Lunatic's Serenade

Mötlëy Crüe and Alice Cooper
at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
August 10, 2014

Each summer the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre is the venue to see some of biggest names in Rock music right here in the city of Toronto... and the names don't get much bigger than Alice Cooper and Mötley Crüe.

The show kicked off not long after 7pm when Alice Cooper took to the stage with what had to be one of my favorite live performances this year by far!

Although he was the opening act for Mötlëy Crüe, and as such his set was significantly shorter, I will discuss Alice Cooper's performance in as much detail as the Crüe's since I see them as both equally stellar mega-stars who have contributed so much to hard rock history.

In my humble opinion Alice Cooper is the pinnacle performer in theatrical horror-rock. As he strutted out onto center stage in a black and red striped suit (one of his many trademark Hallowe'en-in-vaudeville outfits of the evening) spinning his cane and performing his rendition of Judy Collins' "Hello Hooray" I was awe-struck at how timeless his material truely is. With every passing decade, Alice Cooper always finds a way to contemporize his sound - introducing fresh faces to his talent-heavy ensemble along the way.

I was thrilled to see guitar goddess Nita Strauss, formerly of the Iron Maidens, as Alice's lead axe-woman. Equally impressive was the talented Tommy Henriksen on rhythm guitar, as well as veteran Cooper troopers Ryan Roxie (lead and rhythm guitar) and Chuck Garric on bass. Glen Sobel kept the beat tight and delivered a raging drum solo to boot!

"Alice Cooper is the pinnacle performer in theatrical horror-rock."

As soon as the second song "No More Mr. Nice Guy" fired up I knew that we were in for a night of Alice Cooper classics. Some of the highlights included "Billion Dollar Babies" with Alice tossing out Cooper-cash skewered on a rapier into the audience, "Feed My Frankenstien" with the final chorus being performed by the behemoth Franken-Cooper (great costume BTW, loved the detail in the mask sculpt), "Welcome To My Nightmare" python and all... and of course my personal favorite: "Poison" just because it's such a great song!

Of course I can't forget to mention the classic performance of "Ballad of Dwight Fry". Alice in a straightjacket being injected, slashed and tortured by a sexy undead nurse that could've fallen from the pages of a Tim Burton sketchbook. As the set closed with "School's Out", including an excerpt from Pink Floyd's "Another Brick In The Wall", I was instantly transported back to the summer of the third grade.

This was my first time seeing Alice Cooper live and, quite frankly, I wouldn't want to be the band that followed him. His performance was spectacular: an energetic and raw visual extravaganza of mock gore and ochestrated mayhem without a single stitch of profanity. There were swords and snakes sharing the stage harmoniously with balloons and bubble machines. Alice was injected, electrocuted and decapitated by a guillotine, yet he remained classy and sinisterly charismatic throughout it all.

I can see why our Editor-In-Chief holds him to such a high standard. He is truly one of the reasons Horror Metal Sounds exists.

A relatively short intermission seperated Alice Cooper's set from the main attraction: Mötley Crüe, and their farewell tour none-the-less. Well, I've heard that before with other acts. But let's assume that this may very well be the last time we get to see all four original members, of the band that has become the Godfather of L.A. glam metal, on stage together performing the songs that made them icons.

"Vince Neil and the boys set the tone for a high octane evening..."

Exploding onto the stage with opener "Saints of Los Angeles" the title track from their ninth studio album, and then quickly transitioning into the furious classic "Wild Side", Vince Neil and the boys set the tone for a high octane evening of deafening debauchery along with their scantily clad back-up singers/go-go dancers.

"Primal Scream" has always been a favorite of mine and I was elated to see the band perform the number with an infectious level of energy. Ear-shattering cannon pops and volcanic pyrotechnics punctuated the bands' performances as they continued their sonic assault with such Crüe classics as "Same Ol' Situation", "Looks That Kill", "On With the Show", "Too Fast for Love" and "Smokin' in the Boys' Room".

"Without You" slowed things down for a brief moment in time with a funny introduction from Vince to the tone of "If you are 26 years old chances are you were conceived to this song, and most likely at a Mötley Crüe concert." They followed this with "Mutherfucker of the Year".

It was around this point in the evening that Nikki Sixx stepped up to the mic and actually prompted the audience to sit down as he told his account of how Mötley Crüe came to be. The rags to riches tale of persistence ended and the audience was served a healthy dose of "Anarchy In The UK" their infamous Sex Pistols cover.

Further consecutive hits included roaring renditions of "Dr. Feelgood", "Shout at the Devil" and "Don't Go Away Mad" three killer tunes in a row. Theatrical highlights involved Nikki Sixx playing a flame-throwing bass guitar and setting fire to a hanging pentagram. But of course Tommy Lee's track-suspended-mobile-upside-down drum solo was most certainly the show stopper of the evening.

Mick Mars' guitar solo made a nice segway into "Live Wire", and "Girls, Girls, Girls" is always a crowd-pleaser. But "Kickstart My Heart" is another one of my faves, and their performance of it did not disappoint!

Of course what would a Mötley Crüe concert be without "Home Sweet Home" as an encore played on an entirely separate stage in the center of the audience which rose up above the crowd. I'm beginning to understand why the tickets were so expensive... definitely no expense was spared!

If I were to make one minor complaint it would be that Vince Neil's vocals were drowned out by the sheer volume of the band. I know that Mötley Crüe are responsible for some of the loudest concerts of all time, but I would've liked to hear more Vince in the mix.

A great show and a great time had by all. The crowd was good, varied in age groups and definitely into both acts equally. If you get the chance to catch the All Bad Things Must End tour, I highly recommend that you do not miss this opportunity as it might be your last chance to see Mötley Crüe put on a killer, no holds barred concert like this!

Richard Leggatt, HMS

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