Vie’s Verses – Thoughts on Kiss & Motley Crue
As avid readers of Vie’s Verses know (yes, there are avid readers…), I recently attended the Kiss/Motley Crue concert at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel New Jersey. It would be my 10th time seeing Kiss perform live, and even though I have witnessed their spectacular show that many times, I was still giddy with anticipation as I drove down the Garden State Parkway toward the Arts Center. I was looking forward to all three bands on the bill (The Treatment was the opening act), but I was most looking forward to Kiss.
Unfortunately, thanks to friends who arrived late, walked slow, and forced me to wait in the port-a-potty line because they just COULD NOT make it to bathroom inside the amphitheater, I missed The Treatment. A couple of friends later informed me that The Treatment was not very good, but I still wanted to witness it for myself. These were also friends who had never heard of the band prior to that night. I however, am a lover of their debut album, and still steaming that I missed the band. Stupid small bladder people!
We did arrive just in time for Motley Crue to take the stage and for the food stand to run out of burgers. I only mention this because it was the oddest experience I’ve had at a concert (in relation to food, anyway). I mean, how does one simply run out of burgers before the main act has even taken the stage? That irritated me, because I was pretty hungry by that point and the cheeseburgers looked fabulous. I secretly cursed my friends again, knowing that if they walked a little faster, or learned how to hold their urine a little longer, I could have enjoyed a burger AND the opening act.
Motley Crue took the stage to “Saints Of Los Angeles,” which I thought was excellent. I hate it when bands ignore their newer material in order to play only their classic cuts. That set the concert off to a great start. The rest of the Crue’s performance would be solid, but not as grand as when they took the stage to “Saints Of Los Angeles.”
Motley Crue is putting on a festival with this current tour. It consisted of a cavalcade of strippers in a variety of outfits and poses. There were some in all leather, some in almost nothing at all, and there were even strippers on stilts. And while the only purpose they served was to look good, that was all right, because the men in the audience loved it, and secretly, some of the women may have liked it too. To me, it was just Motley Crue being Motley Crue, and it was what I had expected of the band.
During “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” my friend Dave poised a very poignant question. “Do you think we like this concert because it’s that good, or are we just nostalgic for that time period in our lives?” Damn good question. As I pondered it for a moment, I realized that the song playing was 23 years old and I could remember the first time I ever heard it after buying Dr. Feelgood on cassette tape the day of its release. I didn’t provide Dave with an answer, but he didn’t need one.
Tommy Lee took over the spotlight about halfway through the night. He did his drum solo in a circular roller coaster that sat at the back of the stage, and then performed it again, this time with a member of the audience strapped in next to him. And while I do not care for Tommy Lee at all, I thought it was quite cool to see a member of the audience strapped in next to him as he performed a roller coaster drum solo.
Vince Neil pulled his usual sing every third word, forget most of the lyrics, and hold the microphone out to the audience in the hopes that they will think it’s cool and not realize that he doesn’t know the lyrics to his own songs. And even that has become quaint. While it used to annoy me to see Vince huffing and puffing and singing “He’s…screaming….night….” I find it amusing now. Again, it’s to be expected. And while Vince was huffing and puffing, Mick Mars was still being the coolest guy on the stage. Here’s a guy that’s battling a spinal disease, is in immense pain just from standing, looks like a skeleton come to life, and he’s still the coolest being at the Arts Center. Mick Mars is a true Rock God!
Overall, Motley Crue did what I expected that Motley Crue would. They put on a hot, nostalgic, debauchery filled, hell of a good time, rock and roll show. How could anyone complain about that?
Kiss, too, would deliver exactly what I expected of them, although by the end of their set, I was wishing they had played longer. Yes, I understand it was a double bill and that each band was limited to twelve or thirteen songs. I didn’t care. I still wanted to see more Kiss before the night was through.
Kiss took the stage to the classic “Detroit Rock City” and the night was underway. Most of the songs performed were from 1978 or earlier. And with the exception of their brand new single, “Hell Or Hallelujah,” there wasn’t a song played that had been recorded after 1983. To some fans, this was heaven. To me, it was a cop out, and a put off. Kiss had just toured behind one of their best albums ever recorded and now they refuse to play at least one song from it? How disappointing.
The expected antics were all present and accounted for. Gene would breathe fire and spit blood. Paul Stanley would fly out to the audience and play “Love Gun” from a smaller stage. Tommy would shoot rockets out of his guitar. And even their newest trick was present and accounted for— Eric firing a bazooka at the end of Tommy’s guitar solo.
Tommy Thayer would take over the lead vocals for “Shock Me,” and this was another disappointing moment in the night. No, I don’t mind Tommy singing lead vocals for a song (or two), but why “Shock Me?” As mentioned, Kiss just toured behind Sonic Boom, which contained a fantastic song sung by Tommy Thayer, “When Lightning Strikes.” Why not have Tommy sing his own song? Or, if you must only perform the classics, then have him take over lead vocals for “Cold Gin.” Just don’t have him take Ace’s signature song and then steal Ace’s guitar solo. That has really bothered me a lot over the years.
The rest of the Kiss night was exactly what I’ve come to expect, and even though I have seen it multiple times, I still found myself smiling, laughing, singing along, and clapping my hands. I screamed for “I Love It Loud,” I pumped my fist like a good Kiss Army soldier during “War Machine,” and I jumped up and down like a little boy for “Shout It Out Loud.” Was it because the show was that good, or was nostalgia hitting me hard? Who knows? All that I know for sure is that I had a spectacular time. Kiss ended with “Rock And Roll All Nite,” as expected, complete with confetti bombs bursting and spraying the audience ad infinitum. And while I had seen that gag a million times as well, I still grinned and loved it. It was, after all, Kiss being Kiss, and that was a good thing.
All in all, both Motley Crue and Kiss put on a great show. If you’re going to catch the concert this fall, you’re in for a real treat. Don’t expect any deep cuts, don’t expect any outrageous surprises, just expect a good old-fashioned, rock and roll show, one that’s worth the price of admission. Can you really ask for more than that?
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