Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Poison re-enact the ’80s at SoFi

“Long way from the Sunset Strip,” Nikki Sixx said as he took in his surroundings, and it was true: instead of the Roxy or Gazzarri’s or any of those other sweaty West Hollywood nightclubs where his band Motley Crüe made a name for themselves hat , the 63-year-old bassist peered out over the cavernous expanses of Inglewood’s gleaming SoFi Stadium, where Mötley Crüe landed on Saturday night for a stop in her hometown on the group’s final tour.

But some things never change.

As he addressed the tens of thousands of fans in front of him, Sixx was interrupted by a young woman near the stage — or at least he pretended to be trying to get his attention.

“Do you want that towel?” he asked her. “That is exactly like the towel I gave your mother in 1987.”

Consistency — and strength in numbers — is the concept behind the so-called Stadium Tour, which brings together Mötley Crüe with two other survivors of ’80s pop metal, Def Leppard and Poison, and Joan Jett, who laid important foundations in the mid-’70s for all the glam guys to come. (Officially, Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard alternate headlining, although it’s believed organizers started with Mötley’s position at the top of the LA date and worked backwards from there.)

Individually, these acts would struggle to fill a space like SoFi or Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, where the month-long roadshow is due to wrap up next week, after grossing an average of $5 million a night from trading, according to Pollstar magazine. But by working together to fill stadiums with their overlapping audiences, the bands offer reassurance that the traditions of yore have not died in an era when Harry Styles is music’s most visible rock star.

“Who likes the old S-?” Mötley Crüe frontman Vince Neil didn’t take long to ask into the band’s set on Saturday. “We’re going to do something to make you feel real damn old.” That was his cue for the title track of Mötley’s 1981 debut, “Too Fast for Love,” and the huge cheers that rose in the building made you understand that age was a badge of honour, at least here.

In fact, Mötley Crüe had a proudly unconstructed quality that vowed to split after a farewell tour in 2015, only to reunite in conjunction with Netflix’s 2019 adaptation of the group’s salacious memoir, The Dirt. (The endless Motley mythologization continued this year with Hulu’s “Pam & Tommy,” about drummer Tommy Lee’s eventful relationship with Pamela Anderson.)

A rock singer on stage.

Motley Crue.

(Samuel Shapiro)

At SoFi, images of naked women circling in silhouette on a video screen behind the band, just like in the good old days; Two giant inflatables in female form finally came to life to complete the horny tableau. At one point, Lee emerged from behind his drum kit to share some rambling thoughts on a nude selfie he posted earlier this month while he was “like drunk,” as he put it, in Bora Bora. “They removed her from Instagram, so you guys want to see my sausages?” he asked — Lee’s setup, it turns out, for a sight gag, which saw him pull a tiny dachshund pup out of his pants.

Musically, Mötley Crüe – rounded out by the band’s straight guitarist, 71-year-old Mick Mars – was an absolute mess (in an entertaining way), with screeching riffs over pounding beats that made it almost impossible to spot Neil’s screeching vocals than anything else than more noise. The setlist included most of the group’s classics – “Dr. Feelgood”, “Girls, Girls, Girls”, “Kickstart My Heart”, for which the singer donned a Rams jersey – but it didn’t really matter: every member was so cranked up that you couldn’t tell which song it was acted play anyway.

Def Leppard was a lot lighter, dishing out the polished pop metal hits that made the English band an early MTV sensation: although Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant recently chimed in good-naturedly on frontman Joe Elliott’s elaborate vocal-warming routine and his Precision made fun of Elliott hit the high notes on “Love Bites” and “Photograph” was a sign that he knows what he’s doing.

Still, the technique is limited in a live setting, and little about Def Leppard’s highly controlled delivery made one think about it meaning of endurance. This set felt like it could have gone under in 1992 or 2012 (or 2032) – certainly an achievement, but not a very exciting or emotional one.

The same could have been true for Poison, save for the endearing fact of frontman Bret Michaels’ deep gratitude at being on stage in a stadium decades after his glory days.

“We’ve been waiting for this for two and a half years,” the singer told the crowd, referring to the pandemic-related delay of the Stadium Tour from 2020, and his smiling seriousness made you glad to be there to see him in a Poison T-shirt his face on it. (In fact, three of the four members of the band wore their own merch on Saturday.)

A rock singer performs on stage

Poison’s Brett Michaels at SoFi Stadium.

(Tammy Vega)

Like the other acts at SoFi, Poison stuck to the hits: “Talk Dirty to Me,” “Fallen Angel,” and “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” of which Michaels thanked the audience for his #1 hit. Before the band’s cover of Loggins & Messina’s “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” the frontman mentioned — “without politics,” he clarified — that he’s the son of a veteran and glad to live in a country that still does “Freedom of Speech”.

It wasn’t difficult to discern its subtext, of course: rock ‘n’ roll – America – has become too sensitive to everything. But this was a safe space.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2022-08-28/motley-crue-def-leppard-poison-sofi-stadium-metal Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Poison re-enact the ’80s at SoFi

Sarah Ridley

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