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Mötley Crüe keeps the metal lifestyle alive at Flint Center--of all places

By Sarah Quelland
Photos by George Sakkestad

Despite the dramatic change in the musical climate since metal ruled the airwaves in the '80s, no one can legitimately say that Mötley Crüe--the legendary bad boys of rock & roll--is a group of has-beens.

Still living the rock-star life with fast women, fast music and plenty of sex, drugs and rock & roll, the Crüe stormed into--of all places--the Flint Center in Cupertino last Thursday (Mar. 18) supported by Noise Therapy. The band proved why it helped define rock & roll music for a generation.

The lighting structure descended like a silver spider and the stage filled with fog before vocalist Vince Neil, bassist Nikki Sixx, drummer Tommy Lee and guitarist Mick Mars burst onto the scene with "Dr. Feelgood." When they hit the stage, the crowd exploded and there were more hands raised in the sign of the devil than I've seen before.

It was interesting to find such a mixed audience, from older fans wearing their ancient Crüe shirts to younger fans who looked like they had just cleared out the local Hot Topic. Also fascinating is the way in which the band appeals so strongly to both men and women. These rock gods are heroes and avidly worshipped. Guys want to be just like them; girls just want them (particularly Lee after his, ah, revealing, adult video with Pamela Lee).

Motley Crue

Launching into "Girls, Girls, Girls," the Crüe was in fine form both musically and physically. If anything, Sixx and Lee are better-looking than ever. Neil hasn't lost his sex appeal, and even the ever-ghoulish Mars looked better than usual, although I overheard some guy in the audience say, "I think Mick Mars is going to die."

No self-respecting Crüe show would be complete without topless assistants, so the band supplied professional dancers as part of the entertainment. Girls from the audience also found their way onstage and danced with Neil during "Girls, Girls, Girls."

Although the band's older material had people screaming and singing along, the newer material, including that from Generation Swine, left the audience largely subdued. Luckily, the band focused on the classics and frequently took it back a few years with songs like "Live Wire," "Looks That Kill" and "Shout at the Devil," during which a sexy nun chased a naughty Catholic school girl around the stage with a ruler. Once again, the audience was a sea of devil horns, raising up with every "Shout!"

Motley Crue

When the song ended, Lee, who's been in the news of late due to his well-publicized abusive altercation with estranged wife Pamela Lee, stepped out from behind his drum kit and walked to the front of the stage. "Speak of the devil," he announced, "here I am."

Addressing his jail time, he thanked the audience, calling everyone his brothers and sisters and stating, "I felt each and every one of you sending me love. I love you all." Then he made the sign of the cross over his chest. The supportive crowd went wild.

Not one to dwell, Lee lightened the mood after his monologue, saying he wanted to see some "titties." If there had been hesitation about flashing before, there wasn't now. Many, many girls flashed their breasts and some remained topless for the duration of the concert.

This being the Greatest Hits tour, the band moved through all its favorites, including "Wild Side," "Home, Sweet, Home," "Primal Scream," "Same Ol' Situation," "Smokin' in the Boy's Room" and the adrenalin-charged "Kickstart My Heart." The band also played a new song from the Greatest Hits album titled "Enslaved." After taking its leave, the Crüe returned for an encore with a cover of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K."

Motley Crue

Mötley Crüe lived up to its reputation for putting on a full-blown rock & roll show. The only real drawback was the venue. The Flint Center isn't well-suited for a rock show. With nothing but assigned seating, I felt as if I were watching the concert in a movie theater. You can't easily move around either, which can be a real disadvantage. Between the old stoner who tried to cover my eyes every time a topless fan was onstage, the girl simulating sex against her boyfriend's back and the guy who spent the entire show turned away from the stage looking like he was ready to kill someone, I was really wishing I had some maneuvering room. But that's no reflection on the band.

On a side note, miles away at the Edge in Palo Alto, ska-punk band Less Than Jake, which was performing that night, apparently in all sincerity, chided the audience for not catching the Crüe show instead. That in itself says a lot about Mötley Crüe's far-reaching influence and appeal.

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Web extra to the March 25-31, 1999 issue of Metro.

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