MOTLEY CRUE LAY 34-YEAR CAREER TO REST WITH “THE END’,

Concerts, Music reviews

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Farewell tours are tricky affairs. Bands come and go—and come back—members leave and return in revolving door fashion and some bands have only one original member left. In short, its not always pretty. In the process certain artists hurt their legacy by staying in the game too long. Mötley Crüe wanted a different kind of farewell.

Mötley Crüe shocked the world in January of 2014 when they announced to decision to call it quits. The Saints of Los Angeles had chosen to end the party sooner rather than later. The band signed a cessation of touring contract, a first in rock history, prior to embarking on a two-year long farewell. In true Crüe fashion, the event served as a tremendous publicity stunt. With displays of “RIP Mötley Crue”, complete with tombstones that read each band member’s name, it would prove to be one can’t miss funeral.

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The End press conference, London, England, 2014. Photo credit: Rolling Stone

If The End has taught us anything, it’s that Mötley Crüe was a wild, untamed beast for more than 34 years. A Mötley Crüe show remained a spectacular, reckless and even chaotic event right up to The End.

Complete with big choruses, pyrotechnics, stage production values, female backup singers and dancers in scantily clad outfits, tears and displays of emotions from the band and fans alike, The End is an exciting visual memento and the end of an era. From the bombast and fire that begins with “Girls, Girls, Girls” to Nikki Sixx adressing the audience, Tommy’s roller coaster drum solo, the flamethrower bass and Vince Neil in tears during the last song of the set “Home Sweet Home”, it’s a relentless, unforgettable journey. It’s one last big, epic, blow-out to top off a truly memorable career.

Let’s get one thing out-of-the-way. Anyone who’s been to a Crüe concert in the last decade can attest that frontman Vince Neil’s voice is not what it once was—by a long shot, some would say—and its true [It becomes especially evident on the live CD of the concert]. In the dysfunctional environment that is Mötley Crüe, however, it works.

Vince Neil’s voice and charisma is part of what made the band so successful. Neil remains one of rock’s ultimate frontmen. Even if his voice isn’t quite up to par at times, the energy and excitement level is there.

Nikki Sixx does a commendable job of looking like one of the coolest human beings on the planet. These are his songs and this is his band. The flamethrower bass bit would make Gene Simmons blush.

Tommy Lee lays down a beat like only he can, providing a solid groove and backbone for the band. While performing a drum solo on his roller coaster contraption, the whole stops unexpectedly in mid-air, Lee’s reaction is nothing short of exceptional.

Perhaps most impressive of all is Mick Mars, Crüe’s sole guitarist. Mars often falls under the radar whenever the band is mentioned, but his playing never ceases to impress even after all these years.

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An emotional Vince Neil in tears during “Home Sweet Home”.

Mötley Crüe’s imperfections are exactly what made them a perfect rock band. Rock was never about perfection. Somehow, when these four beings come together magic happens. New year’s eve 2015 would be the last time this magic would be displayed. Thankfully, the Crüe’s send-off was captured in high-definition for the whole world to relive over and over.

The End comes in standalone DVD or Blu-Ray edition and in DVD/CD, Blu-Ray/CD packaging.

Objectively, the live CD is not incredible—most of the blame can be attributed to Neil’s singing— but the excitement of Mötley Crüe’s last concert was captured and that’s enough. The heart wrenching version of “Home Sweet Home” is almost worth the price of admission alone.

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Nikki Sixx, litterally in the heat of the moment. Photo: Motley.com

The cinematography however, is among the best I’ve seen in a concert film. The cameras capture every bit: the action, emotions and pyrotechnics with beautiful wide angles, just enough slow motion bits, subtle close-ups and depth-of-field shots that would make any rock band envious. Concert cinematography has always been about the emotion and feel, less so about the visuals. The End stands in a category of its own. It sets a template for the next generation of live rock documentation.

There’s a documentary portion just before the concert that serves as a reminder of the dedication fans have for this band. It also legitimizes how big of a draw and band Mötley Crüe really was. The End comes with a few extras. Nikki Sixx talks about his flamethrower bass and Tommy Lee details the history behind his roller coaster drum set.

