Alice Cooper production trumps Motley Crue at OC’s Verizon Amphitheater

Posted on July 23, 2014




(Photo by John Gilhooley/OC Weekly)

(Photo by John Gilhooley/OC Weekly)

By Rachael Mattice

OC Weekly

In the crowd for Mötley Crüe‘s last tour ever, it appeared that a huge slice of Orange County showed up for one last taste of the Sunset Strip circa 1985. Near the front of the stage, we waded through a sea of infatuated couples, pyro smoke and gray-haired fans sporting a ’80s metalhead denim jackets. The Crüe’s slogan for the Final Tour has been “All Things Bad Must Come to an End,” and though we’re sad to see ’em go, the 2-hour set they delivered was anything but terrible.

As memorable as encores are, the opening overture played a recording of the song “So Long, Farewell,” most commonly heard in “The Sound of Music” musical that set the tone of the drawn out finale and inevitable retiring of the band. Founders Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee, Mick Mars and Vince Neil opened with 2008’s “Saints of Los Angeles,” from their ninth and most current studio album.

Fans roared more as flames roared from pyrotechnic shooters, smoke circled, Sixx’s pentagram microphone pierced loud with his backup vocals, dancers made their way to the stage during “Wild Side” and Mars pummeled on the guitar strings with authoritative attribution. Although some lyrics from Neil sounded mumbled or forgotten, “Primal Scream” and “Same Ol’ Situation” wrangled back the showmanship.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Crüe concert without classic rock staples “Too Fast for Love,” “Looks That Kill,” “On With the Show,” “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” and “Rock and Roll,” which rounded up the first half of their set. The band also added a few of their top ballad’s including “Without You,” that turned the audience’s energy lethargic and down into the seats.

Sixx treated fans to a bit of a Behind the Music session, asking the concertgoers to sit at one point while he reminisced and educated on the ideas, foundation and development of the band. The audience got to know the inside of the members’ imaginations to the day the foursome helped pioneer glam rock on Jan. 17, 1981.

“Dr. Feelgood” and “Shout at the Devil” heated up the show as Sixx sent more flames into the air from a spout on his bass with a sense of overexerted masculinity. Mars’ several guitar solo stints relished with skill as the standout musician, leading Lee’s infamous upside down drum solo that featured his artistic escapades with DJ-ing and EDM.

“Live Wire,” “Too Young to Fall in Love,” and “Girls, Girls, Girls” peaked the show; Motley Crue adrenalized the close with arguably their best single – “Kickstart My Heart” (although Neil noticeably mumbled and had forgotten lyrics again!). It’s a good thing Sixx came back from an addiction overdose death to write a rock song catchy and impactful enough to keep attracting more generations over the decades, even if it’s the last time OC will hear it live.

The band emerged for the encore in a small stage set up in the middle of the venue to perform “Home Sweet Home” for a personal goodbye.

Legendary shock rocker Alice Cooper animated the concert prior to Motley Crue with a traditional, entertaining set filled with horror theatrics. Cooper showcased his paint-dripped eyes on the backdrop, decapitated doll heads, an electric chair and guillotine a few songs into his set after introducing his music and new blonde guitarist Nita Strauss.

The band blasted through the memorable riffs to “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “I’m Eighteen” and “Poison” before an instrumental breakdown. Cooper reappeared with his pet boa constrictor roped around his neck during the bone chilling “Welcome to My Nightmare.”

After another costume change into a blood-splattered butcher’s coat, chants to “Feed My Frankenstein” grew loud into the chorus while Cooper was strapped to an electrocution board.

Cooper’s ghoulish eye for striking music visuals captivated through the 50-minute set that wrapped with a mashup of “School’s Out” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” Although his beheading by guillotine is expected, Alice Cooper’s musical production trumped Motley Crue’s attempt to impress the audience.

Mattice is a music journalist for Village Voice’s OC Weekly and Metal Insider. She can be reached at or on Twitter @RachaelM_JC.