BY JESS BECK | Go Venue Magazine
Well…this didn’t quite go as expected.
Consider this my formal lesson in Phoenix traffic – even if you leave two hours before the show, the majority of the roads will be closed, accidents on the freeway will slow you down, and sometimes those things are just outside your control.
It was because of those factors that I missed the opener, Classless Act. So fellas, I’m sorry about that, but I’ll be sure to catch you on the next run! Y’all look like you’re doing big things, and I’m excited to see where your journey takes you.
Then came the misplaced ticket which caused me to miss the Queen of Rock N’ Roll, Joan Jett. As I waited outside the ticket booth for them to locate credentials, I was informed that Joan’s set had wrapped up, so Joan, if there’s another opportunity to see you live, I promise I will leave 8 hours early to get to the show. For those curious, I’m told that she did amazing, and I wouldn’t expect anything less from her and the Blackhearts!
However, I did get to catch Poison, Mötley Crüe, and Def Leppard, so let’s break these down!
Poison was nothing short of incredible. Bret Michaels is a true showman and delivered an amazing performance to the crowd. I’ll say that while us lowly media people were quite limited on what we could shoot (first two songs for each act), the energy that Michaels brought to this stadium was unmatched by ANY act that followed them.
They started out the night with, “Look What The Cat Dragged In,” to a standing ovation, and even Heidi Klum would’ve been impressed with Poison’s use of the catwalk.
“I’m so excited for this party!” Michaels shouted to the throngs of adoring fans. “It’s been two years in the making, but I’m so happy to be home!”
Michaels also gave a special shout out to the media, thanking us for being there, and had us stop to take photos of the audience. “Turn those cameras around and get the REAL show!” he said as he instructed us to photograph some 30,000 people in attendance. It was a really cool moment, since most bands for some reason seem to hate press. And sure, I’m positive that there are some people who do it for the wrong reasons, but all the photographers I was sharing the pit with are certainly out to change that culture, and I think Michaels could sense that.
Following Poison’s blistering performance, Mötley Crüe took the stage with a fake emergency warning from the giant screens to the pleasure of the audience. As they graced the stage, complete with stage dancers The Nasty Habits (who also doubled as backup vocals), the audience was enraptured as they danced the night away to several of the mega hits that they’ve enjoyed for the better part of four decades.
The best part of their set was the show itself – the lights, the visuals, and production value were all top-notch. The set appeared to be something out of the Terminator films, and at one point they even lowered down two robotic looking vixen statues that took up the entirety of the stage on both sides, which was pretty neat. During their performance of “The Dirt (Est. 1981)” they played a video of rapper (now…pop-punk…ish…fella) Machine Gun Kelly which was pretty cool.
Founding member Nikki Sixx said, “We’ve heard that rock n’ roll is dead. But we’ve been selling out stadiums all across the United States!” to the roar of the audience.
I was a little disappointed that Crüe had dropped a large wooden platform at the end of the catwalk which forced me to shoot from the sides as best I could, and they made no use of the catwalk during the time the media was permitted to shoot which sucked, but it wasn’t as bad as Neil’s voice or Tommy’s antics.
Listen, I get it. They’re Mötley Crüe. They’ve made a name for themselves based on their outrageous shows, and even more outrageous antics off the stage, but with a show that included several children in attendance probably isn’t the best place to encourage women to take their shirts off or to encourage men to whip out their dicks as Lee referenced his full-frontal photo from Bora Bora that surfaced on social media recently.
Or maybe the argument is that you shouldn’t take your children to a Mötley Crüe show?
Either way – it was probably the most cringe worthy moment of the show before they launched into “Home Sweet Home” to a stadium filled with the lights from 30,000 cell phones.
Sound wise though, the band sounded tight even if Vince took a more Bob Dylan approach to the set list, sometimes forgetting timing or depending on the crowd to help finish certain lyrics. While he looks better now than he did during their farewell tour in 2015, he still seems to have aged like a fine milk and should probably give up the ghost at this point.
Special shout out to Mick Mars though for playing through what has to be incredible pain. The aging rocker didn’t move around too much during the performance, but the man still shreds like no one’s business.
Def Leppard rounded out the evening with an impressive set of visuals for themselves as well. While it wasn’t as “trendy” as Crue’s visual production, it was perfect as the English outfit commanded the stage for the remainder of the evening.
They boldly chose to open the show, which is arguably the biggest nostalgia grab of the summer (sorry emo kids, 80s nostalgia will carry on longer than your Rawr XD shit ever will), with a few tracks from their NEW album “Diamond Star Halo.” But they sounded incredible, and if you didn’t know, they easily could’ve been from their massive catalog of 80s bangers.
While there’s only two original remaining members of the band, they still crushed it exactly how I expected them to do. Vocalist Joe Elliott sounded amazing as ever, showing no signs of slowing down when most in his position would be enjoying the easy life that comes with retirement after decades of creating some of the most iconic tracks in music history.
All-in-all, throughout the chaos, the traffic, and the at times painful waiting to jump back into the pit, the show was a huge success. Shout out to the LiveNation staff who work tirelessly to bring us such quality shows in the Valley, and a special thanks to the State Farm Stadium staff who worked their asses off to keep it as orderly as possible.
Until next time, keep rockin’ out to those classic jams that seem to never age. Viva Rock N’ Roll!
Set lists for each act:
- Look What The Cat Dragged In
- Ride The Wind
- Talk Dirty To Me
- Your Mama Don’t Dance
- Guitar Solo (with Eruption by Van Halen)
- Fallen Angel
- Drum Solo
- Every Rose Has Its Thorn
- Nothin’ but a Good Time
- Wild Side
- Shout At The Devil
- Too Fast For Love
- Don’t Go Away Mad
- Saints Of Los Angeles
- Live Wire
- Looks That Kill
- The Dirt (Est. 1981)
- Rock and Roll, Part 2/Smokin’ in the Boys Room/White Punks On Dope/Helter Skelter/Anarchy in the UK
- Home Sweet Home
- Dr. Feelgood
- Same Ol’ Situation
- Girls, Girls, Girls
- Primal Scream
- Kickstart My Heart
- Take What You Want
- Let It Go
- Armageddon It
- Love Bites
- This Guitar
- Two Steps Behind
- Bringin’ on the Heartbreak
- Switch 625
- Pour Some Sugar on Me
- Rock of Ages