Motley Crue’s Final Tour Is a Must-See: Here are Six(x) Reasons Why

Motley Crue’s Vince Neil performs in “The Final Tour”
Jim Hill

 Motley Crue’s Vince Neil performs in “The Final Tour” kickoff at the SMG-managed Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI on July 2, 2014. 

L.A.’s baddest boys are taking a full-throttle victory lap on their Final Tour.

Roughly 15,000 people filled PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., on Aug. 30 to see Motley Crue before the band retires from the road.

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After 100 million albums, 33 years, five biographies and countless acts of debauchery, the notorious rock group announced in January that it was quitting while the quitting was good, and even signed a “cessation of touring” agreement that prevents it from reuniting as Motley Crue after the end of 2015. The band that was determined to do things its own way -- and who took any resistance as a personal rebuke -- is finishing its road history on its own terms.

The finale offers six(x) reasons why you should witness the blaze of glory.

1. Enough pyro to vanquish the Terminator. Early in its career Motley was slagged as having nothing going for it but cheap shock tactics like setting bassist Nikki Sixx’s pants afire with lighter fluid. That was a faint indication of what was to come: The band knew early in the game that great visuals were crucial to its overall package. Motley is signing off with an Armageddon-sized display of flames, cannon blasts and sparks that could make you think America’s independence had just been declared. One-time pyro guinea pig Sixx now uses his instrument as a flame thrower to casually spray a plume of fire across half the stage.

2. The set list is golden. Whether you love vintage Motley, its hair-metal apex or its post-millennium resurgence, every Crue fan will leave satisfied with the music and the enthusiasm with which it’s delivered. Early-’80s classics “Looks That Kill” and “Too Young to Fall in Love” are offered alongside “Dr. Feelgood,” “Kickstart My Heart” and post-2000s “Saints of Los Angeles” and “Mutherf—--- of the Year.” The band played nearly 20 songs without letup -- Motley came into this world kicking and screaming, and it’s proudly going out the same way. Drummer Tommy Lee pounded his modest (by his standards) kit as if it he was trying to punish it, and in spite of being hindered by a degenerative form of arthritis, guitarist Mick Mars still remains in total control of his dexterous fingers.

3. Grown-ups can unleash the rebel yell. When Motley played its quintessential hit “Shout at the Devil” (a heart-pumping show highlight), thousands of mid-lifers were transported back to 1983. The reason why parents saddled with mortgages and car payments gathered to pump their fits and holler the defiant song’s chorus is because, perhaps even more so than when they were teens, Motley’s core fans need a release valve -- and a reminder that no matter how old they are, they can always remain rebels at heart.

4. This band wasn’t supposed to survive. The explosive finale that was “Kickstart My Heart” could be an illustration of the combustive drama (much of self-perpetuated) that’s been Motley since day one. Lethal overdoses, jail sentences, divorces, lawsuits ... the stories of numerous controversies have filled several biographies. Lee and singer Vince Neil both exited at various points, and their presence adds heft to the band’s last run. Most acts don’t get to call it a day with all of its original members accounted for; at least these guys can get long well enough for one more trip around the world.

5. But even Motley isn’t immune to the hourglass. Believe it or not, the self-proclaimed miscreants want their final bow to be dignified instead of a slow disintegration. For Motley, that means employing two scantily-clad dancers to gyrate onstage; having Mars weave a face-melting guitar solo; tearing off the roof with “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” The Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy,” perennial strip-club favorite “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Live Wire”; and ending the night with its traditional finale of “Home Sweet  Home.” Motley’s never been warm and fuzzy, but watching vintage pictures of the band float across the jumbo video screens underscored how far Sixx, Neil, Lee and Mars came in 30-plus years.

6. Meanwhile, Alice Cooper remains eternal. The Godfather of Shock rock joined the Final Tour as a special guest. At 66, Cooper has declared that he doesn’t plan on retiring, and his stage show confirms that he shouldn’t. Per usual, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member packed three guitarists, Halloween-style decorations, a boa constrictor, a realistic-looking beheading and macabre fashion choices into his set while he dramatically gestured and postured to his music. Backed by an extremely tight band, Cooper got the party started with “Be My Frankenstein,” “I’m Eighteen,” “Poison” and “Welcome to My Nightmare.” As he wrapped up his time slot with a rousing performance of “School’s Out,” Cooper’s final surprise was unexpectedly in its simplicity: Instead of bringing out another reptile or bloody prop, the stage was bathed in a cloud of bubbles.