There are a few more interview that will no doubt be interesting and give insight to fans. Take this particularly one with Nikki Sixx for instance:

“The fact that we’ve lasted is a miracle. Maybe that’s why we’re putting a bullet in its head…We know it’s inevitable that we’re going to break up or blow up or something. Maybe we’re just doing it before it happens anyway. We shouldn’t have lasted this long,” says Sixx in the interview portion of The End.

If anything, The End is a proper send off for Mötley Crüe and one heck of a burial. One final motorcycle ride under the sunset for one of the all time great rock bands. It’s reassuring to see a farewell done right in the world of rock, a landscape where the word “retirement” isn’t always taken seriously. I’ve never been this happy and sad watching a concert on home video.

RIP Mötley Crüe, 1981-2015, you will be missed.

mcrue2.jpg                                                                           Photo cred: Ultimateclassicrock.com

LIVE DVD TRACK LISTING:

1.) Intro
2.) Girls, Girls, Girls
3.) Wild Side
4.) Primal Scream
5.) Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S)
6.) Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
7.) Rock N Roll Part II / Smokin’ In The Boys’ Room
8.) Looks That Kill
9.) Motherf***** Of The Year
10.) In The Beginning / Shout At The Devil
11.) Louder Than Hell
12.) Drum Solo
13.) Guitar Solo
14.) Saints Of Los Angeles
15.) Live Wire
16.) T.N.T (Terror ‘N Tinseltown) / Dr. Feelgood
17.) Kickstart My Heart
18.) Home Sweet Home
19.) My Way (Credits)

LIVE CD TRACK LISTING:
1.) Intro
2.) Girls, Girls, Girls
3.) Wild Side
4.) Primal Scream
5.) Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)
6.) Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
7.) Smokin’ In The Boys’ Room
8.) Looks That Kill
9.) Mutherf***** Of The Year
10.) Shout At The Devil
11.) Louder Than Hell
12.) Saints Of Los Angeles
13.) Live Wire
14.) Dr. Feelgood
15.) Kickstart My Heart
16.) Home Sweet Home

MOVIE/ALBUM REVIEW: KISS rolls the dice in Vegas

Movie reviews, Music reviews, Uncategorized

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In November of 2014 KISS did one of the very few things they hadn’t tried up to this point: a Vegas residency. After all many hard rock artists have tried their hand at Vegas —successfully so— over the years; Both Guns N’Roses and Motley Crue twice, Def Leppard and more recently, Scorpions and Billy Idol. Las Vegas, Nevada is no longer the place where acts go to die, the stigma has faded with time. It seemed obvious KISS would roll the dice in Sin City eventually.

Vegas would force the hottest band in the land to play shows on a smaller scale than it is accustomed to resulting in a slightly more personal performance. That is not to say KISS toned down the fanfare. The antics like pyrotechnics and fire-breathing are still there—they’re just a little less elaborate. While Rocks Vegas is not a particularly fresh concept, it sure is good to see some new live KISS content in an albeit unique setting.

KISS Rocks Vegas initially saw selected showings in movie theatres on May 25th before its impending home video release. KISS looks spectacular on the big screen but watching the Blu-Ray/DVD at home is the next best thing. The last official stand-alone KISS live concert DVD come over ten years ago —Rock the Nation back in 2005— and featured the same lineup.

 

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The accompanying CD also marks the first official live album KISS had issued under this current lineup (unless you count the Instant Live CDs). Is it necessary for a band like KISS to put out a live album in what is likely the twilight of their career? For one thing it would shock many to know at just how few live albums KISS has in comparison to bands like Rush and Iron Maiden. If anything I’m surprised we haven’t had more live KISS. Documenting live performances becomes important as a band ages.

Its latter-day KISS, a lineup that features Tommy Thayer on guitar and Eric Singer on drums alongside Gene and Paul. That means no Ace and Peter, a fact that should be well outlined by now. This lineup, although quite capable, has its hit-and-miss moments— a fact that becomes more evident when listening to the CD. Let’s be honest for a minute: Paul’s voice is shaky, Gene forgets lyrics and Tommy’s solos are sloppy on ocasion. They may no longer be in their prime, yet KISS is still more than capable of putting on an incredible and visually compelling show.

KISS doesn’t stray too far from its usual setlist of classics like Love Gun and Detroit Rock City, but nevertheless the band took a chance and added Tears Are Falling to the set and chose to play no less than three songs from fan-favourite Creatures of the Night. The inclusions of Parasite and War Machine are worth mentioning as is Hell or Hallelujah from the latest studio effort, Monster.

