MOTLEY CRUE AND SLASH ABSOLUTELY KILL IN BERLIN
Europe is a great place for rock gigs. It is relatively close to the US, and we still have our own fair share of good rock music — especially up in the North, where places like Sweden and Norway have developed their own young hard rock scenes.
This time however I went on to see two artists that are no bunch of greenhorns. Both Are established, world renowned hard rock heavyweights. Earlier this summer a double bill of Motley Crue and Slash And The Conspirators (together with Myles Kennedy) hit Europe for a short tour. One of their stops was to be Berlin, the capital of Germany. As it is not far from the hard rock dry county where I live I couldn’t miss the opportunity.
The gig started very early, about 6 pm, with a warm-uppers Black Veil Brides. I had mixed feelings about this band even before the show. They seem to be excellent technically, they have a tight rhythm section and the drummer is very stable, but I am not really fond of lead singer Andy Biersack‘s screamo style of singing… err screaming (fun fact, in German his surname means ‘Beer bag’, which is kind of cool). Their gig reinforced my opinion — great musicians but average singer, in my opinion.
After a short set from Black Veil Brides in came the first headliner — Slash and his band. It was earlier stated that Motley Crue and Slash would co-headline the tour, though it was later revealed that Motley Crue would always finish the show. I should correct myself at this moment, calling the musicians playing this gig with the former Guns N’ Roses guitarist just ‘his band’ would be an understatement. Musically they were top notch, and apart from that they did leave an impression. Bass player Todd Kerns was a demon, head-banging and running all around the stage, warming people up to sing along and pump their fists. Drummer Brent Fitz did an excellent job, and showed that good drumming can also be quite a show. Singer Myles Kennedy is a talent all his own — a lot of fans tend to agree that he really shines. Even when handling the classic Guns N’ Roses material he manages to stand toe to toe with Axl Rose in his prime, putting the original of today way behind him. Kennedy proved that during the Rock’n Roll Hall of Fame, as well as the Berlin show I attended. He handled the Guns N’ Roses songs with such ease it was almost scary, while the rest of material didn’t cause him any problems either. The band’s set was an equal mix of Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and Slash‘s material from his two recent solo albums. The band was great, and main man Slash was everywhere — firing off killer solos and giving the show a special vibe. A lot of people say that Slash‘s guitar playing is unique, but you have to hear it (and see it) live to get the full experience. This guy is the embodiment of Rock n Roll.
Next up was a whole band consisting of such embodiments. Motley Crue started with one of their all-time classics “Wild Side”, and after that things got even edgier with “Live Wire” and “Too Fast For Love”. The only thing I regretted was that, while having a shitload of hits in their catalogue, Motley Crue almost completely ignored their recent material. The only song they played from their great last release ‘Saint’s Of Los Angeles’ was the title track. This baffled me a bit as they have a handful of good tunes on that album and they were not afraid to play some of them live on recent tours. Anyway the set was really a classic Motley Crue setlist with the band playing all their greatest hits from their heyday with a one new song thrown in.
The set list is one thing, but the execution was the other. I’ve heard a lot of rumors recently that the ‘Motley Boys’ are not in a good shape — that Tommy Lee lost his viciousness, that Mick Mars is barely moving, that Nikki Sixx is letting himself go, and that Vince Neil is pulling off his classic ‘singing every fourth line’ routine. Well after seeing their Berlin show I say… bullshit — with full confidence. Tommy is a wild man, playing really hard, taking huge swings, and really being a showman. His 360 drum solo, during which he took one girl from the audience for the ride of her life, was a rhythm feast for both ears and eyes. Nikki may not be running as much as he used too, and he may put on some weight, but he played solidly and I noticed more skill in his bass playing than before. Mick completely surprised me as I, being aware of his condition, was expecting just good music, but he actually was moving all the time. He seemed like he really enjoyed every minute of the show, and while obviously strained by his disease, he seemed to put out his best effort.
Vince… well, Vince is Vince. He did sing at least half of the lines to the majority of songs, but I wouldn’t put that on his laziness, but rather on the attempt to make people sing along with the band (which they did, as all the songs played were well known to any ‘Crue head’). All in all he was really putting an effort into helping people have fun and enjoy the show by running around the stage all the time, pumping fists, and encouraging sing-alongs. And one more thing needs to be said — when Vince Neil screams, everybody hears it. He really seemed to have done some vocal exercises, as his voice was in really good shape — at least during this show.
All in all Motley Crue‘s gig was what it needed to be… a rock show at its finest that even exceeded my expectations. The pyros, the energy, the girls, the roller coaster drum solos, and on top of that timeless hard rock music by one of the genre’s classics. The show ended with the ‘Crue’ splashing people with some red liquid that was obviously used to create the impression of fake blood (a bit cheesy, but a surprise nonetheless). After that, no less than four hours of music, I went back home soaking wet in red liquid, half deaf, exhausted from head banging, but very very very satisfied.
Motley Crue and Slash proved that people yapping that rock is dead don’t know shit — with a strong middle finger salute!