Motley Crue and their interesting assortment of backing bands rolled into town today to give the cowboys a good dose of Metal, no wussy Country and Western, not a stetson in sight, no fiddles, or tumbling tumbleweeds, just good ole Metal. Crue Fest is something to behold.

First up on this delectable menu of heavy elements was Trapt, alas I missed most of their performance because I was having way too much fun with the Saddledome management that had misplaced my Photog credential. But what I heard in between of negotiations sounded pretty darn good. And that likely is the reason that their new album Only Through The Pain is rocketing up the Billboard charts.

Running a six hour show that starts at 5pm is tough to do on a weekday, and certainly many concert goers could not make this early set, but those that were able to make seemed to really enjoy the band.

Next up were Sixx A.M. and they certainly got the audiences attention. This was a very tasty, and clever way to plan the evening. This is Nikki Sixx’s (bass man from Motley Crue) pet project. It would be easy to draw the conclusion that Sixx A.M. gets their crowd appeal just from the fame of association. You would be wrong. Nikki plays very much in the background, the band has their own very unique style. Nikki plays his bass, but it is very understated, it is the other members that take the lead. Kudos to Nikki for taking this very high road.

Papa Roach
are a killer band, and placed ideally on this gourmet feast of music. Lead singer Jacoby Shaddix knows just how to whip the crowd into a frenzy. This guy has style! One minute he is leaping about the stage, the next he is in the crowd. Mic in hand, singing his heart out, he works his way around the auditorium. Of course the Saddledome is basically designed for ice hockey, this means that there is a pretty ferocious slope to the rows of seats. It was amazing to watch Jacoby turn on ‘Mountain Goat’ mode and nimbly hop around on the dividing walls and between rows of seats. It was also hugely amusing to watch the local ‘rent a cop’ fraternity try to keep up with him. As this was happening mere feet from where we were sitting I could see the look of frustration on their faces.

If you ever see an advert that Papa Roach is playing in your town, go check em out, I will guarantee you will not be disappointed. The music is unique, heavy, hard hitting, and with just a touch of punk added for flavor. Any headliner would want Papa Roach as their warm up band. They know the recipe to get the crowd whipped up into a frenzy.

crowd-at-cruefest.jpgThere was a fairly lengthy intermission following Papa Roach, no doubt it was so that the security guys could catch their breath after climbing all around a packed stadium trying to keep up with Jacoby Shaddix. I took this as an opportunity to check out the local color, in other words, go to the bathroom, smoke a cigarette, and buy a beer. My timing could not have been worse, just about all of the by now, near capacity crowd decided to do the same thing!

When you have something like 15,000 happy head bangers you just know that something bizarre is going to happen. Just as the bladder bursting line had me within sight of my quest a roar of hoots and hollers broke out when a young lady emerged from one of the toilet cubicles. Unrepentant she calmly explained “Well its not like you guys were using it, and I needed to go”.

My next stop was the great outdoors for a cigarette, again this seemed to be an idea shared by the vast majority of the audience making space a premium and fresh air non existent. I found myself standing next to two young men dressed in Motley Crue gear and the ‘journo’ instinct kicked in. I hadn’t managed to secure an interview with The Crue, and had left it too late to get at one of the backing bands, so the next best thing was a couple of Crue fans.

Sean Miller and Rob McKinnon had driven from Burnaby B.C. a 4 ½ hour adventure to attend Crue Fest, and then were going to drive straight back (my guess is that they are getting home right about now). It transpired that Rob has only recently discovered Motley Crue, and that his friend Sean is the one responsible. I am not sure if I would call Rob a convert or zealot.

In less than two and a half months I have lost a girlfriend and found Motley Crue

he did not say which came first!

Back inside it was time for Buckcherry. I am not sure what it was about this band, but in my mind they just did not have the urgency and infectiousness that was needed. Although it mattered not, by this time you could have put the Vienna Boys Choir or Englebert Humperdink on the stage and the fans would have gone wild! Frontman Josh Todd strutted his stuff, and although not dressed in the part, exuded Glam Rock. ‘Lit Up’ produced the usual display from the fans, the Saddledome came alive with Bic lighters.

motley-crue.jpgNow it was time for the ‘prime rib’, and prime is what we got. Motley Crue are veterans, and they know how to perform for an audience. With a huge black curtain in front of the stage a wall of sound kicked in, and back projection revealed some almost demonic video images on the curtain. The curtain falls away, and the show is on with ‘Kickstart My Heart’. The set assaults the eyes and ears, you don’t just listen to the music, you live it, the bass is so deep your clothes vibrate, the light show is brain expanding, and the pyrotechnics loud and in your face. And that is just the start!

Vince Neil, Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx, and Tommy Lee know their stuff. The Crue are approaching 30 years together as a band, they may each be around fifty years old, but you would never guess it, they are vibrant players. This was one great set. What I really liked was that to celebrate the title track from their new album Saints of Los Angeles all of the other bands frontmen joined Vince on stage to add backing vocals. A nice touch, and a great acknowledgment by the Crue of just how good the backing bands are.

Crue Fest has a grueling schedule, which means it likely is headed your way, if it is, I can not recommend it enough. This is a joy to be a part of. It is in some ways a trip back to the Glam Rock 80’s, but is also an exploration of where mainstream metal is headed today. With a six hour running time this is great value for money. Even my companion on this adventure had fun, and she likes Country! Jan has agreed to write her own review of Crue Fest, I can’t wait to see what she has to say!

Good times! Great Music! Fabulous people!

Simon (ears are still ringing) Barrett

Editors Note: Rob or Sean, if you read this review please drop me a line, I spoke to you pre Crue, I’d love to know your post Crue comments – Simon 

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