By Brian Aberback
The good news: Motley Crue fires on all cylinders and turns in a vintage performance on their new concert DVD/CD. The bad news: It’s their final performance. But “The End – Live in Los Angeles” is a fitting finale to one of the truly great hard rock bands of the past three decades.
The show, recorded on New Year’s Eve 2015 at the Staples Center, is a testament to the power of Motley Crue’s music, live performance and massive stage production. The set spans the band’s career, with the Crue rocking out in fine form on classics like “Live Wire,” “Shout at the Devil,” “Looks That Kill,” “Dr. Feelgood” and many more.
The show stars with the familiar revving of motorcycle engines that can mean only one song: “Girls, Girls Girls.” In a frenzy of pyro, an unmistakable riff and pounding rhythms, singer Vince Neil, bassist Nikki Sixx, drummer Tommy Lee and guitarist Mick Mars take the stage one last time.
The band follows with the raunchy “Wild Side” and underrated “Primal Screen” before venturing into “Dr. Feelgood” territory with “Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)” and “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away).”
Neil has faced a torrent of harsh criticism in recent years for not possessing the same vocal prowess he showed in the band’s heyday. But he hits the mark on “The End,” powering the band on “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” and hitting his signature high notes throughout. He sounds much better than even three or four years ago.
Sixx and Lee are the showmen. Sixx’s bass doubles as a flamethrower during “Shout at the Devil,” while Lee’s drum solo takes place aboard a custom-made rollercoaster, allowing him to hit the kit upside down. A technical malfunction cuts the solo short, but that’s ok, because it just gives Mars more time to shred as he takes the spotlight with a furious guitar solo.
The guitarist may not be able to move around stage anymore due to a crippling spinal disease, but his performance is no less energetic and all the more inspiring. In fact, Mars is the MVP here, rolling off classic riffs on song after song. While Sixx will always embody the heart, soul and brash attitude of Motley Crue, Mars’ guitar muscle steals the show.
The band ends the set with “Kickstart My Heart” and encores with an emotional rendition of their hit, “Home Sweet Home,” with Neil getting so choked up that he can’t finish the song’s final hums. Thirty-five years after playing their first show at a Sunset Strip club, Motley Crue have come full circle as the stars they set out to be. It’s good to see them go out on top.
(The DVD’s bonus material includes segments on Sixx’s flamethrower bass, Lee’s rollercoaster drum apparatus and an interview with the band about the tour and their history).