Mötley Crüe, Poison and New York Dolls Roll Through Toronto

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Mick Mars - Motley CrueMötley Crüe with Poison and the New York Dolls
Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
Toronto, ON
June 28, 2011
Photo By: Dan Savoie

It was an old-school rock ‘n roll spectacular as Mötley Crüe, Poison and the New York Dolls rocked Toronto’s “Amp”, as part of a summer long tour marking not one, but two, band anniversaries. Both the Crüe and Poison were established in Hollywood, CA, on the Sunset Strip “scene”; the Crüe in ’81 and Poison in ’86. Complimenting perfectly and setting the mood were the New York Dolls, said to be hugely influential on headliners Mötley Crüe’s early career.

The legendary glam/punk rock New York Dolls opened the show with “Looking for a Kiss”. Lanky, Mick Jagger-esque frontman David Johansen led the band through several of their classics, including “Personality Crisis” and “Pills”. Mixed into the 40-minute set were a couple of tracks from the their brand new release, “Dancing Backward in High Heels”. The Dolls entertained, but it was disappointing that the only original band member, other than Johansen, guitarist Sylvain Sylvain, didn’t perform due to undisclosed illness. Johansen joked, telling the crowd that it was a reaction to the “brown acid”.

Next up, Bret Michaels and company, Poison. Or could it be said, CC Deville and company? Guitarist Deville clearly stole the show from the maple leaf bandana wearing Michaels.  He was surprisingly good. Totally killed it.  While Michaels may be the star of the band, Deville’s musicianship and stage presence made him a standout, especially in comparison to drummer Rikki Rockett or bassist Bobby Dall, who reminded this reviewer of a middle-aged suburban high school geography teacher. Rockett was good, but Dall seemed awkward and out of place. The band opened their hour-long set with “Look What the Cat Dragged In” and performed their biggest hits, including “I Want Action”, “Fallen Angel”, “Unskinny Bop”, “Every Rose has it’s Thorn”, and ended the set with a rousing rendition of “Talk Dirty to Me.”

Mötley Crüe – who most in the near capacity crowd (the Amphitheatre holds 16,000) came to see. The band hit the stage, attacking full throttle, with “Wild Side”. Singer Vince Neil’s vocals were strong and clear, which, anyone who’s seen the Crüe in concert more than once, like this reviewer, can tell you isn’t always the case. But predictably, as the set went on, Neil’s voice prowess waned somewhat. One man who usually doesn’t seem to get the recognition he deserves, is now 60 year-old Crüe axeman, Mick Mars. Mars has a bone disease that has left him in chronic pain with a fused spine, but he can still outplay most guitarists on the scene today. Spot on, every time. Kudos to Mr. Mars.

For this tour, the Crüe, through social media, allowed fans to weigh in on what their set list should include. Aside from the band’s usually played greatest hits, two long retired songs were added to the mix, much to the crowd’s delight; “Too Young to Fall in Love” and “Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room”. Tommy Lee usually performs an exceptional drum solo, but on this tour, it’s over-the-top camp…in a good way. An awe-inspiring 360-degree drum kit roller coaster lets the eternally boyish Lee perform in different positions, including long pauses that allowed him to play upside down. A local contest winner, who was suppose to ride with Tommy for a portion of the solo, couldn’t be located, so joining Lee for that was none other than Kerri Kasem. For those not in the know, Kasem is Crüe bassist and band founder Nikki Sixx’s co-host for his Sixx Sense rock radio show.

The Crüe’s 90-minute set was a full on assault on the senses; loud as hell, pyrotechnics galore, a blood spitting Sixx and an audience fist pumping and singing/screaming along to the band’s classic anthemic hits. The show ended with “Kickstart My Heart”, a song for which the band’s chief songwriter, Sixx, wrote the lyric, “I’d say we’re still kicking ass!”

On that night in Toronto, the tour’s only Canadian stop, his lyrics couldn’t have been proven to be more prophetic.

Mötley Crüe set list:

Wild Side

Saints of Los Angeles
Live Wire
Shout at the Devil
Same ‘Ol Situation
Primal Scream
Home Sweet Home
Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)
Looks that Kill
Dr. Feelgood
Too Young to Fall in Love
Ten Seconds to Love
Girls, Girls, Girls
Smokin’ in the Boys Room
Kickstart My Heart