There's a lot that comes to my mind as we round the bend on a full year since MÖTLEY CRÜE played, what is to be hoped for integrity purposes, the group's final show. I caught MÖTLEY on the "Dr. Feelgood" tour, and had the opportunity to reconcile some sour feelings at the Capital Centre on the outskirts of the nation's capital. I recall the partying in the parking lot prior to the show. The brawls after the gig were legendary; one was instigated by someone from our party — a classless clown who got trashed and whizzed all over someone's car in that same parking lot. At the show, I saw a girl from high school I'd had a severe crush on. She had been considered one of the most popular girls and was secretly a closet headbanger. I wanted her even more in that moment but still lacked the guts to approach her. She'd been one of many who'd laughed along with those who had tormented me through 1984 when I wore a CRÜE "Shout at the Devil" shirt. I'd paid my dues and everyone else's by the time the mainstream "Girls Girls Girls" album collected those same pests. Most of them, weirdly enough, befriended me after I joined weightlifting for three years while remaining a practicing headbanger.
Still, I'd been angry so many non-headbangers had gotten on board with MÖTLEY. They were the same kids now looking for my approval after calling me a devil worshipper before "Wild Side" changed their minds. I will say after coming out of the Cap Centre, I felt like I'd been justified for liking MÖTLEY CRÜE before everyone else — at least on the East Coast. What a freaking concert: pyro, lasers, Tommy Lee drumming from the arena rafters — Jesus. It was everything the band bragged about and then some. As far as a band going balls-out to entertain its audience, a Top-10 show in my book.
Everything I saw back then, however, can hardly stand up to this farewell tour. Appropriately, their touring ended where the path of debauchery laid itself open for Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee. "The End: Live in Los Angeles" captures CRÜE's last performance at Staples Center in L.A., and places a binding stamp upon the group that broke every single code of conduct imaginable. Except for Mick Mars, the stories behind MÖTLEY CRÜE are well-documented, viscerally penned in Nikki Sixx's "The Heroin Diaries". They are hooligans with rap sheets who have noses that probably despise them to this day and long-ago tally lists that might even give Gene Simmons a run. However, the MÖTLEY posse are largely settled down now with families as they put the wrap to a near-35-year-run this past New Year's.
This makes watching "The End: Live in Los Angeles" more than sobering (pun intended). To see the foursome hit it and quit it, pulling out all the stops to leave a venerable imprint from a group of guys carrying histories of sometimes horrible reputations. No need to rehash what MÖTLEY's been through individually over the years. What speaks here and now is how colossal this show is. It's a total spectacle as Tommy Lee one-ups his drum cage theatrics with a roller-coaster rail, which so happens to break on this day while he's suspended upside down during the set. Not to mention Nikki Sixx's astonishing flamethrower bass, which is an apparent homage to the aforementioned Gene Simmons.
This show might've set a record for the most pyro launched inside a solitary set, which says everything considering pyro defined The Big Eighties. In 2015 going into '16, MÖTLEY CRÜE lit this sumbitch up and not merely for "Shout at the Devil", which had to have opened up the pores of the first thirty rows of spectators.
Getting the one qualm out of the way, it takes Vince Neil three full songs until "Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)" to get his pipes in order. It might've been emotion or something else altogether, but Neil is clearly way off for a while, his backup singers/dancers carrying him until he picks up the guitar for ""S.O.S. ", only here does he begin to engage vocally. When MÖTLEY digs hard into "Looks That Kill", Vince is far more relaxed, allowing him and Nikki to goof on one another during the song.
It's the understated, grim-faced Mick Mars, shredding and strumming beneath the pummeling firepower around him, the stage at times looking like a battleship in full engagement, who shows why MÖTLEY CRÜE was more than the world's biggest threat to decent society. Mars can often appear obtuse while playing, you have to look hard for his minute guitar-god grimaces, but the man's clearly focused—obsessed, even—to put a decisive mark upon "Looks That Kill", "Kickstart My Heart", "Primal Scream" and of course, his moving slides on "Home Sweet Home".
The set starts with what is normally the rear section of a MÖTLEY CRÜE show, dropping many of their biggest commercial hits right off the bat with "Girls Girls Girls" and "Wild Side" then "Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.)" and "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) ". Surprisingly "Without You" didn't make the cut, but instead, the band pounds through a quick dusting from its first few albums, including its popular BROWNSVILLE STATION cover, "Smokin' In the Boys Room". Next comes "Looks That Kill", "Shout at the Devil”, "Louder Than Hell" and later, "Live Wire". Dropping "Mutherfucker of the Year" and "Saints of Los Angeles" in-between with a high-octane tear through "Dr. Feelgood" and "Kickstart My Heart" (the latter finding Vince and Nikki swooping midair on cherry pickers), the expected finale is, naturally, "Home Sweet Home". Vince has noticeable trouble delivering his fadeout hum, fighting his tears as Tommy Lee twinkles the piano melody to close. Vince uses the word "motherfucker” so often in the show it's like a defense mechanism. Even in his final goodbye in this show, profanity masks his momentary sorrow.
In all, a glorious finish for a band that even its constituents will tell you is surprised by how far they made it, much less making it alive. "Red Hot", "Keep Your Eye on the Money" or especially "Piece of Your Action" would've sent this show orbital, but what MÖTLEY gave on its last night will be something to remember by those who witnessed it firsthand. The interview segments on the bonus features end up becoming a quickly condensed band bio and are as worth the price of admission to this DVD/CD set as the feature performance. It's as nice to see Mick Mars share memories and smile, as it is to see MÖTLEY CRÜE draft up its unprecedented "cessation of touring" agreement. A show this potent should stand as a final, lasting impression.