The rock n’ roll circus came to Green Bay on April 5th when Motley Crue rolled into town with their band of misfits and metal heads on the Red, White and Crue tour. As the poster boys for an “excess is best” lifestyle, it’s interesting to see how the aging rockers still hold up over time. Although not a sold out show (about 80% full), the band was welcomed back with open arms after a 15 year absence since their last GB performance.

There was apparently some communication issues at the start of the show, which should have started at 7:30pm. According to the Crue’s crew, they had a start time of 8:15pm, which they also did not make. It was more like 8:30pm before the lights went down, but since when has a rock n’ roll show ever started on time?

Starting out with a brief clip of Disaster: The Movie, the Crue then hit the stage with a vengeance. They focused on their early songs during the first set, all the while surrounded by flames, sparks, dancers, clowns, midgets, fire breathers, bombs, and fireworks. Songs such as “Looks That Kill” and “Too Fast For Love” still hold up over time, and came across well in a live setting. Either the crowd was unfamiliar with many of the early songs, or just in awe of everything in front of them.

After a brief intermission, the band came back out playing more of their radio friendly hits and crowd favorite songs. From “Girls, Girls, Girls” to “Kickstart My Heart”, the crowd sang every word back to the band. Absent from the hits being performed was Motley’s version of “Smokin’ In The Boys Room”, which was the song that started their crossover appeal on M-TV and on the radio waves. They also played two of their new songs: “If I Die Tomorrow” and “Sick Love Song”. Although the crowd cheered after each new song, it was clear that they were there for the nostalgia.

Singer Vince Neil was impressive throughout the show. A few years ago I witnessed the then overweight singer at a solo show, struggling to get the words out to each song and staggering drunk. Sure, he still relies on the crowd a little bit to help him sings songs like “Dr. Feelgood” or “Shout At The Devil”. But considering the length of the concert and the rapid-fire way these songs are sung, it’s forgivable.

Although it was painful to watch guitarist Mick Mars play, it was also a treat. Affected by a degenerative bone condition called “anklosing spondylitis”, it causes him to hunch over while moving stiff and slow. The disease hasn’t effected his playing though. His hands worked their magic over the guitar, almost as if they belonged to someone else. He is easily one of the most under-rated guitarists around, either from the 80’s or today.

Tommy Lee, who has become a mini-celebrity outside of Motley Crue, was less than impressive. Most will argue that he is the ultimate drumming showman. I won’t deny this, as he is a solid player and has a great stage presence. But after much hype over his drum solo, it was simply him triggering some electronic drumbeats as he flew from one kit to another high in the air. I can appreciate that he doesn’t want to stay pigeon holed as a hair metal drummer and he now has a newfound love for electronic and club beats. But Motley Crue is about rock and rebellion, not techno sampled beats.

Nikki Sixx is basically the glue that holds this band together. He is always a strong, solid force both on the stage and off. He had his own solo of sorts, which I’m still trying to figure out. While plunking out some cords on a keyboard, he was engulfed by a shower of sparks. This was followed by the band cranking out “Dr. Feelgood”, and somehow they made it work.

The encore, consisting of covers “Helter Skelter” and “Anarchy In The UK”, seemed to fall a bit short since they already played all their big hits. But overall, the concert was highly entertaining and definitely worth the going price for tickets these days. Fans paid for the concert, but their admission to the circus was free.