Spectacle of the Crüe

Trent Ernst

It took over 32 years, but the world’s most notorious rock band finally made it to the Peace.

Mötley Crüe rolled into Dawson Creek on April 26 for what is easily the biggest spectacle to hit the Encana Events Centre. While there may have been bigger crowds, there haven’t been bigger shows, with the Crüe scaling down their show only slightly from their heyday in the 80s to fit the slightly smaller venue.

Oh sure, there were fewer (read: no) pyrotechnics, and less drinking on stage, and, at age 52, Vince Neil doesn’t bound around the stage quite as much as he used to, but only just a little less, but he can still hit the high notes, and the show was still amazing.

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we? Pseudo-Canadian band Big Wreck opened with a solid, if unremarkable set, with their biggest hit, That Song showing up in the first half of the performance. Lead singer and lead guitarist Ian Thornley has a great voice, and is a phenomenal soloist, ending the show with an extended guitar wank before placing the still-ringing guitar down on the drums and walking off-stage.

The sit-down crowd seemed to enjoy the performance, but they remained in their seats until the lights dimmed for the start of the main attraction. After a moment of darkness, a black scrim that blocked the back half of the stage fell, revealing two giant panels of lights, displaying as a timer, counting down from five minutes. As the timer counted down, Ministry’s ‘One More Fix’ played. There are no lights on stage, but by the light of the timer, one can see something that looks like a Ferris wheel and a roller coaster’s offspring. There are risers and poles, and walkways running into the audience on both sides of the stage.

With ten seconds left, the audience begins counting down: ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five. But at four seconds left, the song ends and the timer stops.

The crowd goes crazy. But nothing happens. Then, some low, atmospheric music begins and two robed and hooded figures walk out on stage with megaphones. Voices are heard in the music. Then, a spotlight hits an entrance about halfway back through the audience and a group appears. Women riding on shoulders, bearing banners with MC written on it. Vince Neil, carrying a septre with a giant golden skull on it. The rest of the Crüe. They make their way to the stage. The crowd continues to go crazy.

A stage hand with a giant mallet climbs onto the Ferris Coaster, and hits something. After a few whacks, the timer starts again, and finishes the countdown, and the show begins.

The two robed figures cast of their robes, revealing two scantily clad females. They begin to climb a set of aerial silk that hang on either side of the drum kit and begin silk dancing, a la Cirque de Soliel, while below, the two women carried onstage (revealed to be backup strippers, er, singers) begin grinding at a pair of dance poles set to either side of the stage.

While Mötley Crüe has always been about testosterone driven metal, the addition of the aerial dancers lend the air just a bit more class to the proceedings. But only just a bit. Vince Neil’s between-song banter is still peppered with four-lettered words and the music is still, well, Mötley Crüe. The light show is phenomenal, making up for the lack of pyrotechnics.

When the band takes a moment to play their most famous ballad, ‘Home Sweet Home’, a legless piano descends from the rafters, and drummer Tommy Lee hops out to play it for the first verse, before it floats back up into the sky and Lee goes back to his kit.

And why is his kit mounted on a Ferris Coaster? The answer comes about three quarters of the way through the show, when the rest of the band disappears, and Lee begins banging along to some house music. As he plays, his drum kit begins to rotate, until Lee is finally hanging upside down. After a few minutes of this, Lee jumps out from the kit and invites an audience member (named Eric) to come along for the ride.

Eric survives without hurling, and he’s kicked off-stage while the rest of the band rejoins Lee as they move towards the show’s conclusion, with hit song following hit song: Live Wire, Too Fast For Love, Primal Scream, Dr. Feelgood, Girls Girls Girls and Kickstart My Heart. (Notably missing from the setlist? Smoking in the Boys Room.) The last song takes about ten minutes to end, as lights flash, girls dance, Neil screams, and stage hands toss buckets of pink-tinged water (supposed to symbolize blood or vomit, depending on who you talk to) onto the crowd.

There is no encore. The band takes a bow, takes two, then heads backstage. The house lights come on and before the audience has even started to file out, the crew is already onstage, pulling things down to move on to their next show in Edmonton.