I was able to get Vince Neil for tomorrow at 10 a.m. Are you available?
The instant that e-mail hit my inbox, I laughed. Am I available at 10 a.m.? Shouldn’t I be asking if Vince will be available? After all, rock stars aren’t exactly known for early wake-up calls, particularly rock stars who front a band that’s known as much—if not more—for its offstage indulgences as its onstage performances. (Who else could title their first greatest-hits album Decade of Decadence and be making an understatement?)
There’s a better chance Mötley Crüe gets a lifetime-achievement Grammy, I thought, than my phone ringing tomorrow morning. But ring it did—precisely at 10 a.m.
“I appreciate you doing this, especially so early in the morning.”
“Hey, man, I’m usually up at 7, so it’s all good.”
Up at 7? This isn’t the Mötley Crüe I grew up following, the one that was just reaching mid-party at 7 a.m. The mind raced. Are the Crüe going soft in their old age? What exactly is this residency at the Hard Rock Hotel going to look like? Four dudes in rocking chairs playing “Shout at the Devil” unplugged?
It didn’t take long for Neil, a longtime Las Vegas resident, to dismiss such a notion. Mötley Crüe has a rowdy, raunchy reputation to protect, and the four heathens from Southern California have every intention of protecting it throughout the 12-show, three-week run at The Joint that begins Feb. 3.
“When you don’t have to tear down [the stage] and put it in a truck and move it 400 or 500 miles every single day, it makes so many more things [possible],” Neil says, with genuine enthusiasm. “And that’s why we’re really excited. … Could you imagine trying to move Le Rêve every single day? It’s impossible; you couldn’t do these big shows and truck them around the country five days a week. So what you’ve seen with Mötley Crüe before, we can really extend that and make it way more out of control!”
Here’s what he means by out of control: aerial artists (with chains instead of silks), midgets (two of whom are “professional” wrestlers), stilt-walkers and massive amounts of pyrotechnics, all of it loosely choreographed to specific songs. “Some of the stage effects that we’re doing have literally never been seen onstage before,” says local freak-show artist Jenn O. Cide, who was hired to help with the production (See profile, Vegas Seven, Jan. 26). “They’re brand-new, and they’re un-fucking-believable.” And as the show’s master of ceremonies and official fire performer, she’ll be contributing to the chaos. “Let’s just say it involves me breathing fire and a midget running away screaming.”
Then there’s a little something called audience participation. Neil wouldn’t go into specifics—“There are some things we’re talking about that I can’t give away,” he says—but this much he did offer: “There’s really no front row. You could be in the very back, and you’re in the front row, or in the middle, and you’re in the front row. You’re actually in the show.” Which only makes sense, because for Neil and his three partners in crime—bassist Nikki Sixx, guitarist Mick Mars and drummer Tommy Lee—it’s always been as much about the show as the music, about turning a concert into an experience. (Yes, Lee’s 360-degree roller-coaster drum kit will be on full display). See, Mötley Crüe figured out long ago that when you pen a song called “Girls, Girls, Girls,” the critics will crush you. But when you perform “Girls, Girls, Girls” on a stage that doubles as a strip club, well, that’s how you consistently sell out arenas for the better part of three decades—and how you become the first rock ’n’ roll band in history to convince hotel-casino executives to hand over the keys to their property for three weeks.
“It’s really, really cool being the first rock band to do this,” Neil says. “I think it’s going to open doors for some other rock bands to come in and do some residencies. Then again, you have to think about the bands that are really known for their visuals—Mötley Crüe, KISS, maybe Ozzy, bands that put on big shows. There’s very few of them. But that’s what Vegas needs. I don’t think you can come in and have a [successful] residency and just kind of stand there and play.”
Says Jenn O. Cide: “If you take one of the craziest fucking bands that’s ever been around—just completely renowned for over-the-top, bat-shit production shows—and then give them three weeks to run free in the Hard Rock for their 30th anniversary, it’s going to be insane.”
In other words, let this serve as the official warning label for the Mötley Crüe in Sin City residency: Celine 2.0 this is not.