 

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As an added treat, Rocks Vegas features a 7 song acoustic setlist. Paul Stanley shaking his head after filling in for Gene’s forgotten lyrics during Christine Sixteen is simply priceless. Seeing a relaxed KISS as people with no makeup, pyro or costume playing as Love Her All I Can and Goin’ Blind is a great experience. I think it really says something about KISS that the band is this effective in an acoustic setting. I initially was apprehensive of Eric Singer doing Beth, a song that was always Peter Criss’ baby, but its the definitive highlight of the session. You can watch the acoustic performances but if you want to hear them on CD you’ll have to shell out more money as they are part of an $80 box set exclusive to Amazon. KISS and marketing, indeed. 

It’s a monumental task to substitute the live concert experience for a DVD or CD. Rocks Vegas doesn’t quite achieve that feat, but it displays a determined KISS giving a crowd-pleasing performance. The Blu-Ray version is crisp and looks great on my HD TV and the live CD kept those imperfections and mistakes giving a real live feel and that’s a good thing.

Now bring back I Stole Your Love, pretty please.
Setlist:

01. Detroit Rock City
02. Creatures Of The Night
03. Psycho Circus
04. Parasite
05. War Machine
06. Tears Are Falling
07. Deuce
08. Lick It Up
09. I Love It Loud
10. Hell Or Hallelujah & Tommy Solo
11. God Of Thunder
12. Do You Love Me
13. Love Gun
14. Black Diamond
15. Shout It Out Loud
16. Rock And Roll All Night

 

Acoustic set:

01. Coming Home
02. Plaster Caster
03. Hard Luck Woman
04. Christine Sixteen
05. Goin’ Blind
06. Love Her All I Can
07. Beth

Aerosmith rocks 40+ Years on

Music reviews

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Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014, Eagle Vision, Aerosmith, 2015.

Aerosmith is an American treasure. The matter of the fact is four decades into their careers they are still easily one of the top live musical acts around. From their classic songs to their hits, there is something for everyone.

It’s not just the songs, it’s the performance and entertainment that goes along: one of rock’s tightest rhythmic sections, Joe Perry’s too-cool-for-you nonchalance, Steven Tyler’s screams and costume changes. Aerosmith Rocks Donington is not Aerosmith in their prime. It’s or your dad’s Aerosmith. This is Aerosmith today as it should be and if that interests you, good. If not, move along.

There’s excellent versions of classics like “Walk This Way” and “Mama Kin” going up to “Cryin'” and “Jaded”. The way “Home Tonight” blends into Aerosmith’s signature song “Dream On” is so good it’s almost tearful. Steven playing piano and singing on his own (later joined by the band) is one of the best moments of any Aerosmith show

Donington’s setlist covers the grand scope of Aerosmith’s career in 19 songs. I have very few complaints when it comes down to what songs were included. I was disappointed that “Back ln The Saddle” wasn’t performed, but that’s just me nitpicking. It encompasses a variety of the band’s catalogue from beginning to now. I was happily surprised that Joe Perry sang “Freedom Fighter” as it was the one song off Music From Another Dimension! that I wanted to hear.

Why another DVD release so soon after the last one? I enjoyed Land of the Rising Sun, I really did. But it was more of a documentary and some fans didn’t really enjoy that. This time, there are no bits and pieces of interviews in between songs. There is however a short intro by the band members along with a short video montage. This is one of the few concert DVDs that feels as if you’re there.

The production isn’t overblown, but it’s spectacular when it needs to be. The camera fixates on someone or something for more than a split second unlike a lot of concert DVDs. To be brief, the editing is just what it needs to be and then some. What you get is a full, continuous concert that showcases all that Aerosmith has to offer today.

Steven sounds incredible for a man of 66. He still does the screams and hits the notes and his voice has aged well which only becomes more apparent compared to his peers. His clothes remains outrageous as ever and his every move ever so captivating.

Joe Perry takes the cake when it comes to looking the part of the badass guitar player who looks like he couldn’t possibly care less. That’s not to say there’s not good shots of the rest of the band, but the focus here (and as it always has been) is on the Toxic Twins.

