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.

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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

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Packs a punch

Music reviews

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Prayers for the Damned Vol. 1, Sixx A.M., Sony Music, 2016.

Nikki Sixx sure isn’t wasting any time. Barely four months after completing Mötley Crue’s farewell tour he’s back at it again, this time with a new studio album with his now-main focus, Sixx A.M. 2016 looks to be a very prolific year for the band with their new album Prayers for the Damned to be released in two parts.

I wasn’t a big fan of the band’s last effort, Modern Vintage (2014). I can appreciate that certain aspects were very experimental and diverse, but Prayers for the Dammed Vol. 1 feels much more like a Sixx A.M album. With it’s heavy, anthemic in-your-face lyrics and attitude, the album is everything a Sixx A.M. album should be

“Rise” is a strong opener and choice of first single. It’s everything Sixx A.M. tries to be; uplifting and powerful. A kick in the face.

“You Have Come to the Right Place” is a heavy fist pumper that packs a punch, I see this song working well in a potential live setting .

“I’m Sick” is one of the catchier songs on the album, featuring a blistering guitar solo courtesy of DJ Ashba.

The title track “Prayers for the Damned” is very slick and modern. The song is carried by James Michael’s passionate vocal delivery and constitutes a high point for the album lyrically.

“Better Man” is my favourite song on the album, it has that depth and raw honesty the band’s best songs possess. It’s slightly more stripped-down than the rest of the album and in that sense it’s effective.

“Can’t Stop” is a good song but it gets lost in the shuffle to better songs.

“When We Were Gods” has one of the album’s best choruses and solid riffing from Ashba, very heavy.

“Belly of the Beast” has an industrial feel to it which adds a different dimension to the album .

“Everything Went to Hell” features some furious riffing, swearing and all-around anger. I feel the passion. Definitely a highlight.

“The Last Time (My Heart Will Hit the Ground)” doesn’t stand out in any way to me, but it has a cool breakdown after the halfway point.

The closing “Rise of the Melancholy Empire” is the longest song of the album at 6:08. It had a soft start and builds up quickly and with interesting breakdowns manages to engage the listener. The first thought that came to mind after listening was how well the title fit. Melancholy indeed.

A few observations:

In my eyes, Modern Vintage was ambitious, but all over the place experimenting and throwing ideas against the wall— waiting to see what sticks. Prayers for the Damned is self-aware, loaded, heavier, loud, bold, and confident. This approach works better for the band.

It’s fantastic to hear Asha let loose on Sixx A.M. album. I always had the feeling he was holding back, here he shreds on multiple occasions. Sixx A.M. was never known for having a whole lot of guitar solos, until now that is. It took me by surprise I must say.

Sixx A.M.’s first official drummer, Dustin Seinke,makes his first studio appearance. I wouldn’t classify the drumming as phenomal, but Seinke does the job well and there are moments where he shines.

The album features a lot of God and Christianity-related themes. Songs like “Belly of the Beast” are a little more obvious with their stances, but it’s a found throughout the album almost as a concept.

Is it a masterpiece that will blow your mind? Unlikely. However, Prayers for the Damned Vol. 1 is a great slice of modern rock that boasts very good songs and has me anticipating Vol. 2. Well done, Sixx A.M. 3.5/5 stars.

A lot of modern, very little vintage

Uncategorized

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Modern Vintage, Sixx A.M., Eleven Seven Music, 2014.

I became a fan of Sixx A.M when they first came out with The Heroin Diaries in 2007. At the time the music was fresh and just what l needed. I was in high school and going through difficult times and things teenagers go through. I was already in love with Motley Crue for a few years at that point. Then Nikki Sixx came out strong with his Sixx Am side project. I respected him even more as he was now in two bands that l loved.

I thought Sixx A.M. had everything going for them; a great single, excellent songwriting and l could identify with the music and some of the lyrical content. The accompanying book also made for a wonderful experience. I enjoyed the band’s second album, This Is Gonna Hurt, I liked a lot of that album and it’s accompanying book even though l felt it wasn’t as impressive as the first.

I stayed a fan and continued following the band anticipation their next release. 2014 rolls along (which shows this review is a bit overdue) and hence we have Sixx A.M.’s third studio album, Modern Vintage.

The album begins with “Stars”, a very good indication of the album’s overall sound, style and feel. To me it’s average at best, it’s not unlistenable but it doesn’t grab you in the way it intends to, it has “made for radio all over it”.

“Gotta Get lt Right” is the first single and didn’t do anything to encourage me to pick up the album. I can get the over almost Christmas-like feel it has but l think where they fail lies in the chorus.

“Relief” is straight ahead rock and with it’s lyrical theme sounds more like the Sixx Am of the past.

“Gotta Get You Some” is a twist and a nice change of pace with it’s acoustic guitars before kicking it into high gear for the chorus. It too has a very commercial ready for radio feel, only slightly darker. I’m not in love with this song, but James Michaels does a very good singing performance.

“Let’s Go” and “Give Me A Love” are probably the closest to a heavy rock track on here (and to the sound of previous Sixx Am), with “Let’s Go” especially being a true fist-pumper and a highlight.

“Drive” is a an awful cover of the same song by The Cars. It sounds dull and the electronic euro pop in the background makes it unlistenable. The guitar work is the only good thing about it.

“Hyperventilate” is to out it nice and short, one of the better songs on Modern Vintage.

“High On The Music” sounds like a young pop band and not like Sixx Am or a rock band, going for that radio hit feel-good type song.

“Miracle” has cool groove and a vintage feel to it, on the other hand it also honestly sounds like a Maroon 5 tune.

“Before lt’s Over” has a jazzy/lounge feel to it that sees the band trying to branch out.

I’m not sure what I was expecting out of Modern Vintage or if I was expecting anything at all to be honest. I loved the first album, liked the second and bought the third out of loyalty and because l thought there’d be at least a few songs I liked. I wasn’t terribly into the first single but I didn’t let that discourage me. Well I’m sad to say that after multiple listens it’s a bit underwhelming.

The songs don’t “rock” as hard and sound more mainstream and bland, that is both musically and lyrically. The songs are more happy this time around, in theory this should work but it doesn’t. There’s no anger, no frustration, desperation, none of what made Sixx Am’s core on the first two albums. I’m actually surprised to see so many high ratings and reviews praising the album. Maybe we didn’t listen to the same Sixx Am band previously l don’t know.

All I know is what I hear, and this album just doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t enjoy the direction they went in, they’re all over the place on this record with experiments that simply don’t work.

Modern Vintage ends up sounding like a lot of modern and no vintage. Alas I am not a hater. It pains me because I’m a Crue fan, a Sixx Am fan and a Nikki Sixx fan and I really wanted to enjoy it. It just feels less inspired than the first two and even though it has a different sound it doesn’t break any new ground. It tries to hard to go for the commercial radio songs and it’s like they forgot who they where. 2/5