Monday, September 17, 2012

Concert Review - Motley Crue / KISS

Today's Music Monday is the first one since my return from a three-week break. It also begins a slight change to Music Mondays. In fact, today's is gonna be different from anything I've done before - I'm gonna do a concert review.

Many of you may remember that back on a Music Monday in April, I shared with my readers about a summer concert series that was being dubbed as "The Concert of the Year" - the Motley Crue and KISS tour. As someone who has been a Motley Crue fan since middle school, I was very excited when my wife surprised me by getting tickets for us to attend the September 4th show at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. Today, I'm sharing my thoughts about it and reviewing the show. I'm gonna grade both bands on four things - song mix, sound, special effects, and other. I'll grade them based on a typical A-F academic grading scale. I'll also not reveal too many specific details of the show, because the tour is not over yet. I don't want to completely spoil it for people who have tickets to the remaining dates.

Then, next week will be a "double shot" Monday of Motley Crue and KISS music to close out the month even though it will be the fourth Monday of the month instead of the second. Following that in October, and lasting through the end of the year, we will get back on our usual Music Monday schedule, but I will tone down the volume some. I will change things up by playing very little metal but more classic rock from the '80s, throw in some '70s, and other genres. However, for today, let's get on to the review of Motley Crue / KISS.

Song Mix

Mötley Crüe
Mötley Crüe (Photo credit: - bjornsphoto -)
The warmup band was called The Treatment. I had never heard of them before, and they were o.k., but when they were done, I was ready for Motley Crue. The Crue started their set, which lasted a little over an hour, with "The Saints of Los Angeles." They ended their set with my favorite all-time Crue song - "Kickstart My Heart." In between, they played a bunch of Crue classics, including "Wild Side," "Girls, Girls, Girls," "Dr. Feelgood," "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)," "Shout at the Devil," "Home Sweet Home," and others. It was a great set except for one song - "Sex." I had not heard it before and wish I still hadn't. I would have given the Crue an A+ on the set, but "Sex" was so bad it pulled the grade down to an A- and probably should be a B.

KISS got on the stage after about a 30-minute intermission and started their set off great never letting up. They began with "Detroit Rock City" and finished with "Rock 'N Roll All Nite." They also played a little more than an hour performing classic after classic, including "I Love It Loud," "Lick It Up," "Heaven's On Fire," "Calling Dr. Love," "Love Gun," and many others. KISS gets a solid A for their set.


My analysis of the way the two bands sounded is very simple - Motley Crue sounded like amateurs at best and KISS sounded like pros. The difference in the sound of the two bands was like night and day. Motley Crue's sound was loud but extremely distorted and fuzzy, while KISS was loud but crystal clear. Motley Crue was so bad that I wore ear plugs (something I seldom do at concerts), and they didn't even filter out the distortion to an acceptable level. If I hadn't known all the songs they played, I wouldn't have recognized them nor the lyrics Vince Neil was singing. KISS, on the other hand, was so clear that I had to remove the ear plugs in order for the sound of the guitars to be nice and vivid and in order to hear everything clearly. Motley Crue was very disappointing in this area. They need to fire their sound guys (and / or gals) and hire the ones working for KISS. Motley Crue gets a D, and if I wasn't a fan it would likely be an F. KISS gets another A.

Special Effects

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04:  Gene Simmons and P...
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of US rock group Kiss perform live on stage, for a one-off Independence Day show as a fundraiser for the Help for Heroes charity, at The Kentish Town Forum on July 4, 2012 in London, England. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Both bands are known for using pyrotechnics and other gimmicks in their shows. They didn't disappoint that night. Both bands used a number of explosions, lasers, and fireworks during their set. These were awesome on both sides. However, there were two things I didn't care for. First, Motley Crue's use of "the exotic dancers," as my wife called them, didn't add anything to the show. They were clothed, but barely. I found myself thinking, "If I had wanted to see strippers, I would have went to a strip joint. It would have been cheaper than buying a concert ticket." On second thought, maybe not. If I had went to such an establishment, my wife would have killed me, so technically it would not have been "cheaper."

The second thing I didn't care for was Gene Simmons "blood-spitting" act. I know it's his gimmick, and he's been doing it for years. I know it's one of the things he's known for. I get that, but it doesn't mean I have to like it. On special effects, I'll give both Motley Crue and KISS B's marking them down a little due to the two things mentioned.


