Concert Reviews

Mötley Crüe at Gexa Energy Pavilion, 7/16/14

Mötley Crüe With Alice Cooper Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Dallas loves Mötley Crüe. A nearly sold out show, thousands of people showed up at Gexa Energy Pavilion on Wednesday night to say farewell to a legendary band. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the heat, they sang every song with as much vigor as lead singer Vince Neil, who was left breathless a few times during his performance as an ocean of people chanted, "Crüe, Crüe, Crüe," as if the music had possessed them.

And it does. There's something haunting about "Looks That Kill," "Shout at the Devil" and "Too Young to Fall in Love." To hear them last night, I felt not only like drowning in memories as the glam metal pioneers played three decades of hits but also like watching the end of an age.

But watching their final tour didn't evoke the same manic feeling like their Dr. Feelgood World Tour in 1990. That show, held at the Reunion Arena, felt like a speedball rushing through your system. Tonight's feeling was more like snorting a line of coke: "Fuck, I can't believe this it." It was depressing, especially during Crüe's slower songs like "Without You."

Fans were in denial. "No way this is the last show," said one. "Bands are always saying this is the last show," said another. Watching Neil stand on a small platform stage left, looking at the crowd with one fist in the air, I couldn't help but notice the pained expression on his face, confirming what most of us feared -- that this is the end.

But it was a helluva way to end the band's career together.

The Crüe opened the show with "Saints of Los Angeles" (although they're more like hellions than saints) and "Wild Side," a song that epitomizes the outlaw lifestyle. Their stage show was reminiscent of their arena shows in the '80s. Flames, bombs and flashes of light just added to the furor exploding on stage as Tommy Lee played the hell out of his drums. A wall of amps with two succubus dancing in front of them was a fitting tribute to Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx' final performance in town.

Neil was swimming down memory lane with the rest of us. "It was 1981," he explained, "and there was four of us kids running around Hollywood, just getting drunk, getting crazy, having fun. 'Hey listen, let's make fucking music man." The crowd erupted. "You know how people say brothers fight?" he continued. "Yeah, they fucking do, but, man, we're family. And you guys are our rock 'n' roll family."

It felt like being part of a rock 'n' roll family as the band played "Same Ol' Situation." There were no political affiliations, no socioeconomic statuses, no sexual biases separating us on Wednesday. Republicans, Democrats, gays, straights, gun lovers, tree huggers; everyone was headbanging. It was a bond that only good music can bind. The love for this band was definitely in the air last night.

Lee showed his love by strapping himself to his drum kit and playing his "Crüecifly" drum solo in the air above the crowd. Mick Mars bled his guitar onstage and Nikki Sixx strapped a flame thrower to his bass and projected flames 30 feet into the air, igniting his pentagram microphone and a giant metal ball of spikes that hovered above Lee.

The night ended with Mötley Crüe playing an encore performance of "Home Sweet Home" on a platform just behind the front of house. Fans raised their cell phones and lighters and sang the words to one of the band's most popular songs. Eyes glistened and bodies swayed. It was heart-wrenching to watch some of the fans cry when the band took their final bow. Goodbyes are sometimes hard to accept.

Thank god for YouTube.

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Christian McPhate is an award-winning journalist who specializes in investigative reporting. He covers crime, the environment, business, government and social justice. His work has appeared in several publications, including the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Miami Herald, San Antonio Express News and The Washington Times.