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Concert Reviews:
Motley Crue, Alice Cooper turn The Palace into home, sweet home for one night
 

By GARY GRAFF
Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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AUBURN HILLS -- Familiarity has not bred contempt or indifference for Motley Crue fans in metro Detroit.

A healthy, albeit not sold out, crowd of exuberant Crueheads turned out on Sunday night, Aug. 9, at The Palace for the Los Angeles hard rock quartet's third area appearance in 12 months on its purported Final Tour. Fortunately, the 16-song, hour-and-50 minute performance featured a revamped set list, a retooled stage and some new special effects, which put a fresh spin on what's been through the market already.

And it may well have been the best of the three shows, with the Crue comfortably dialed in and savoring the spoils of 35 years of music-making.

The spectacle was, as usual, filled with all manner of pyrotechnics -- enough, in fact, to populate a major metro area's entire retinue of Four of July celebrations. From the opening "Girls, Girls, Girls" to the main set-closing "Kickstart My Heart," barely a song went by without something going boom or flames shooting from rear-stage turrets -- or, in the case of "Shout at the Devil," a flamethrower tank on Nikki Sixx's bass. And the Crue went characteristically over the top for Tommy Lee's drum solo, during which he road an overhead track -- playing upside down and rightside up -- out to the center of the arena and back again.

During "Kickstart My Heart," Sixx and frontman Vince Neil flew above the crowd in airborne carriers, and for the encore "Home Sweet Home" the group trekked out to the "Crue's Next" on The Palace floor, hoisted high via hydraulic lifts -- along with a dozen lucky fans -- as it performed the lovelorn anthem.

The Crue members acknowledged Detroit as one of their favorite cities, but there were no tears shed or drawn-out messages of farewell. Instead the Crue went out rocking, loading the show with career-spanning favorites such as "Wildside," "Primal Scream," "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)," "Shout at the Devil" and "Dr. Feelgood" and tossing in a few deep cuts such as "Mutha... Of the Year" and "Louder Than Hell. Neil still, sadly, missed an alarming number of notes and lyrics, but guitarist Mick Mars was worth the price of admission -- so spot-on during the actually songs, in fact, that his six-minute solo segment, which allowed Lee to unstrap himself from his roller coaster ride, was superfluous.

It of course remains to be seen if this is truly the final Crue tour or the last one until the next farewell tour. If it's the former, however, the group said goodbye to Detroit in a winning fashion.

Hometown hero Alice Cooper, meanwhile, set a high bar for the Crue to match, following openers The Cringe (Rachael Ray's husband John Cusimano's band) shoehorning almost all of his key tracks and shock-rock theatrics into an impressively compact 65-minute set. The prop-filled performance -- also altered from the tour's last time through, during November at Joe Louis Arena -- featured everything from Cooper's crutch-waving rendition of "Eighteen," a "Go To Hell" sung with a snake draped around his shoulders, a giant, Kabuki-style puppet singing and dancing during "Go To Hell," and the notorious "beheading" sequence after "The Ballad of Dwight Fry," performed with Cooper's wife Cheryl playing a diabolical nurse.

Cooper and his band accomplished more in a support slot than many headliners achieve, which, combined with the Crue's spectacle, made for a night of music that was greater than the sum of its parts and well worth its repeat visit.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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