Some may say I'm a little picky with my "other" category. Here, I'm gonna evaluate something that has always been a pet peeve of mine at rock concerts - the band doing a lot of talking in between songs. It drives me nuts. I don't buy a ticket to listen to them run them mouths. I buy a ticket to listen to their music. This is one area that .38 Special excels in. I've heard them play 3 or 4 times, and each time they didn't do a bunch of talking in between songs. They just played and played and played. Plus, generally when rock musicians get to talking, it leads to a bunch of cussing. Excessive cussing bugs me not just at rock concerts but in life in general as well. If that's the only way you know how to talk, then let me give you a piece of advice - just keep your mouth shut, because it makes you look like an imbecile.

Now, before I go to far down this road, let me say two things. First, I understand that cussing is a part of rock 'n roll. I get that and some cussing doesn't bother me. However, when someone or someones insist on using bad language every other word, it turns me off, because it is uncalled for. Second, I am not someone who is all high and mighty and expects no one to ever cuss. Let's be honest - at some point, each and every one of us is gonna get mad or stub a toe and utter something we shouldn't. Heck, sometimes we occasionally cuss as part of every day conversation. I get that, too. I'm guilty of it. Furthermore, I think that for any of us to expect a complete absence of bad language in every day life is unrealistic, because we are human. Nobody's perfect.

I bring cussing up as part of my review of this concert because of the excessive amount of it that Motley Crue, particularly Tommy Lee and Vince Neil, spewed. I know they pride themselves on being the "bad boys of rock 'n roll" but what I heard on September 4th was ridiculous. It was as if Tommy and Vince were having a contest to see which one of them was the "best cusser." I've seen Motley Crue in concert twice before - in 1989 during the Dr. Feelgood Tour and in 1994 in support of their self-titled album Motley Crue, when John Corabi was lead singer. They used some bad language then but nothing of the magnitude they did the other night. Instead of mellowing as they get older, they are simply getting raunchier. I found myself thinking, "Guys, we bought tickets to hear you play your music, not cuss your heads off. If that's what I had wanted to hear, there's many other places I could have gone to do so, and it would have been a lot cheaper. Shut up and play." So, in the "other" category, the Crue boys get a big fat F. I'm not cutting them a break here like I did on their sound.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04:  Gene Simmons of US...
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Gene Simmons of US rock group Kiss performs live on stage, for a one-off Independence Day show as a fundraiser for the Help for Heroes charity, at The Kentish Town Forum on July 4, 2012 in London, England. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Here's the interesting thing about "other" in regards to this concert. Just as Motley Crue cussed their heads off, KISS did NOT use one single word of profanity - none, nada, zilch. Gene Simmons even kept his language clean. I was surprised, but pleasantly so. KISS put on an awesome show without using any profanity. Why couldn't Motley Crue do the same ? KISS proved that a band can put on a great rock 'n roll show without the cussing. Therefore, they get an A++.


My review may come off as if I did not enjoy the show. The fact is that I did for one simple reason - KISS. September 4th was the first time I have ever seen KISS in concert, but it will likely not be the last. Their show, including the music, their loud, clear sound, the pyrotechnics, and the song set was awesome. They were even in the makeup, platform shoes, and outfits they are famous for. It was professionally done to say the least. Overall, I'll give them an A. Nicely done guys. Keep on rockin', please.

On the other hand, Motley Crue's part of the show was poor, at best. They acted like, and sounded like, rebellious teenagers who were still practicing in their parents' garage. The only band I've ever heard sound worse, and I've been going to rock concerts for 25 years, was The Bullet Boys when they opened for Cinderella in 1989. Even during their 1994 tour when Vince Neil was absent and John Corabi was the lead singer, Motley Crue sounded better. I expected better, and I know Motley Crue can sound better. I'm giving Motley Crue's show a C, and I am being very generous in doing so. These guys either need to hang it up or regroup and get back to focusing on the music like they did in the '80s. If they don't, this will likely be the last Crue show I'll attend.

Sorry Motley Crue, but here's the deal, and it's very simple - it's about the music, not your mouth. I've been a fan for years because of your music and nothing else. KISS carried the show and bailed you out on September 4th, or I'd be asking for a refund.
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