Mötley Crüe, SECC, Glasgow

Something wrinkly this way comes
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Make no mistake. Mötley Crüe are trash. Genuine, bona fide white trash. Rabid dogs. Human sewer-rats. OK, so we don't need them any more. After all, we've got Towers Of London: twice as white (deprived of all that Californian sunshine), twice as trashy, twice as disreputable, and about a hundred times as likely to get arrested. Arguably, we didn't even need them by 1987, when they were comprehensively outgunned by Axl and Slash. But my God, they were the real deal. For proof, you only need to read The Dirt, the glam-metal quartet's famously frank, filthy, warts-and-all autobiography.

Make no mistake. Mötley Crüe are trash. Genuine, bona fide white trash. Rabid dogs. Human sewer-rats. OK, so we don't need them any more. After all, we've got Towers Of London: twice as white (deprived of all that Californian sunshine), twice as trashy, twice as disreputable, and about a hundred times as likely to get arrested. Arguably, we didn't even need them by 1987, when they were comprehensively outgunned by Axl and Slash. But my God, they were the real deal. For proof, you only need to read The Dirt, the glam-metal quartet's famously frank, filthy, warts-and-all autobiography.

And so, even though the Crüe never broke the UK Top 20 in their hedonistic heyday, there's still a thrill seeing the four of them onstage. Vince Neil, once a pretty-boy blond surf dude, has put on a few pounds and now looks like a retired WWF wrestler gone to seed, but still has that authentic Ronnie James Dio meeetaaal! screech. Nikki Sixx has been luckier in keeping his looks (although, if you believe the rock folklore that he was replaced by a lookalike following a fatal car accident, perhaps luck doesn't come into it), still sporting that big black ratted hair copied from his idol Johnny Thunders. Nowadays, there's no part of his body that has not been tattooed, and his bass is wallpapered in porn, and a (presumably ironic, as he once dabbled in Satanism) "Jesus Loves You" sticker. Tommy Lee, the son of a former Miss Greece who learned ballet as a child, is also well-preserved (his "Mayhem" tattoo still adorns a flat stomach), although he sensibly opts for Pierrot make-up to prevent too close an examination.

The freakiest sight of all is Mick Mars, the guitarist. With his skull and crossbones topper, stiff movements and crinkled upper lip, he looks like Alice Cooper's dad. He's perhaps the oldest-looking man I've ever seen on a stage. At one point he has two guitars around his neck at the same time, perhaps because he's forgotten to take one of them off.

There is some taut, youthful flesh onstage tonight. It doesn't belong to the Crüe, though, but to the exotic dancers, climbing rope ladders in fetish boots, basques and Gestapo caps.

Musically, Mötley Crüe were neither groundbreaking nor great. On their early albums they specialised in souped-up Seventies glam ("Kickstart My Heart" blatantly borrows from Sixx's idols The Sweet) with riffs as badass and dirty as the umlauts on their logo, until they went glam-lite. It's as well, then, that this show isn't merely a case of four ageing musos marching on and playing some shit-kicking riffs for a couple of hours.

"Loudest Show On Earth" (as the above-stage billing has it)? No. The sleaziest? Maybe... It's a true spectacular under a red/white striped circus big top, with trapeze acts, a "mini-me" dwarf dead-ringer for Vince (dragged about on a leash and whipped by a dominatrix), a woman in a steel bra sending a shower of sparks cascading off her C-cup with a power drill, and a puerile gross-out film compilation at half time (I find out the sexual meanings of "Black On Red", "Brown Wings" and "Golden Wings", but I rather wish I hadn't). During "Red Hot", the pyros are so heart-stoppingly powerful that they blow up some crucial piece of equipment, necessitating an awkward pause while it's fixed. Oh, and the backline is on fire. Literally.

The more familiar songs - "Shout At The Devil", "Girls Girls Girls" and "Doctor Feelgood" - are all jolly air-punching stuff, and during their one power-ballad "Home Sweet Home", when the band fall silent as the entire crowd sings it for them, it's a true lump-in-throat moment (even though the song is, objectively, pretty rubbish).

s.price@independent.co.uk

Wembley Arena, London (08700 600870), tonight; Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle (0191 260 5000), Tuesday

Comments