Kickstart my Nightmare: Cooper & Crue

Okay, okay, we’ve gotten a little heavy in the past couple of posts. While I stand by all that, it’s time to lighten things up before I totally hole up in my feelings somewhere…After the past couple of weeks, I definitely need to remember some lighter stuff.

So early in July, I broke down and did something I haven’t done in forever – I actually went to a live show. I know, I know, stop the presses, the workaholic actually embraced her social life for once.  There was a lineup that I really couldn’t deny, especially when the tickets were put in my hand and I was told “do you really, seriously want to miss out on this?”

I don’t know at what point I became an Alice Cooper and Motley Crue fan, but no, I definitely did not want to miss out on that. For one, I’ve missed Alice at least six times now (he always seems to come around when I’m eyeball deep  in a tech week or working an event where I absolutely can’t get away), and for Motley Crue, this is it. The last one, the final tour. No, for that I’d beg, bribe, and threaten someone into going with me (What can I say, I’m friends with a bunch of Philistines). Thankfully, it merely took going through a lot of my address book (because my friends are jerkface Philistines but there are a couple good ones still there).

I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow rundown of the show, because nothing I can say will be as fun or amazing as what I witnessed. Only know that they are both absolutely worth seeing and this is probably the best non-Bowie show I’ve ever seen. (Yeah, sorry, in my world there’s David Bowie and then everyone else and I refuse to mix the two columns). I’ve read a little bit online about other shows before the one I went to, but what I saw was tight with no real technical bugs from either act. There may have been some vague glitchy things, but it wasn’t anything I really noticed, and I can tell you right now my inner critic never shuts up. She just doesn’t. I’m the worst person to go see things with because I’m always analyzing, and for once The Critic didn’t come out and play, so I’d say that’s pretty damn good.

Granted, Alice and Crue very different in what they are, so I don’t think you can really compare the two. They both evoke a big, visceral response in different ways.  I’ve read at least one review that tries to put one over the other, and that’s just not fair. They’re totally different animals, but the combination of the two is a complete monster.

I don’t quite know if they appeal to me on a fantasy level, since I’ve definitely seen a lot of life and gotten in my own scrapes and adventures since first listening to them as a small-town gal in a fairly buttoned-up world.  I don’t know if I just really love a lot of spectacle  – but that’s not quite right, either, because the music is so good. It’s probably something I’m never going to define, and it doesn’t need to be defined. I loved it and that’s that.

Alice – I was blown away by how fast-paced he went from one song to another. We’re talking multiple costume changes (mostly coats, but still done onstage), a lot of effects, and an absolutely gorgeous stalkabout puppet (okay, gorgeous to me. We all know I have atypical definitions of the word gorgeous and I now want to build an army of those things to go Christmas caroling with). His voice is still so rich and it really struck me how he planted himself and was constantly moving, working the crowd. When I was studying theatre my advisor made us watch tapes of Sinatra, showing us how he’d play to a crowd using little tricks to keep in motion, and Alice was no different. It was freakin’ masterful, hypnotic, electric. I’d heard about all the stuff he does live, so I was expecting something schlocky. Honestly, a lot of it was intense in a way that I hadn’t expected. The review that favored Alice because it was camp and tame compared to Crue…I don’t know if they were watching the same stuff I was, but there were distinct moments that made me stare and almost squirm. It was…not quite disturbing, but uncomfortable in a good way. It made me react in subtle ways, feel and wonder about what I was feeling and watching. It really bordered between fun and something much harder to define, which I love. I want to react and think from stuff I’m seeing, and he made me do that. His entire band was just epic, and the sound was phenomenal. I love acts that make me wish I was working on the show, and this was definitely one of those moments. Hell, the whole evening was one of those moments.

Motley Crue…well, I didn’t know what to expect. I’ve read a lot of their books, listened to most of the group’s albums plus the side projects. They’ve been…well, I’ve loved them for a long time, but I’ve made a concentrated effort to fall back in love with the music within the past few years. It’s helped me through a lot of frustrating situations, and in what is probably the best compliment they will ever get, their music is plain amazing to sew to. Seriously, Crue is some of the favored music of my workshops because it either keeps people out or lets people know I’m probably working on something I’m excited about. The beat is great to stitch to, yet I can still adjust patterns to it. I’ve made stuff for kids shows, made disgusting latex creations, and built more traditional stuff  to their music  and it always turns out fantastic. I’m sure that’s exactly what they were going for and they’d be honored that I’m using their hard work as such, heh.

