You wouldn’t think that the younger act on the Motley Crue/Alice Cooper tour would be the ones singing their swan song, but Des Moines was treated to one last evening of decadence when the Crue (excuse my lack of umlauts, please) brought their “The Final Tour” to a sold-out Wells Fargo Arena on Friday night.
When opener Alice Cooper hit the stage, the crowd was ready to welcome him back to Central Iowa with open arms. The rock legend emerged in his red and black striped suit and launched right into “No More Mr. Nice Guy.” At 66, Cooper was darting from left to right of the stage. You would have thought he was half his age with just some premature wrinkling.
Cooper’s 45 minute set was filled with plenty of Cooper classics. “I’m Eighteen,” “Welcome to My Nightmare,” and “Feed My Frankenstein” thrilled the crowd. The latter even included his giant Frankenstein monster lumbering around stage. During “Welcome to My Nightmare,” Cooper draped a live snake around himself. Forever the (side)showman.
Alice Cooper’s stage shows have always been filled with theatrics. For Motley Crue, the only theater that immediately came to mind was “Theater of Pain.” It would be nice if this only referred to their 1985 album. Instead, this well described the early part of the Crue’s set.
It was difficult to tell at first if the mix was bad for Vince Neil, but it soon became apparent that he was already too winded to sing some of the Crue’s hits like “Primal Scream” and “Same Ol’ Situation.” Throughout the night, Vince would take more than a dozen trips to an off stage area where he was getting oxygen, a blood transfusion, or possibly swapped out for a fresher Vince Neil. When Alice Cooper opens your show and Vince Neil looks like the oldest guy on stage, that’s a problem.
Neil’s vocals aside, there’s no denying that Motley Crue still sounds fantastic. Drummer Tommy Lee and bassist Nikki Sixx are clearly the most energetic of the group. It’s been no secret that guitarist Mick Mars’ health was in question even before the band’s final tour began. However, he moved around quite well and contributed his usual backup vocals and extraordinary guitar playing with little to no frills or fanfare.
The production of the show was certainly heavily planned. Lights on lights on lights with smoke, flames, fireworks, confetti, and just about every other legal visual stimulant was thrust upon the Wells Fargo Arena crowd.
Part of the visual stimulation came in the way of Tommy Lee’s nearly 10 minute roller coaster drum solo on an enormous track that stretched nearly the length of the Wells Fargo Arena floor. Atop his “Cruecifly,” Lee showed off his love for drumming to electronic music and even mixed in some Jay-Z, remixed Crue songs, some “I need more cowbell” quotes, and Sam Smith if you can believe it. While cool to see, added with a Mick Mars guitar solo, the band went more than 15 minutes without actually playing a song. That was enough time for Vince to enjoy a $5 Footlong backstage, had he chosen.
As the show neared its end, Neil’s voice got better and he started actually singing more of the songs. The band wrapped up their final stop in Des Moines with a trio of their biggest hits, “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Kickstart My Heart,” and the shows encore closer, “Home Sweet Home.”
Motley Crue will go down as one of the all-time best rock n roll bands. They personified excess, decadence, and the true rock n roll lifestyle. It’s unfortunate that their final show in Des Moines was less a celebration of the band’s 30+ year career and more so a reminder as to why not even the mighty Motley Crue can travel at 110mph forever.
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Under My Wheels
Billion Dollar Babies
Welcome to My Nightmare
Feed My Frankenstein
Ballad of Dwight Fry
I Love the Dead
Saints of Los Angeles
Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)
Looks That Kill
On With the Show
Too Fast for Love
Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room
Mutherf**ker of the Year
Anarchy in the U.K.
Shout at the Devil
Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Drum Solo/Guitar Solo
Too Young to Fall in Love
Girls, Girls, Girls
Kickstart My Heart
Home Sweet Home