First there was Alice Cooper, followed by a weak hearted Bubblegum Heavy Metal Band on their final tour
For the record, I don’t like Vince Neil’s voice, it is whiny. I could only take an hour of it till my ears were pained. I left the venue half way through their set and was in my driveway just as the concert ended. I beat the traffic and my ears were grateful. Vince’s voice and the insincere theatrics are the main reasons why I was never a fan. For a final tour, these guys acted like they should have called it off before the tour bus hit the road. But let me tell you, there are songs of theirs which I enjoyed, She’s Got the Looks that Kill, which is off their Shout to the Devil album and Girls, Girls, Girls. The video for Girls was a hit on MTV when thirty plus years ago the channel played videos…hello YouTube. Back then, heavy metal had its own show on the channel and this band had…and still has its own legion of fans. It looked like a sellout, maybe after Groupon promoted $20.00 tickets to the nose bleeds.
The Crue tipped into the glam metal category of plastic, sugary, sweet metal which was like Poison, Quiet Riot, Ratt and a wish washy band like White Snake. They were merged into the soft metal, malleable; like their talent. The video for Girls captured what was important to Crue. The rock stars at their finest; on their choppers cruising on Hollywood Blvd, smoking cigarettes, tattoos and making the rounds of famous topless clubs in the country. “Hey Tommy, over there!” Whistles. I wish I can whistle like that. This band and like their fellow clones - were all about the image. These men captured the gluttony of heavy metal, the excess, sex, alcohol and drugs. These artificial influences eventually made their way into their music which gradually suffered over time. Listen, their song Dr. Strangelove – sucks. Like all good things, there is a time and place for it. It took place back when most of the audience was a lot younger, there was no care to what they listened to - most of them accepted the music and the band without really critiquing or learning what good metal was. Inset your favorites, AC/DC, Metallica, Zep. Most of us grew up and moved away from the Crue.
Vince gained weight (and has gained more weight) Tommy made a famous video; Nick suffered from abuse and the other quiet guy, Mick Mars nearly died and looks like a ghost, but what a great guitarist. The Crue were the eighties. So with all the criticism why was I there? Two reasons, the protagonist for a novel I am working on is a heavy metal fan and I wanted to experience a heavy metal concert, the pyro techniques, the leather, the woman and the concentration on their boobs (thank you) and the exuberance of being an American male. All of that was the first reason. The second was - Alice Cooper was the opener. I always wanted to see Alice Cooper.
Before the show, walking through the parking lot, the men and women drank their alcohol out of plastic cups, ate their dinners and it struck me. We are all about the same age. I was not out of place. I saw more bald heads, out of shape bellies, big bottoms, dyed hair, reading glasses in that parking lot and for a few minutes there was some semblance and association to the decay. Some things don’t change. The teenage girls who got tired of waiting in their long line to take a piss were now middle aged women with children in college, but they didn’t care -they barged into the Men’s bathroom and yelled, “We’re not looking!” Hold it. This is why most of us were here, the exuberance of being an adolescent, the salute to the American; a bold proclamation of being middle aged adults - who still had a reverence for their heavy metal and faded concert t-shirts which they bought after the show in the parking lot.
Nick shared the story which he repeats in each venue, how the band started in ’81 in L.A. when new wave was popular, the only bands around LA were The Go Go’s and The Knack. “I wanted to play my own fucking music in my own fucking way and didn’t want to answer to anyone.” He sought and found the musicians because as Nicky so eloquently stated, “It all…begins…with a thought. We are here because it began with a thought.” And he closes with a declaration, “We’re going to rock you till your dead.” Yeah? I don’t think so you middle aged make-up wearing freak. Besides, I’d rather listen to The Clash than the Crue.
I read their set list, they would play, the songs I mentioned as well as the Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK, Smoking in the Boy’s Room, and before one mellow song Vince declared, “If you’re 25, your parents probably played this song as they were doing something nasty.” I could see the youngsters throwing up in their seats.
Alice Cooper put on an incredible show. This is a man who knows how to get the audience pumped, the way he twirled his cane, swung swords, popped large white balloons which were kicked into the audience and were pushed back to the stage. He was captured in a strait jacket, beheaded in a guillotine, jabbed with needles - it was a wild show. His band was tight, Ryan Roxie on lead, Nita Strauss, also lead and an incredible drum solo by Glen Sobel and least I forget a native Long Islander, Chuck Garric. The classics were played; 18, Schools Out, No More Mr. Nice Guy, Hello Hooray, Welcome to my Nightmare. Alice’s strong voice growled a raspy vengeance. His stage theatrics were incredible and I would love to see him solo. These days he is opening up for more acts, so I may be reduced to seeing him open for Rob Zombie – which I wouldn’t mind. This is the man who influenced the dark image in heavy metal. He is a true artist and compared to the headliner – he and his band took the opportunity to prove to anyone why he still has it and will not stop.
Oh yeah, The Raskins opened the show to a nearly empty theatre.
Thank you for reading this.