Live, they are very different from Alice’s show, but no less phenomenal. This is bone-jarring, molar-vibrating music that makes you sing along and lose yourself to it. I have to say, though, the pre-show song was absolutely perfect and gave me a huge laugh. I have never seen so many metal heads look at each other with WTF expressions in my life. It was glorious.

The sound was beautiful, I loved the song choices – there were only a few that I was disappointed didn’t make the set list, but eh, can’t have everything. Most of my favorites were there. It was awesome to hear Saints of Los Angeles live since it’s one I write to all the time, excellent to hear all the classics and be able to sing along with utter abandon. There’s something raw, primal, almost primordial in their sound, and it hits a really deep button for me. Their songs are celebratory and cautionary, and it was so cool to see how everyone around me reacted to different tunes. Everyone seemed to have their own special moment or memory for every single one of those songs and I wished I could’ve gotten in everyone’s heads (Though I could probably guess what those memories are and it’s probably for the best I was nowhere near their heads).

It’s also the sound of a band who’s grown into itself, who’s been through absolute hell and not only made it out, but made something out of it. They’ve always been good, but the truly great bands take their material and keep working it. It’s like that adage where you where the clothes and the clothes don’t wear you. They are in complete control of those songs and wear their legend well. For those who are truly willing to appreciate them and not cop to rock stereotypes, it’s definitely not the other way around. This is a group that has avoided becoming a punchline, and I’m so glad to see that that’s the case.  The spectacle was there and amazing – the finale to Kickstart My Heart is so huge, so explosive, so perfect – I can’t even describe it. Watching Mick Mars go to town on the guitar was spellbinding. Seriously, I could not look away and it was one of those rare moments where my overactive mind just blanked and I was in the moment and that was how life should be.

This happens like once a year. Clearly, I need his guitar as the constant soundtrack to my life so I can stop over-thinking everything.

Apparently there were things that didn’t make it in because of venue restrictions, I’m guessing there were some tech things because a few shows later it was mentioned that the bugs were worked out – I get people complaining, but that’s part of a live show. You can’t always control things, as much as you’d like to. This is one instance where I can weigh in – I’ve worked on a lot of different types of shows and it is impossible to have something 100% perfect all the time.  Granted, I was far  back, but to my eyes, it looked fabulous. It sounded great. There were all the components, banter, and dancer elements you would expect, though it’s been honed down to a sleek, well-running machine. If I wanted to really nitpick on either act, I might be able to, but you know what? I don’t want to. Nothing major that would affect my enjoyment of the show went down. I think people are very easy to judge, and I get it – you’re paying good money to show up, but sometimes I think we as fans and appreciators have almost superhuman expectations. Live performances are just that. Things happen. You cannot control everything, no matter how hard you try. Besides, the Crue of today is not the same group as when they first started or at their peak, and that’s okay.

You know what? It’s better. Because the band I saw looked ecstatic to be there. They were owning the stage and they were happy. To me, there’s absolutely nothing better than to see a group enjoying what they’re doing, and no one deserves it more than they do. So much nostalgia coursed through me in the space of those hours, so much appreciation, so much everything. It was a pleasure to be there, an honor to celebrate the beginning of the end with so many others. It was so interesting to watch the  crowd caught up in the music, in each other, in all of it. They really have provided a hell of a soundtrack to so many misfits’ lives, and we’re all the better for it.

2 thoughts on “Kickstart my Nightmare: Cooper & Crue

  1. When Cooper and Crue came to my town, I saw the advertisement. Honestly, I wanted to see Cooper before Motley Crue (though I have enjoyed The Crue through the years). I had seen Alice at ROCK THE RAPIDS a few years ago and, dammmmmmmn, he was simply and without a doubt awesome. The music. The stage show. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome.

    1. I can understand that – I’ve waited this long to see Crue, though now I kinda wish I hadn’t. I will say, though, that I think they’ve developed their act into something really well honed in the past eight to ten years, and I appreciate the shift.

      I would totally see Alice again in a heartbeat (hell, if this tour came back close enough I’d probably go again if I could swing it). I was spellbound for his whole act – he has mastered everything about his music and his performance. It’s insane to watch.

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