June 13th, 2011
Loopster Live: Motley Crue with Poison and New York Dolls at Toyota Center
Disclaimer: My access to Friday’s performance was under photo access, so I only witnessed the first three songs of each set. Adjust and/or discredit as you see fit.
Spectacle [spek-tuh-kuhl] noun–often mythologized as “back in the day.” Heard regularly, witnessed rarely.
Undoubtedly the marketing machines of ESPN and Mark Burnett are negotiating for the exclusive rights to the word “Spextacle” as I write; however, occasionally the word is appropriately applied. Or perhaps the Houston Fire Marshall has started wearing his “Great White” T again.
The triple bill of New York Dolls, Poison and Motley Crue pulled into town Friday after a reported fender bender between the buses of Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee (even I try to carpool when I take the Prevost out on the road). Billed as Motley Crue’s 30th anniversary tour, the combination of acts represents nearly 100 years of rocking decadence. For one night, they promised to usher the faithful at Toyota Center back to the bacchanal of glam metal.
Visually, Motley Crue’s staging was so over the top that I expected Stefon from Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update to appear:
Houston’s hottest night club is Püé. Impressario Pamela Tranderson Lee, back from touring with Cirque de Sogay, has done it again. Located at the edge of EaDo, this club has it all: explosions, pyrotechnics, a two-story stripper pole, a kick drum bigger than Vince Neil’s waistline, a drum kit mounted on a 40’ ring that straps the drummer in upside down, two albino cat-women, and a Ben Afflict. That’s that thing where you pretend you earned it on merit, show up to political rallies uninvited and wear Affliction shirts to fit in…
Backing up, the New York Dolls represent a key branch on the tree of rock, an only-in-the-70’s mix of glam and proto-punk/new wave. Alas, David Johansen’s towering presence notwithstanding, the kick wasn’t there. In the band’s defense, Toyota was perhaps 10% filled (not counting the screened off upper prom). In a smaller venue, without the pressure to pitch the new songs, this could be an interesting show, despite the missing (or dead) former members.
Poison. After last year’s near death experience, Bret Michaels quickly showed off signature side-shuffle/ kick (I don’t know what the proper term for that move is. I’m waiting for the BluRay box set of “So You Think You Can Dance” before I get caught up in that plot line!). Bret had the energy of a Tony Robbin’s school of motivational speakers graduate, combined with the presence of, well, a rock star. Smiling, pointing to several people in the audience teeth gleaming, eyes beaming – the enthusiasm that can only be found after winnowing down your girlfriend options to a Penthouse Pet, no doubt… at least until next season.
It was striking how many times Michaels told C.C. DeVille to play. I presume it’s a mannerism Bret is unaware of, but it seemed markedly condescending to the constantly grinning/grimacing guitarist who was clearly doing his part.
It was at that moment that I thought about stashing the camera gear and running to the box office. Guilty pleasure indeed!
Random aside: I don’t recall another band playing other artists’ music as lead in the way as Poison did on Friday night. AC/DC’s seemed appropriate, but Guns and Roses felt like playing a rival’s fight song at Homecoming. An odd moment. When The Commodore’s “Brick House” hit, I thought it would result in a few beers launched at the sound board, but the crowd was a few shots in on a Friday evening and visibly ready to get down – whether it be funk or glam-metal.
Putative headliners Motley Crue came out with a bang, a literal series of explosions, and my karaoke go-to act was on stage. As alluded to above, it was a visual explosion as well. Two dancers descended the firemen’s pole, the drums mounted in a large circle of rigging and a ultra-bright led screen behind waiting to burn out the corneas that survived the various fire streams.
Sadly, the sound and onstage energy didn’t quite match up to the visuals. Again, I was shepherded away after three songs, but the sound quality had me questioning whether this third stop on tour was still working out the kinks but that made the lethargy more apparent. Perhaps a few more shows will resolve some communication and fitness issues and later stops will determine whether four of rock’s legendary bad boys can figure out how to share the sandbox.
Stoney McDougal: Epic. Titties, weed, and Tommy Lee — as God intended.
Stephon’s (continued) Take:
This show answers the question: “It’s inflamed WHERE?”
Not what you were looking for?
Then how about “Foal”? Promoter “Mary” Busey is going post-op, apocalyptic that is.
This show answers the question: “Why am I here?”
Wait, did Gilby Clarke just walk in? No, that’s an usher. Wait, that usher IS Gilby Clarke.
This club has it all: acres of silicone; a screen that displays a wide, wide range of juvenile humor, sexual innuendo, and juvenile sexual innuendo; a rabid pack of peripatetic poodles with mohawks; 3 miles of Thomas the Train track; pinatas filled with Junior Mints, joints and dCon…
Look, is that Bronson Pinchot reading palms in the foyer? No, it’s a Bushwick Bill impersonator doing lines off Judge Judy’s ass.
Inside, you’ll also find Swavorski-encursted Weeble dioramas; the cloying smell of Ben Gay mixed with Axe body spray; and more tanned, toned mid-riffs than a Charlie Sheen coke binge; and on stage — a human snare.
That’s that thing where you trap a midget by a leg, suspend in mid-air and then beat him.
Not a thing?