M’lady has…er…encouraged me to go to quite a few Phish concerts that I would have otherwise missed so once in a while I’m happy to return the favour and offer her the opportunity to enjoy a concert she might not otherwise choose to experience.
Case in point: Mötley Crüe at the Palladium on May 14th, 2013 with opening act Big Wreck.
On reflection I would concede that the concerts I have to nudge m’lady to attend generally appeal more to my sense of nostalgia than my current musical tastes and of course this was the case with the Crüe.
When Mötley Crüe first broke with Shout At The Devil I was pretty broke myself and living in Toronto. I was out of work for a time so I spent much of the summer hanging out with the buskers that invariably surrounded the Eaton’s Centre every day and trying to learn how to play the guitar. Someone had given me a no-name electric guitar that I lugged around with me everywhere and whenever one of my busker buddies took a break I would pester them to show me something new that I could practise.
One afternoon I looked up from plunking away on my guitar and noticed a crowd forming at the big Sam The Record Man flagship store that sat pretty much kitty-corner across the street from the Eaton’s Centre. Guitar-in-hand I moseyed up to the back of the line and discovered that Mötley Crüe was hosting an autograph session inside ahead of their concert later that evening at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Due to the band’s soaring popularity the lineup soon swelled to more than ten times the expected crowd of about two hundred fans. So after the first two hundred people filed through the announcement was made that there was no more time for autographs, only a quick handshake with the four band members for the remaining two thousand fans.
Whatever, I had nothing else to do so I kept my place in line.
As I got close I saw the four guys sitting behind a table looking all rock-and-roll and casually saying “hi” to the throng of fans that filed past. When I was next in line something curious happened. There was a pretty girl (and her boyfriend maybe? I forget) chatting with Vince Neil and he leaned in and whispered something in her ear. With a furious look she immediately and without hesitation slapped the singer hard across the face. With barely a flinch Vince actually spat on the girl – point blank – screaming insults at her as she turned and stormed out of the record store.
I walked up kind of shocked, bewildered and a bit sheepish. The band ignored me, talking amongst themselves and coming up with brand-new swear words and insults to hurl at the girl. “Um…” I said.
Nikki Sixx looked up and seeing this young, leather-jacketed, long-haired kid standing there (summer weather had no bearing on my sick sense of style) with his jaw in the floor after witnessing his first real-live dose of hedonistic rock and roll, he grabbed my crappy electric guitar and quickly scribbled his name across the front with a black Sharpie. I pulled myself together enough to ask Mick Mars for a guitar pick, he gave me one and just like that I was back outside on the sidewalk.
Of course I couldn’t afford to go to the concert that night and didn’t end up seeing them for almost a decade, but if that long-ago experience at the autograph session wasn’t enough to tickle my nostalgia bone, a skin-crawling rock and roll moment from the Mötley Crüe concert I did see (which is, of course, another story altogether) was easily enough to push me over the edge.
Anyway, the concert I dragged m’lady to wasn’t overtly memorable or at all necessary to have attended. I don’t remember Big Wreck’s opening set at all, and of course the Crüe played all the hits you’d expect. They played them correctly and it was rockin’ enough, but it wasn’t enough to convert m’lady into the Mötley Crüe fan club, and I can’t blame her.
Of course the show included Tommy Lee’s obligatory over-the-top (literally and figuratively) hydraulic solo, an embarrassing exhibition that is as patently uncool as it is blatantly unnecessary. Every tour brings yet another subtle variation of Lee’s silly drum-kit-hovering-over-the-audience-and/or-spinning-upside-down drum solo section. Maybe it’s a Jimi Hendrix thing, I don’t know, but I bet that between the crazy amount of equipment and the extra insurance required to carry a nearly-naked tattooed drumming boytoy over a screaming audience raises my ticket price by a good twelve to fifteen bucks, and I could easily do without it.
Dr. Feelgood…Girls, Girls, Girls…Kickstart My Heart; whatever. It was the musical equivalent of my old Happy Days lunchbox and almost as much fun, but for some reason I just gotta have it.