JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

June 7, 2011
Gexa Energy Pavilion
Dallas, TX USA
Review by David Huff
Photos by Michael Insuaste

Motley Crue - Motley Crue, Poison, New York Dolls

Let's make no mistake here. There is no love loss between Motley Crue and Poison. They weren't friends in the '80s, and they definitely aren't buddies now. The buffer making this unlikely union possible are the New York Dolls. Without this iconic glitter rock outfit redefining the rules of rock in the '70s, neither of the aforementioned bands would be here today. So, when you look at this celebration of rock in those terms, it all makes sense. In fact, instead of referring to this alliance as an anniversary of sorts, it would be more apt to pronounce this summer long parade as the Dominance (the Crue) and Submission (Poison) Tour.

Before I get into the nuts and bolts of the uneasy alliance, I want to say a few things about the New York Dolls. First off, it's a real shame more people didn't appreciate, or even see, the Dolls when they were performing on stage. Despite the sweltering heat, this band simply put on a great rock and roll show. The original Dolls, singer David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, were backed by an amazing lineup that included Earl Slick on guitar, Kenny Aaronson, bass and Jason Sutter on drums. These world class musicians lit up the stage backing up Johansen, who at times on stage, did his best Mick Jagger interpretations. The former Buster Poindexter played a mean harmonica as well.

The problem with the Dolls, unfortunately, is they never had a memorable hit song for the public to absorb. Musicians loved the band and were inspired to make music in their image. Unfortunately, in today's always shifting social media world, there name denotes nothing but an asterisk. And that's too bad. Most people in the crowd just had no clue how important the Dolls were to shaping a generation of music they were about to enjoy later this evening. The moment may have been lost on the crowd, but it certainly wasn't overlooked by Vince Neil. He stood off to the side of the stage to admire the band that was responsible for changing the course of his life and many of his fellow musical brethren as well.

And then it came time for Poison! After 25 years of watching the unexpected rise, and dramatic fall of this band, only to be resurrected again, I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. Bret Michaels' pre-recorded announcement before the group walked on stage prevented it. Yeah, the reality TV star just had to tell the thousands that had flocked into the amphitheater that he, Bret Michaels, and not Poison, was hosting a rock and roll cruise in February 2012. With that bit of self-absorbed business out of the way, it was time to start the party with the flippant C.C. Deville launching into "Look What the Cat Dragged In". Boy did it ever.

I'll admit it's hard for me to be totally objective when it comes to Poison. I actually chronicled in the pages of Jam Magazine this group's four-year rise, like a Phoenix from the ashes, to universal acclaim. I also saw them implode with a bit of glee. The mercurial transformation of Rockett, DeVille, Dall and Michaels into actual rock stars has been nothing short of astonishing. They have undeniable appeal to a new generation of fans who want nothing but a good time when Poison steps on stage. This ragtag outfit did not disappoint them. Michaels skillfully guided the band, and the crowd, like a seasoned symphony conductor through an hour of Poison nostalgia.

Although this band performed all the mandatory hits, the real rub for me was the attitude, or lack of it, on display from DeVille, Dall and Michaels. Maybe I'm being too cynical, but it just looked like these three were going through the motions on stage. Tonight, Bret just happened to be playing in his other band. Yes, he saluted our soldiers. Yeah, he high-fived the crowd and told them to wave arms during "Something to Believe In". But again, this was opening night, and the spark and energy usually associated with the first show seemed to be lacking.

Maybe I let Michael's preshow cruise ship announcement bother way too much. Regardless, I certainly sensed something just wasn't right in Whoville. An uninspired C.C. guitar solo was about as tipid as well, his personality. Dall attempted to inject some energy into the show at times, but for the most part, he was content to play the bass like he had done hundreds of times before.

On a more serious note, if anyone truly needed attention - especially medical attention - it had to be poor Rikki Rockett! Seriously, the drummer must have felt like a roasted marshmallow up there on stage when those flash pods of fire roared into action behind him. The heat generated from the flames, constantly erupting on both sides of Rockett's drum set, were extremely intense. Every time fire burst forth behind Rockett, I could feel the heat blast all the way back on the 11th row where I was standing. Let me tell you, if there had been any type of a fuse attached to the drummer during the show, he would have exploded from his hot seat time and time again. Part of me laughed my ass off, while the other half felt genuine pity for him.

