Smokin’ Mirrors are swimming with sharks on an arena stage. They’re little fish in a big pond. Basically, take your aquatically-themed metaphor of choice and apply it to their situation.
It’s certainly not something that was lost on them – nor was it an opportunity they intended to waste. The Sydney natives brought their A-game in the face of both an adverse early timeslot and the apathy most arena-rock fans have toward bands whose name is not on the ticket. One could probably argue that they succeeded because of it – and that bigger business awaits these little fish, whose heavy but pop-polished tunes are bound to make a splash when they hit the radio.
It surprised and confused many fans when Alice Cooper took a knee and was announced as the opener for this particular world tour. After all, these are the kind of arenas he’d be used to playing in his own right – and on his own terms, too.
Perhaps it was this that added a little extra kick to his set – with less than an hour of allocated time on stage, there was next to no time to waste. This was a set concerning Cooper, at 68 years of age, still having something to prove and laughing in the face of generational gaps.
It was certainly assisted by his spring-chicken live band, sporting a triple-pronged guitar attack lead by the exceptional Nita Strauss. The set was never short on hits, nor on the classic theatrics – both the Frankenstein machine and the infamous guillotine were wheeled out to roars of approval.
Transcending shock-rock and the glam movement, Cooper and co. are still putting on a formidable and thoroughly entertaining live show. Even in a condensed form, with only half a stage to work with, it still rattled the right cages and raised the right fists. The nightmare lives yet another day; and school’s out forever.
The fact that Mötley Crüe are still alive and standing on stage together in 2015 is a miracle unto itself. Tonight was their last-ever Sydney show, and it was up to the Crüe to make sure that we truly missed them when they were gone.
Of course, there will be things that we won’t miss – Vince Neil trying to keep up is certainly one. Thankfully, he didn’t miss cues or even collapse, as happened the last time they came through. He is, however, overly-reliant on backing tracks and the band’s dancers to pick up the slack. At least, Neil’s sincerity can’t be questioned when he discusses the band’s history.
The questions to the audience quasi-related to the songs being played, however (“Who’s getting wild tonight?, “Do you feel good?” etc.), grew quickly tiresome. And the less said of the Anarchy in the U.K. cover, the better.
So, what will we miss? Tommy Lee’s drum solos, for a start. Sure, he now needs modern dance songs to play along to for whatever reason; as opposed to just flurrying about the kit as he did in his heyday. None of that matters when you see his latest rollercoaster – titled ‘the Crüecify’ – in action.
It truly is a remarkable spectacle; and one that remains unrivalled. We’ll also miss Mick Mars, perhaps the single most underrated guitarist of his era. The fact he can still bring such energy to this scale of performance and quite literally be scarcely able to move is a true credit.
Mötley Crüe represents the ultimate indulgence in the grand scheme of dolled-up, head-banging rock music. They are the guiltiest of guilty pleasure. Their last night in town, for all of its whistles and bells, was a celebration of this – and, appreciated as such, it was a lot of fun.
Gallery: Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper @ Allphones Arena, Sydney 16/05/15 / Photos: Ashley Mar