Def Leppard & Mötley Crüe – Marvel Stadium. Tues 14 Nov
Review: Bryget Chrisfield. Photos Mary Boukouvalas (What’s My Scene)
This Melbourne show marks the final night of Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe’s co-headlining stadium tour, which kicked off in Atlanta on 16 June, 2022.
Disclaimer: As a mad Crüehead, the absence of Mick Mars in this touring lineup almost made me sit this one out. But then FOMO got the better of me. I totally didn’t expect to see replacement guitarist John 5 on their tour merch, though. That came as a shock.
Commencing at the extremely un-rock’n’roll time of 7pm on a school night, Mötley Crüe’s intro tape is some kind of churchy, classical choral music that reminds my plus one of the Queen’s funeral. But as our anticipation builds, we note the sound quality inside Marvel Stadium – roof open this evening – is top-notch and bone-crushingly loud to boot.
On the giant screens, a newsreader details some ‘breaking news’ about Mötley Crüe’s intention to “unify the world”: “And for the next two hours, music will be the only form of communication.” We’re now suitably revved up. John 5 wanders forward through smoke to the front of the stage wearing a long white sleeveless tunic – an albino version of Neo from The Matrix – and slowly raises his arms. Also the Crüe’s hype man, perhaps? He then cranks out Wild Side’s chunky riff and we’re off! Tommy Lee bashes his kit with such immense power – a seriously underrated drummer since his party-dude persona often pulls focus – bassist Nikki Sixx struts around the stage, Vince Neil kinda skips on and then cue the ridiculously hot, gyrating, unapologetically slutty backing dancer duo.
“Who likes to listen to the old shit?” Neil asks. Um, derr. “How about something from the first album?” Too Fast For Love – with its demented-carni riff (waah, we really miss seeing Mars up there on stage!) – follows and the band’s faster-paced old-school material certainly goes down a treat.
Lee’s drumming during Live Wire electrifies – more cowbell! – and this song’s fake finish is intoxicating. Sixx brings out an Australian flag – tone-deaf, much? – before selecting a couple of “beautiful young ladies” from down front to join him on stage for a golden selfie opportunity. The girls then have to clamber up unassisted, which is a bit rough. Sixx: “We retired in 2015 and thank the fuckin’ Jesus Christ, God… whoever the fuck it is that we pulled our heads out of our arse, got back together and came back to Australia!” – okay, that’s debatable.
“I do not and I have not seen one fucking pair of fucking titties – what the fuck?” – yep, Lee’s “Titty Cam” is still a thing and a few females enthusiastically oblige. Not one to discriminate, Lee also invites dudes to get their junk out: “Now’s your chance! On the big screen it’ll look fuckin’ huge!” he encourages. There are exactly zero takers.
Dr Feelgood’s iconic, insistent, incendiary riff catapults all remaining bums on seats to their feet – an undisputed set highlight. Giant inflatable near-naked chicks bookend the stage to usher in Girls, Girls, Girls and Kickstart My Heart is exhilarating, as expected.
“Australia, we love you. We’ll be back.” Hold up, wasn’t Mötley Crüe’s retirement plan – and the “Cessation of Touring Agreement” they’ve since ripped up – put in place to ensure they avoided limping across the finish line? There’s not a single flame or pyro in sight. No Crüecifly or drum coaster for Lee to show off on. And, furthermore, the absence of Mars is deeply felt. This band should’ve signed off – match fit and guns blazing, as was their intention going into “The Final Tour” – eight years ago.
Representing the other side of the Atlantic, Joe Elliott fittingly introduces Def Leppard’s Let’s Get Rocked by inquiring, “Do you wanna get rocked?” And just in case we forget they’re English, we spy multiple Union Jacks including Rick Savage’s decorative bass guitar and drummer Rick Allen’s bedazzled headphones. There’s a lot of bling and sparkle on their stage attire as well and Elliott changes his shacket, mid-show, replacing the red satin number to a shimmering black velour look.
Animal is an early highlight, played as note-perfectly as on record – probably even better, in fact, ‘cause they’ve all obviously honed their musical chops over the decades spent relentlessly touring. They demonstrate crazy synergy throughout and those vocal harmonies are absolutely flawless.
We could never tire of watching Allen drum, one-armed, and the blissful expression on his face throughout suggests he feels like the luckiest man alive up there behind his custom kit. Allen’s spotlit drum solo during Switch 625 actually gives us joy jitters.
Elliott drums up some applause for the Crüe, pointing out they first met “those guys” back in ‘93 when Def Leppard had a record out called Pyromania. Foolin’ – from this very album, their third – follows. A bro in the row behind reads our minds when he enthuses, “They’re so good!” After the crowd cheers wildly, Elliot politely requests: “That noise that you’re makin’, can you make it a bit more?” He then informs us that Def Leppard’s latest album, 2022’s Diamond Star Halos, achieved its highest chart position here in Australia before they launch into This Guitar, a love letter to the song’s titular instrument (“My brother, my sister, my lover, my wife…” what the?).
“When you make love, do you look in the mirror?” – these are peculiar opening lyrics, sure, but Love Bites is dynamically nuanced and boasts a killer chorus singalong op. “It’s bringin’ me to my knees!” – Elliot hits all the high notes, cradled by those swoon-worthy harmonies.
Hysteria really takes us there: “Oh, can you feel it?/ Do you believe it?” Then Pour Some Sugar On Me hits the sweet spot – so, so good!
During Rock Of Ages, we cop an extreme closeup of Phil Collen’s fret-fingering. This Sheffield quintet is super-slick. A class act with plenty of gas left in the tank.