Donington comes in separate bundles of either just the standalone DVD or Blu-Ray or either combined with CDs or Vinyl. Should you get it? The one I splurged for is a full package with the concert DVD and two CDs. The digipack packaging it comes in is beautiful and unfolds to reveal each separate disc stored with care. Booklet is complete with liner notes and picture. If I had to be a nerd (let’s face it, I kinda am), I’d say it mentions the release of Rocks as 1975 (it’s ’76).

The concert DVD is an excellent representation of Aerosmith today and a great souvenir of the 2014 Donington show in the U.K. It looks fabulous with nice camera angles and shots. In that sense it’s their best video release in quite some time.

I also personally enjoy the two CDs since there hasn’t been any live Aerosmith discs in some time and they sound great. With the visuals you tend to be blown away and taking it all in. The CDs reveal a little more of the imperfections and rough spots but you also get the full effect by getting the live CDs to accompany the DVD/Blu-Ray in my opinion.

It’s not Aerosmith’s best live effort, rather it’s true to who they are and sounds decent enough. Should you give it a try? I’d certainly say so.

I’ll rate:

The DVD: 4.5/5
CDs: 3.5/5
Packaging: 4/5

Unplugged? Thanks, Tesla.

Music reviews

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Live from Lexxi’s mom’s Garage, Steel Panther, Kobalt, 2016.

And yes, that’s the Cherrie Pie girl adorning the cover, the one and only Bobbie Brown.

When l first heard the news of a Steel Panther live album in early January, I thought,”That’s great, now is the perfect time!”. With three albums of comedy gold and infectious Heavy Metal under their belts, the band’s ever-dedicated fanthers are more than ready for a live album. I’ve personally witnessed the band in concert a few times on different tours and they always deliver the goods live. Then l read the album – then untitled – was to be an acoustic performance l had mixed feelings (and flashbacks of Tesla and Mr. Big). Knowing how talented and fun the guys in Steel Panther are l was sure they would somehow pull it off and that Live from Lexxi’s mom’s garage would be a hit… At my place.

Sure there’s been the British lnvasion DVD (2011), but this counts as the band’s first proper live album. Live from Lexxi’s mom’s garage is a dual CD/DVD package. The DVD also features some video skits with the band’s trademark humour on display in between songs (not so much in the live set). I’m not much of a tech guy, but l can tell you the visuals and quality of the DVD are excellent. Likewise, the audio CD sounds great in the car and is not heavily edited from the concert.

Michael Starr is – to me – one of the best frontmen in rock, present or past. The man delivers night after night the way some of his older peers can’t. Ever the highly energetic frontman and ringleader, Starr commands attention with his undeniable charisma. Satchel proves he is one talented guitar player, making the move from electric to acoustic smoothly, playing his butt off and his backing vocals complement Starr’s perfectly. Stixx Zadinia has to hold back a little on the drums in an acoustic setting, but does a great job of laying the foundation hard without overshadowing the rest of the band. Lexxi, plays what needs to be played on bass (I still think he doesn’t enough credit for his playing and backing vocals) and as usual, is the target of many jokes.

Bobbie Brown making an appearance on the album cover and during the show is great and helps cement Steel Panther’s association with Hair-Metal. Having the “Cherry Pie” girl be a part of the show was a nice touch (Tawny Kitaen would have been s suitable choice as well). She delivers on her role as Lexxi’s mom and contributes to comic moments.

From time-proven tunes like “Community Property” and “Fat Girl (Thar She Blows) to new songs like “That’s When You Came In”, the band is giving the packed garage a healthy serving of their best songs and the audience is eating it up. Even though this is an acoustic performance and little more mellow than the usual Steel Panther show the crowd is on fire and it’s a great sight to behold.

A lot of the songs already lend very well to the acoustic setting such as “If You Really, Really Love Me”. Some of the songs have a different flavour acoustically such as “The Burden of Being Wonderful” which came as a great surprise. Even one of their heavier offering, “Death To All But Metal”, has a nice twist to it and ends up sounding unexpectedly unique in an acoustic setting.

Live from Lexxi’s mom’s garage is comprised of 13 songs, a live CD and a DVD in one fun and inexpensive package. For the Steel Panther fan, this is worth a look as it offers interesting twists on beloved songs and all the fun, crude humour you can handle. 4/5stars