Review: Motley Crue a bit sluggish, Def Leppard pleases crowd at Ohio Stadium


Motley Crue’s Vince Neil, clad in black headband and leather jacket, took the stage at Ohio Stadium Tuesday night to red lights, operatic music and a raucous crowd that was already amped up from energetic opening sets from Def Leppard and Alice Cooper.

The Crue opened with “Wild Side,” as in “Take a ride on the wild side!” Indeed. It’s Motley Crue, once legendary denizens of the Sunset Strip and a rock-and-roll lifestyle that took its toll. But instead of wild, it was less than high-powered, as were other songs in its 18-song set.

Southern California’s Motley Crue has been around for more than four decades. So has the U.K.’s Def Leppard. Cooper has been doing this for more than five decades.

That’s a lot of rock and roll living for all. But while the Crue’s show seemed sluggish at times, Def Leppard was tight and crisp, and Alice Cooper was as theatrical as always: top hats, a sword, the cane, the snake, the guillotine, the straitjacket, the theatrics − all there as always. Five hours in all.

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First, the Crue. A little history: In January 2014, the members of the Crue − singer Neil, bassist Nikki Sixx, drummer Tommy Lee and guitarist Mick Mars − announced their final tour, going so far as to sign a “cessation of touring” contract. to guarantee it would be their last.

“You know, we didn’t want to be one of those bands that maybe have one guy left in it or somebody’s brother or something like that,” Neil said, according to Rolling Stone.Get the Evening Update newsletter in your inbox.

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Well, there are bills to pay and lifestyles to continue, so, several tours later, they are back in Columbus, only this time with Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 replacing the 72-year-old Mars, who, for years has struggled with ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that fused the bones of his spine together.

In April, Mars sued the band for allegedly kicking him out because of his condition.

Still, the band’s show had blue and green lasers, two gyrating female dancers and plenty of highlights, including the ballad “Home Sweet Home,” enhanced by phone lights blazing and waving in the crowd. Lee came out on the runway in front of the stage to play the piano that opens the song, not before lifting his shirt and showing the crowd his “Mayhem” tattoo.

The Crue also included a quick mini-set of five covers: Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2;” Brownville Station’s “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” which the Crue recorded more than 30 years ago; the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter;” The Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the U.K.” − “Anarchy in the U.S.A.” in this case − and the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for your Right.”

But “Shout at the Devil,” the show’s second song, sounded a bit muddy, and “Looks that Kill” rumbled instead of fired as in past shows.

“Kickstart My Heart” ended the show, and brought things to where they needed to be, as Sixx −whose heart was indeed kick-started in 1987 − whirled on the runway, bringing everyone to their feet, where they had been for most of the show.

Shawn Boggs, 57, traveled all the way from Charleston, W. Va., with his wife, Christy, 52, and son Bray, 18, for the show. “It’s the fifth time I’ve seen them on this tour,” he said. He remembered when he witnessed Motley Crue’s star unveiled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006. He said he stood near Sixx and “Mister Belding from ‘Saved By The Bell.'”

David Muncey, 45, of Columbus’ North Side, brought his son Jaxson, 10. “Father-son outing,” said Muncey, who said he had seen Motley Crue three times and Def Leppard once before Tuesday night. Dad wanted to bring Jaxson because his son had never seen a show at Ohio Stadium.

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Def Leppard − singer Joe Elliott, guitarist Phil Collen, bassist Rick Savage, drummer Rick Allen and guitarist Vivian Campbell, who remains the “newest” member of the band after joining in 1992 − took a spare stage and came to please with “Animal,” “Rock of Ages,” “Armageddon It,” “Love Bites,” and “Rocket,” with the crowd singing every word.

Elliott, wearing a blue velour coat and spangled black shirt contrasting with his white mane, worked and connected with the crowd. “We’re here now. “Hi, everyone!” he said after mentioning that last year’s tour missed Columbus.

Elliott, Savage, Collin and Campbell joined at the front of the runway with acoustic guitars for a song released last year, “The Guitar”: “It’s crazy I know, but this guitar saved my life.”

Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell is featured on the big screens at Tuesday's Motley Crue/Def Leppard/Alice Cooper show at Ohio Stadium

Allen, wearing Union Jack headphones, received the biggest applause from the crowd after a drum solo; Allen uses multiple pedals and his right arm and hand after losing his left arm in an auto accident in 1984.

The show’s highlight was “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak,” with Collen and Campbell trading licks at the front of the runway during the instrumental coda of the album version of the song, bringing the biggest applause of the night until “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” One lump or two.

Video screens showed old videos and images of the band, including old concert posters. During “Photograph,” the last song of the night, old photos of the band’s early days came up on the screen, as well photos of people in the crowd.

“There will be a next time,” Elliott told the crowd, promising to return to Columbus.

Alice Cooper kicked things off at 5:45 p.m., an hour-long set with “No More Mister Nice Guy,” “I’m Eighteen” and “Poison,” his 1980s comeback song.

Wearing a star-spangled white top hat, he sang from a red, white and blue bunting-draped podium during “Elected.”

“Why not me? I’m your man,” Cooper said.

“We have problems all over Ohio. And personally, I don’t care,” he joked.

Cooper closed out the show with “School’s Out,” fitting for August, although it won’t be out for much longer.

Big crowd. “A” and “B” decks were full, as well as the field. No tickets sold for “C” deck.