It is a grand experiment and an embrace of the obvious, this Mötley Crüe residency at the Joint. An experiment, because no hard-rock band has performed such a series of shows at a Las Vegas venue, 12 in all, the type of engagement more fitting for a Tom Jones at MGM Grand’s Hollywood Theatre, or on a more grandiose scale, Cirque du Soleil, with its Michael Jackson Immortal arena show at Mandalay Bay. Obvious, because the Joint has returned to its rock roots, and Mötley Crüe happens to be one of the few classic hard-rock bands still intact to carry that message.
- Mötley Crüe Does Sin City
On Friday’s opening night, the show was a high-volume, often careening exercise in sight and sound. Frontman Vince Neil promised an exaggerated version of the band’s ’05-’06 Carnival of Sins tour, and the Joint production is indeed an adult-themed circus. It starts with a quartet of little people (dubbed “Little Crüe”) assuming the roles of each Crüe member. Aerialists perform in silks, and one soloist hangs above the crowd while performing acrobatics with a lengthy chain. Fire blazes behind the band and in front of video panels showing blood flowing and the band’s famed rotating star.
The set is interrupted by an (apparent) mock wedding, in which Neil swaps vows with a bride in a gown cut at mid-thigh, a gal who is “better than free cocaine,” as Neil calls out. A show hostess, a dominatrix type in studded black leather, carries something of a narrative through the performance. The signature stage prop, Tommy Lee’s 360-degree, roller-coaster drum set, thrills the audience. Lee manages to pound out a thunderous solo while spinning around in the contraption, and an audience member is pulled from the crowd to join in the performance. During an acoustic set on a circular platform suspended above the middle of the audience, the music is front and center.
The theatrics are played to the Crüe’s greatest hits, among them “Wild Side,” “Shout at the Devil,” “Looks That Kill,” “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away),” “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “Kickstart My Heart” and “Home Sweet Home.” A band favorite, “Piece of Your Action” from first album Too Fast for Love, is also rolled into the two-hour performance.
The band itself admitted to some first-night snags—the sound was not always crisp, and lighting misfired in the early segments—and invited media back for a second look on Wednesday. Maybe we saw a glorified rehearsal as “Mötley Crüe Does Sin City” was unveiled, but even in raw form, it showed ambition and imagination that should make the Joint effort a rockin’ experience.