal taste) and the actual content of the show is very visually interesting… there’s flames, a specially designed stage with spikes and pentagrams and the band’s name, there’s lazers and even a rollercoaster. The band tower above the crowd on cherrypickers a one point. Its a very big Rock N’ Roll show to match the likes of Kiss, Rammstein and Rob Zombie.
The setlist is quite strong, lots of material from the first four albums, Primal Scream, and a few from the more recent Saints Of Los Angeles. Basically, only material by the full ‘classic line up.’ More or less hit after hit. In terms of less-famous songs they even play my favourite Crue non-single ‘Louder Than Hell’ off of the underrated Theater Of Pain.
So; it looks good, it sounds good and they play good songs. Sounds perfect, right? Well… uh, here’s the thing. The performance is a bit patchy. Maybe even a lot patchy. I mean, Motley Crue are good performers as entertainers… the flame-thrower bass guitar and the crowd interaction and the first pumping excitement raising is all very good in terms of live performance. Its just, the key thing, y’know, playing the songs, where it falls down for me. There’s numerous musical fluffs and mistakes and missed ques. There’s questionable reworkings of classic songs that might’ve made ’em feel updated but miss the mark (‘Shout At The Devil’ I’m lookin at you!) and Vince’s vocals are very sloppy. I have a lot of good will for him and don’t want to slag him off unnecessarily, but man, he is so out of breath, misses so many lines, delivers so many lines in an inappropriate pitch or tone or volume, overall just does not sing these songs either as well as on record or indeed, very well at all.
You could probably forgive a few fluffed transitions and you can get over a few of the questionable moments like Vince doing a happy sexy dance to the word ‘rape’ if you keep in your mind its a concert and not everything would be absolutely perfect, but the singing is such a let down it really is a bit of a deal breaker for me. You can add a few more points if you are a diehard fan I guess, but you can also detract a few if you are a fan of any album between ‘Feelgood and ‘Saints.
I also find the drum solo very… um, well. Drum solos should usually be about showing how well you can play the drums, not just playing along to some dubstep. The rollercoaster was cool and I guess its difficult to play a virtuosic solo when you are upside down, but seriously who comes to Motely Crue wanting to hear dubstep? Maybe I’m nitpicking. Its interesting that they caught on film the one time it goes wrong and Tommy gets stuck in midair like an amusement park malfunction. Its just hard to imagine that it was pitched to the right audience maybe.
I go through two different moods when watching this. First, the cynical mood – ‘Wow, look at those passed-their-prime guys who all hate eachother showing up for the money and not even being on-point musically’ and then the more optimistic ‘Wow, look at those guys up there putting aside their differences to give the fans what they want, and so what if they don’t play perfectly as they put on a big enough spectacle to compensate.’ Sometimes it varies from viewing to viewing, and sometimes it varies from song to song in a single viewing, but I never have settled into deciding which way I feel definitively, and I never did stop viewing.
So that’s the concert. What about the bonus features? Well, there’s a quick four-minute feature about the Flamethrower Bass which is just Nicky talking about his history with pyro and why the one in this concert is the best. Then there’s a similar five-and a-half minute feature on Tommy’s drum rollercoaster and why visuals are important to a live audience. The best feature is a 35 minute interview section with the band where they answer all sorts of questions ans start reflecting on their history and how far they’ve come. None of these features are deal-breakers that you’d buy the disc over if you didn’t want the concert, but are welcome enough for a one-off watch.
Overall; There’s a lot to recommend this concert on – a setlist of mainly hits, a great sound and look, a big rock spectacle, historical significance etc. There’s a few bonus features to add some extra value for money. There’s also a pretty big downside however – the band and especially the singer don’t do as good a job as you’d hope. Whether you can put up with that is up to you. Or like me, maybe you buy it anyway and struggle to figure out if you can put up with it while still watching it a lot.