Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 30, 2016)
Question of the day: how many musical artists embark on “farewell tours” and then actually retire from the road? Not many, it seems, and acts like the Who, Cher and Kiss all made mockeries of the “farewell” concept.
When they decided to launch one last go-round, Motley Crue took a different approach to their farewell tour. At their January 2014 press conference to announce this trek, the bandmembers signed “legally binding documents” that declared they could no longer tour as “Motley Crue” after 2015.
What does this mean? If I understand correctly, “Motley Crue” can’t tour again – unless all four original members agree to do so. This prevents three of them from touring without the fourth, but in no way does it keep Motley Crue from more shows.
Don’t bet against a Crue reunion, as the history of farewell tours teach us that “never say never again” isn’t just the title of a bad James Bond movie. If there’s money to be made, bands tour, so don’t feel surprised if the Crue hits the road again someday.
Until/if that happens, Crue fans can remember the band with The End – Live in Los Angeles, a document of their final show. Shot at LA’s Staples Center on New Year’s Eve 2015, the concert offers a 15-song set list that encompasses many aspects of the group’s career.
1981’s debut Too Fast For Love boasts “Live Wire”, while 1983’s Shout at the Devil brings us “In the Beginning/Shout at the Devil”, “Louder Than Hell” and “Looks That Kill”.
From 1985’s Theatre of Pain, we discover “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” and “Home Sweet Home”. 1987’s Girls Girls Girls features the title song as well as “Wild Side”.
After this we get four tracks from 1989’s Dr. Feelgood: “TnT/Dr. Feelgood”, “Kickstart My Heart”, "Same Ol' Situation (SOS)" and "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)". “Primal Scream” came as a new track from 1991’s hits compilation Decade of Decadence. Finally, 2008’s Saints of Los Angeles provides the title song and "Muther****** of the Year".
Back in 2005, I reviewed Carnival of Sin, a DVD that documented the band’s successful tour from that year. I was never a Crue fan, but their concerts sounded interesting so I gave the DVD a look.
Unfortunately, the directorial and editorial choices found in Carnival made it impossible to evaluate the Crue’s qualities as a live band. The DVD became essentially unwatchable and offered no real picture of how the Crue fared on stage.
As such, I hoped that The End would bring me a more enjoyable visual experience. To be sure, the Crue retained the wild pyro and theatrics that marked earlier tours – no one figured they’d retire with a subdued show, did they?
Like I anticipated, The End offered a concert packed with manic antics and stagecraft. The Blu-ray reproduces the show in a reasonably evocative manner, though I find room for improvement in that regard.
To be sure, The End presents a radical improvement over the visual disaster that was Carnival. At the end of the day, I felt I’d gotten a decent sense of what the original concert was like, so the Blu-ray managed to convey some “you are there” impression.
That said, it could’ve used more restraint, especially during the early parts of the concert. The first few songs go wild with editing and camera tricks, so they became tough to take.
Though those techniques reappear at times, the presentation does calm down as it goes. While I won’t ever call this a well-rendered concert, at least it’s not a frantic, hyperactive mess from start to finish – we can usually get a nice feel for the performance.
As for as the concert itself, The End presents what one would expect from Motley Crue. They put on a big, brash show with lots of over the top moments – exactly what fans want from the band.
The End does offer a surprisingly short concert, though. If you eliminate the Blu-ray’s pre-concert intro and its long end credits, the actual performance lasts only about 90 minutes – and 13 of those minutes saddle us with extended drum/guitar solos.
Yeesh – who thought those solos were a good idea? Tommy Lee’s “drum solo” doesn’t even really fill that role – Lee pounds a fairly basic beat to some prerecorded tracks, so he doesn’t deliver a true “solo”.
Lee’s “solo” does offer a certain wacky charm, as that section sends Lee and his kit from one side of the arena to another on a large “rollercoaster” rig. This seems more interesting in theory than in reality, as Lee’s drum set moves slowly – and gets stuck at the end – but at least it’s something different.
Mick Mars’ guitar solo is nothing interesting, though. He just wails away with standard metal guitar cliches, and the segment lacks visual merit.
Even if they’d included more pizzazz, the solos become a major drag. They crush the concert’s momentum and serve little obvious purpose other than ego gratification. At least the Blu-ray allows fans to easily skip these scenes – I pity the poor people in the arena who lacked that option!
Even with those tedious solos, The End offers a pretty satisfying Motley Crue presentation. I can’t claim to be much of a fan of the music, but the show represents what they do well.