If anyone wears Poison on their sleeve 24 / 7, it's Rockett. For the rest of the band, Poison has become and easy source of cash for them. All they have to do is stomach each other for a few months every year or two on the road, and they're done. Rikki, well, let's just say he has mixed feelings about the Celebrity Apprentice. That said, the group powered through all their hits effortlessly and the audience ate it up. They heard the songs they wanted to see performed, cheers went up during guitar and drum solos, and overall, the crowd really dug the music Poison was throwing their way.

Any thoughts that Poison would even slightly overshadow Motley Crue ,were dispelled in unexpected fashion, when suddenly the stage erupted in a series of explosions that took the audience completely by surprise. Before the ringing in the eardrums subsided, the curtain had come down and Vince Neil was already singing "Kneel down ye sinners to streetwise religion / Greed's been crowned the new King." Motley launched into "Wild Side" and relegated Poison to second tier status faster than you can say 'fallen angel'.

Let me tell you something. Nikki Sixx meant business this night. With his signature two streaks of black paint firmly planted on both cheeks, the bass player was a commanding presence on stage. And I do mean commanding. There may have been two sultry female vixens prancing around the stage making some background noise, but it was impossible to take your eyes off the Sixx Sense radio host.

 

 

 

Motley Crue is dominated by the three distinct and powerful personalities in Sixx, Neil and Tommy Lee. The glue that holds it all together is Mick Mars. Over the years, the guitarist has battled a series of health issues including severe arthritis and scoliosis. Though he plays in his own theatre of pain, his presence on guitar brings the Crue to life. Vince apparently stumbled on a lyric or two during the set, requiring him to thrust the mic stand toward the audience for some vocal assistance, but no one cared. Tommy Lee, always one to spring an interesting drum solo on a crowd, didn't disappoint in this department either. His holy-roller drum set saw Lee pound the skins in every imaginable angle on a circumference. The former University of Nebraska band member (yeah, inside joke), even invited a complete stranger from the crowd to strap in and join him. The two gleefully circled the rails, so-to-speak, as Tommy pounded his drums in step with the Ohio Player's "Roller Coaster". It certainly made for an entertaining moment.

I can't believe I'm going to actually say this, but this Dominance and Submission tour, i.e. the M.C. and Poison Anniversary Tour, is actually a very good bill that should do extremely well this summer. The New York Dolls are the perfect appetizer to whet the crowd's thirst for the main course of rock. Poison delivers on its part offering hefty portions of digestable tunes whose primary flavors infused nothing but a good time. But the real looks that killed were the meaty entrees served up by Motley Crue. By evening's end, a sufficiently stuffed crowd was seeing nothing but fireworks!

Motley Crue Setliet
01 -- Wild Side
02 -- Saints of Los Angeles
03 -- Live Wire
04 -- Shout at the Devil
05 -- Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)
06 -- Primal Scream
07 -- Home Sweet Home
08 -- Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
09 -- Drum Solo
10 -- Looks That Kill
11 -- Dr. Feelgood
12 -- Too Young to Fall in Love
13 -- Too Fast for Love
14 -- Girls, Girls, Girls
Encore
15 -- Smokin' In The Boys Room
16 -- Kickstart My Heart

 

Poison Setlist
01 Look What The Cat Dragged In
02 Ride The Wind
03 We're An American Band
04 Something To Believe In
05 Your Mama Don't Dance
06 Guitar Solo
07 Fallen Angel
08 Unskinny Bop
09 Drum Solo
10 Every Rose Has Its Thorn
11 Talk Dirty To Me
12 Nothin' But A Good Time

 

New York Dolls Setlist
01 Personality Crisis
02 We're All In Love
03 Cause I Sez So
04 Talk To Me, Baby
05 I'm So Fabulous
06 Kids Like You
07 Dance Like a Monkey
08 Pills
09 Trash
10 Jet Boy