The eerie tones of Vincent Price ring out as Alice Cooper emerges in a black cloak for Welcome To My Nightmare. With a toss of the cane it’s No More Mr Nice Guy, delivered in fetching pinstripes and spats. His triple guitar attack line-up is like a gang of vampire bikers circling their prey while Alice grabs his crutch to square up to them during Under My Wheels like a sociopathic drunk.
The Coop throws everything at this truncated show which balances standards and cult gems well. During Go To Hell he appears stroking a python as bassist Chuck Garric delivers the sleazy funk groove, looking like he could’ve been in the original Cooper band with his mutton chop sideboards, bell-bottoms and leather flying jacket. The blood-spattered Feed My Frankenstein culminates with a giant monster thrashing the boards.
It’s followed by Ballad Of Dwight Fry and a straitjacketed descent into madness with a gyrating, demonic nurse. The artist formerly known as Vince eyeballs the crowd before his decapitation and the brilliantly terrifying I Love The Dead. For the School’s Out grand finale in top hat and tails, the ringmaster slays a procession of enormous balloons as tiny bubbles decant from the stage.
Alice has staked his claim and Mötley Crüe have a lot to live with. The quartet arrived on these shores for the first time 31 years ago as the opening act at Monsters Of Rock. The bottled piss and raw liver they dodged on stage only added to the brouhaha. Surviving car crashes, overdoses and setting themselves on fire, the band finally signed their own death warrant with “a cessation of touring agreement”. As Tommy Lee asserted, it was time to retire “before something terrible happened”.
The Crüe have never been short of ideas and this was a belter – The Final Tour is their most ambitious yet. Walking on to the deafening sound of motorcycle engines, Girls, Girls, Girls chugs the band into gear. Nikki Sixx stalks and bounces as frontman Vince Neil makes full use of the stage with a lively dart-about. Two brassy backing singers bump and grind in front of an arsenal of pyrotechnics and vapour trails.
Wild Side maintains momentum, and there’s no mistaking Mick Mars, who resembles an ancient sorcerer casting his thick, distorted riffs. The tight glam punk of Looks That Kill which underpinned the first two albums has every head nodding in time, before Smokin’ In The Boys Room, which summoned their first flush of success. The Brownsville Station song has been made their own, unlike a lumpen Anarchy In The UK, during which an orange-jumpsuited gang drenches the front row with water pistols. The towering Sixx dries them off with the aid of a flame-throwing bass, which blazes 30 feet into the air. A massive pentagram then burns during Shout At The Devil, before the band segue into Louder Than Hell.
Tommy Lee has outdone himself with the ‘Cruecifly’ roller coaster, booming and yelling as his drum kit soars over the crowd, before spinning upside down. The juggernaught groove bolsters Kickstart My Heart, before a stop in the middle of the arena for an emotive farewell. Thousands of mobiles light up during Home Sweet Home, while Neil sways the mic stand amid a mass Geordie singalong.
Mötley Crüe were never going to do fading away. It’s clear the band have left rock’n’roll with a rather large space to fill. Tonight they retain the same entertaining spirit and edge that came alive in the Leicestershire countryside all those years ago.