Hard Rock transforming into Mötley Crüe campus

As Mötley Crüe prepares for its second residency at the Joint at the Hard Rock, the casino is transforming into a Mötley Crüe campus.

“You can’t get rid of Mötley Crüe if you walk into the Hard Rock,” Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil said.

Rock residencies are not your average concert experience. Bands are not chosen at whim – they have to be able to sell some 4,000 seats a dozen times over the course of a few weeks. Add to that the expectation to be bigger and better than a concert seen on tour, and you’ve got “An Evening in Hell,” said Bobby Reynolds, vice president of booking for AEG Las Vegas.

“(Mötley Crüe) is bringing in an entirely new production,” Reynolds said. “I don’t know exactly what it is yet. They are in the process of creating it and they’re great at doing that. … I can assure you, it won’t be the same exact show. That’s absolutely the case, they don’t want to do that, we don’t want to do that.”

Reynolds said the venue provides fans with an experience they wouldn’t find at an arena or amphitheater.
“It’s a very production focused show, it’s a theatrical show, a pyro heavy show. I mean, this is what they’re known for. When you bring in production that’s typically meant for amphitheaters and arenas and you bring it into a more intimate venue, it’s just that much more powerful.”

Def Leppard performs at the Joint. (Photo courtesy Erik Kabik)

When Def Leppard performed in their Hard Rock residency earlier this year, they took on the pseudonym “Ded Flatbird” and performed as their own opening act, playing hits and obscure favorites not found on their “Hysteria” album. The band then returned to the stage as Def Leppard to play “Hysteria” from top to bottom. With Guns N’ Roses, the band would play for well over two hours, Reynolds said

“We want the artist to put on the show the artist wants to put on,” he said.

The residency model can be beneficial for all parties involved. For an off-Strip property such as the Hard Rock Hotel, it relies heavily on musical acts to draw people to the property. When a new resident artist comes to the Hard Rock, the casino transforms into a sort of campus for the band.

Drinks will take on song names — a “Girls, Girls, Girls” drink can be ordered from the center bar, which will be wrapped with Mötley Crüe artwork. From there, fans can wander over to a craps table and throw dice on Mötley Crüe felt. Eventually, front-of-house staff will be rocking Crüe shirts. Bandmates Nikki Sixx or Tommy Lee might be out playing cards at a blackjack table, while Mick Mars dines at one of the Hard Rock’s restaurants. Neil, who lives in Las Vegas, said he plans to “pack a lunch and f*ckin’ walk to work.”

“It’s great to play every night here at home for me,” Neil said.

Neil said the band is experimenting with new technology and pyrotechnics for their second residency that begins Sept. 18.

“It’s kind of great to be able to use this technology with cool effects that you couldn’t do touring, that you couldn’t tear down every night and rebuild it every day for a year,” Neil said.

Guns N' Roses performs at the Joint

“We are off to a great start with sales,” Reynolds said. “Everything about this is looking better than last time and last time was a tremendous success. We are off to a better start, and I think that really comes down to how the shows were last time.

“It’s word-of-mouth that’s making these sales pace even better than last time. Everyone that I talked to really had a great time at the Motley shows. You see people realize last time that everyone that went to the shows had a great time and people that didn’t go to the shows heard about it and heard they missed a good time. So, clearly, people are taking action right now to get themselves tickets before they’re sold out.”

AEG is in talks with another rock band, but Reynolds said it was too early to announce a residency to follow Mötley Crüe. He did say, however, that previous bands who performed have expressed interest in returning for another residency.

Mötley Crüe performs at the Joint at the Hard Rock Sept. 18 to Oct. 6, 2013.