Concert Review: Mötley Crüe

Venue:  Du Marina, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Date:  20 November 2015

Set list:
· So Long, Farewell (Rodgers & Hammerstein song) (Song played from tape)
· Girls, Girls, Girls
· Wild Side
· Primal Scream
· Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S)
· Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
· Smokin’ In the Boys’ Room (Brownsville Station cover) (with Gary Glitter’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Pt. II)
· Looks That Kill
· Motherfucker of the Year
· Anarchy in the U.K (Sex Pistols cover)
· In the Beginning (Song played from tape)
· Shout At the Devil
· Guitar solo
· Saints of Los Angeles
· Live Wire
· T.N.T. (Terror N’ Tinseltown) (Song played from tape)
· Dr. Feelgood
· Kickstart My Heart
· Encore – Home Sweet Home (With Tommy Lee on keyboards)
· My Way (Song played from tape)

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Friday night was Mötley Crüe‘s first and last performance in the UAE. It was hosted by Flash Entertainment at the Du Arena in Abu Dhabi.

The Du Arena is a venue designed to take a large capacity crowd.  Crüe has a very loyal cult following, but it has never been a large one when compared to the likes of their 1980’s Metal peers like Guns and Roses.  Last night’s event was testament to this, where it was a more intimate crowd attending, giving the atmosphere a more cozy, club feel.  What this does mean is the fans that took the trouble to attend were clearly devoted lifelong fans, who new the words to the songs by heart.  They new what to expect, and when to expect it, and loved every explosion and burst of fire that erupted from MC’s dramatically ostentatious repertoire.

Opening with the pair of classics, Girls, Girls, Girls and Wild Side from 1987, classic Mötley songs, designed to get the crowd going and into instant party mode started things off.  They were accompanied on stage by two female dancers who also sang backup at times. It’s no secret that Motley Crue supplements their lead singer with backtracked vocals, as Vince Neil is not the best live vocalist. Instead, Neil is more of an MC and hosts and entertains the crowd in his typical flamboyant style rather than the classic vocal front man we are familiar with.  Primal Scream gave guitarist Mick Mars, who has been plagued by degenerative arthritis, the opportunity to re-emphasize his role as a key part of the band.  When he walked centre stage he proceeded to dazzle the audience with a blazing trail of screaming riffs designed to impress, and that they did.  Clearly he still has the skills.

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Bassist  Nikki Sixx handles a good deal of the fronting duties, marauding across the stage in face make-up  delivering a monologue about the band’s 34-year career.  Granted, not with quite the energy he used to, but there was certainly no Zimmer frame in sight either! Bassist, Sixx brought the brashness and swagger of an ‘80s hair rock band on stage with him when he sang the song Kickstart My Heart, about his long-ago near-death experiences with heroin.

Tommy Lee, the unofficial face of the group, famous for bringing his drum kit to the fore with stunts such as putting it on a track that rotates it upside down did not quite deliver.  This may well have been due to safety restrictions imposed by the venue, or just logistics involved in travelling with all the associated paraphernalia.  History did not quite relate why this was not present on Friday night….  He did however have a circle of fire surrounding his kit, but it was the drum solo the audience was after and that didn’t happen. He did however come front and centre, to play the piano on the encore, Home Sweet Home.  The stage show was as pretentious as ever, with most of the set on fire at one point or another. And as we have come to expect over the years, Nikki Sixx’s flame-throwing bass guitar was working the stage, much to the delight of the fans. They as a band are however definitely showing their age, and considering the fact they are all well into their 50’s it’s not surprising. They always were dependent on their props, and light and sound show accompanying their performances. Now as they are 34 years into their career even more so, but as far as an evening of music and entertainment, they did not disappoint.

The gig is part of the band’s Final Tour – guaranteed by a public death pact between  members – making it both the first and last time we will see the band perform in the Middle East.  We’ve all heard it before, but only time will tell if this really is their last tour as a band.  Just weeks after the November 20 Yas Island gig the band will bow out from 34 years on the road with their final goodbye concert in Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve. The opening dates of The Final Tour were announced in January 2014 where each of the four the members signed a “Cessation Of Touring Agreement” in front of the media, guaranteeing this tour would mark the band’s end

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In 1981, Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee came together to form Mötley Crüe. Nine studio albums and countless tours later the glam, hard-rock band is finally ready to put their guitars and drumsticks away. When I told my parents that Mötley Crüe would be performing live in Abu Dhabi they laughed, and told me they had been listening to their music long before I was even a twinkle in their eye, and they were famous for a lot more than just music.  This piqued my interest and my background research unearthed some rather dubious shenanigans that belong more on TMZ than my blog, so we will leave it there I think!  Let’s just say they are as colourful off stage as they are on!  That said, there is no doubt in my mind that Mötley Crüe is one of the influential and most infamous rock bands of all time.

While the members of the band have changed over the years the core four of Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Mick Marks, and Vince Neil have been there virtually from the beginning. The release of their album, Dr. Feelgood, became the first Mötley Crüe album to top the Billboard charts.  Mötley Crüe embarked on their final tour having sold more 100 million albums, which is phenomenal. The tour, which actually began in 2014, spans all the way through 2015 hitting 70 cities across the world. Their over the top performances bring to the stage dancing-female backup singers, fireworks, smoke machines, strobe lights, lasers, blowtorches, flaming pentagrams, stage lifts, cranes, and Tommy Lee’s upside down drum kit known as the Crüecifly (which was unfortunately missing in Friday night’s performance).

Mötley Crüe are not just musicians, but performers.  Their Glam metal sound, and look dazzles one, it is very visual and is usually associated with flashy clothing and makeup.  It combines elements of these genres with punk rock and pop music, adding catchy hooks and guitar riffs, which we hear especially in Primal Scream.  Add all of this to their rather controversial off stage reputation (especially in the 80’s) and you have the makings of a classic glam metal rock group that have stood the test of time.  Let’s see if this really is their last tour….

All photo credits go to Natheer Halawani a very talented music photographer. As a side note and fellow photographer, accreditation shots are usually the first 3 songs. In the case of this event, they were given the first 2. Challenging stage lighting and position of the photography pit can make it very difficult to get those perfect shots. Add to that, a huge LED backlit screen, which is one of the toughest, most annoying issues any music photographer might have to deal with as the camera sensor is digital and instantly fragments the LED image into hideous RGB pixles, visible to the naked eye. All the challenges aside I think he did an amazing job of getting some great shots!

Here are more photos of Motley Crue that Natheer Halawani took on the Glamroz website.

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