Review: KISS and Motley Crue, Blossom Music Center (9/12/12)

     “The Tour” rolled into Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, OH on 9/12/12, with living legends KISS & Mötley Crüe on the bill. For many rock fans, this is a perfect pairing of bands. For me personally, being a lifelong, die-hard KISS fan, having Mötley on the bill was just a killer bonus. By the end of the night, things took a bit of an unexpected turn.

     Mötley Crüe’s stage entrance was easily one of the best entrances I have ever witnessed. The whole entourage, band, dancers, etc., made a slow “procession” to the stage right through the crowd. There were Mötley flags and banners being waved, swinging incense burners, and female dancers hoisted up on the shoulders of the male members of the group. Once everyone made it up to the stage, the sonic and visual assault began with a blistering version of “Saints Of Los Angeles.” Singer Vince Neil appeared to have suffered some sort of foot injury (more on that later) right from the start, as he was limping badly, but trying to work through it. “Wild Side” followed, with guitarist Mick Mars effortlessly cranking out the main, unforgettable riff. Bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee were both locked in a constant groove, cranking out hit song after hit song. Sixx prowled the stage like a rabid animal looking to infect someone, often directing one of the entourage to use a high powered water gun to douse the crowd. He also spent a considerable amount of time spitting, but all in the name of rock and roll. Lee’s drum solo was one of the many highlights, with the drum kit being hooked up to a large circular track that the kit rolled around while he was pounding away. A lucky female audience member even got to take a ride in the seat next to him. They closed out the set with the triple-threat of “Dr. Feelgood,” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and “Kickstart My Heart,” which highlighted Mars ripping through the adrenaline-pumping riff. Between the dancers suspended in the air by chains, the incredible pyro and lasers, and the elaborate staging, I felt like I was watching something akin to Cirque Du Soleil, just maybe a slightly more chaotic and evil version. Watching Sixx blast people up front with full buckets of water was another highlight of the evening.

     KISS needed to bring their “A Game” to try to keep pace with the Mötley spectacle, and they gave it a good effort. They descended down to the stage from a moving platform, opening the show with the classic “Detroit Rock City,” complete with Paul Stanley badly messing up the lyrics. I could see if it was a deep album cut rarely performed live, but “Detroit Rock City?” That would be like me waking up in the morning and forgetting how to put my socks on. They tried to regain the momentum, but the pace of a few of the songs seemed slightly slower than normal, as was the case with “Shout It Out Loud.” A high majority of the setlist was predictable, including other standards like “God Of Thunder,” which was preceded by Gene Simmons spitting blood and flying up to the rafters. “Love Gun” had Stanley flying out on a zipline to an auxiliary stage in the middle of the crowd. Closing out the main set was “Black Diamond,” featuring drummer Eric Singer on lead vocals. This was definitely a highlight, as Singer’s voice is very strong and versatile. The encore featured “C’mon And Love Me,” which may be a rarity for this tour, but hardly a rarity overall. That was definitely one of Stanley’s vocal standouts of the night. Of course, the night would not be complete without the ever present “Rock And Roll All Nite,” complete with confetti shower.

     When all was said and done, I tried very hard to not compare the two sets. The problem was, Mötley’s set was so strong, so visually and sonically powerful, that it was burned in my brain and clouded my judgement about anything that could have come after it. As I mentioned earlier, Vince Neil was obviously in pain within the first two minutes of the set. It was revealed the next morning that he had two broken bones in his foot, but the guy was running on adrenaline, and obviously did not want to disappoint the fans, so he gutted it out for the next hour and twenty minutes. Simply awesome. Tommy Lee, what can I say? The guy is a MONSTER drummer and incredible entertainer overall. Nikki Sixx’s stage presence absolutely ruled. And Mick Mars…wow. His health condition makes it difficult for him to be mobile, and it looks like he is in pain, but once that guitar is strapped on, look out! I walked away from the show thinking how cool it was to have KISS as a bonus after The Crüe. My love and support for KISS will never die, but this night belonged to Mötley in my book. My friend that I went with turned to me about four songs into Mötley’s set and said “This is so amazing that I’m actually tearing up!” Amazingly, a few minutes before he said that, I felt the exact same sensation. Who knows why we were so emotional about it, but in my book, that means something was being done right.

Mötley setlist:

Saints of Los Angeles

Wild Side

Shout At The Devil

Same Ol’ Situation

Sex

Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)

Home Sweet Home

Live Wire

Primal Scream

Dr. Feelgood

Girls, Girls, Girls

Kickstart My Heart

 

KISS setlist:

Detroit Rock City

Shout It Out Loud

I Love It Loud

Firehouse

Hell Or Hallelujah

War Machine

Shock Me

God Of Thunder

Love Gun

Lick It Up

Black Diamond

C’mon And Love Me

Rock And Roll All Nite

Screaming Trees – 20 Years of Sweet Oblivion

        I moved from Ohio to Las Vegas, NV in the summer of 1992 to attend school at The University Of Nevada-Las Vegas. I could count the people I knew or was acquainted with on one hand, and I was very homesick. One day in early September, I decided to drive around after class and look for record stores, as I knew the new Screaming Trees record was coming out. I came across a store called “Benway Bop,” and I went in to check it out. On the counter, there was a flyer promoting the release of the Sweet Oblivion record, along with a free Trees t-shirt as a bonus with purchase of the record. I came back sometime around the release date (9/8/92) to pick up my goods. I raced home to blast my new acquisition.

  I was already very much into “Nearly Lost You” from the soundtrack to the movie Singles, which I had purchased a few months earlier. I popped the new disc in when I got home, and was immediately blown away from the first track “Shadow of the Season.” The sound to me was just so unlike any other band at the time, especially singer Mark Lanegan’s deep, moody vocals. The record has something for everyone, killer guitar riffs filled with distortion, powerful drumming, haunting ballads…it’s all there.

  To this day, this record reminds me of how music can be your best friend when you need it to be. I needed to hear it at that time in my life, which was filled with loneliness, confusion, fear, and many other emotions that are actually touched upon on the record. I encourage anyone who has never heard Sweet Oblivion to give it a shot, as it is one of my all time favorites.