It’s Crüe-lly ironic, of course. Peter Pan, the boy who could fly and who never aged: dead of a heroin overdose in the Chateau Marmont, 1983. It was the same year that Mötley Crüe, the most outrageous of hair-metal bands, released “Shout at the Devil,” a multi-platinum musical paeon to hedonism and misogny reflecting the band’s eternal philosophy that, by God, they really would never grow old!
Flash forward three decades and several similarly successful and eerily repetitive albums later. The Crüe’s in the Mohegan Sun Arena getting ready for Saturday night’s sold out show. Imagine how it goes down backstage. There’s 62-year-old guitarist Mick Mars, long suffering from debilitating arthritis, being helped into his towering platform shoes by two of the band’s four pet strippers — possibly his granddaughters? The babes will join the group onstage as background vocalists, pole-dancers, acrobats, S&M fantasy objects, and all-around wearers of not-many-clothes.
Bassist Nikki Sixx, now 54, empties the last of six cans of the adhesive spray it takes to make his hair look like what you’d see on top of a wino when you exhumed a pauper’s grave.
Drummer Tommy Lee, 50, who once played in the University of Nebraska marching band either right before or right after he divorced or married his lastest Hustler centerfold, prances around with nervous energy, trying out different nuanced pronunciations of the word “Dude” because it’s still the best word, like, ever!
And 52-year-old vocalist Vince Neil, whose cumulative arrest record on charges of intoxication and violence rivals a bad week at Mardi Gras, cackles slyly because he still has blond hair and Bret Michaels is bald.
It’s time to rock.
In the front of the house, fans are treated to a scoreboard-style clock countdown and a medieval style monk processional through the floor seats and up on the stage. The monks, of course, are the Crüe themselves! They strap on axes, the pet strippers climb into the rafters — and the boys blast into “Saints of Los Angeles,” the title track from their most recent album! We’re off – and 10,000 delirious folks, reliving music that imprinted their post-adolescent rebellion, couldn’t be happier.
Crazy light displays, spewing smoke, 64 stacks of Marshalls — and of course Lee’s drum solo/carnival ride where his kit is tracked in a giant circle so he’s playing upside down. Truth told, the overall sound isn’t that great. Mars still has that killer tone, and Neil, strutting around like he’s taunting cops at a NASCAR race, for the most part hits the high notes. But Sixx’s bass lines are sludge and Lee’s kick drum and cymbals are lost in the big hall.
Well, so what? Hair metal, perhaps more than any other rock ‘n’ roll form, is about attitude, image, sex and inebriants, and Mötley Crüe wants you to believe Peter Pan did not die in vain. Over the course of 100-minutes and 17 songs, MC ladled out the soundtrack of Reckless Youth. Whether the material remains vital all these years later isn’t really the point. It was more about being taken on a journey. Home, sweet home.