Mötley Crüe delivers on hellish promise

Rock concerts were my lifeblood as a youth – I’ve been elbowed and stomped in mosh pits, kicked in the face by a crowd-surfer and gotten into a hedonistic mud fight as rain drenched a three-day rock festival in the Netherlands.

I’ve left shows wearing other people’s beer and sweat – always a sign of a good show.

But never have I melted the way I did while spending An Evening in Hell with Mötley Crüe.  When I spoke with Mötley Crüe frontman Vince Neil in August, he promised a show heavy on pyrotechnics, but not just the standard flashes of fire part of any heavy metal concert.

“We have to outdo ourselves every time we put something new together,” Neil said. “This (residency) – I don’t know how we’re going to top this one. There’s some crazy stuff going on in this thing and just a lot of fire and smoke.”

He promised us “An Evening in Hell,” and that is exactly what we got. Even the ushers are dressed as the undead.

“We’re just sinners at heart,” Neil shouts to the crowd at the start of the show. The band played many of their greatest hits and a few lesser known songs, never letting up for a minute.

Mötley Crüe frontman Vince Neil performs during the opening weekend of "An Evening in Hell." Photos: Erik Kabik

I stood there on the main floor, my hair sopping up the sweat on my neck, my shirt drenched. My ears shattered by the explosions and women’s screams, my lungs choking on the carbon-filled air inside the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel.

And as anyone raised on metal will attest, fire is a fascination. More than a few times, I heard the voice of Beavis whisper in my ear, “Fire! Fire!” I was enthralled. At one point, two oversized pentagrams bookended the stage, beckoning us to revel in the fire and brimstone being rained upon us.

My better half, who was 16 years old when he bought Mötley Crüe’s just-released album, “Too Fast For Love,” is not easily impressed. But he stood there, wide-eyed and smiling, taking in the show with the look of a teenage boy at his first concert.

And not even a heavy simulated snowfall could stop the flames of hell. Indeed, it only served to intensify the burn – the entire stage – and I mean, above, below, everywhere — was on fire. None of it seemed to faze the band. Before opening night, bassist Nikki Sixx said in a tweet, “Odd feeling seeing band members stage clothes being sprayed down with fire retardant before show.”

At the end, Tommy Lee – who had been surrounded by the flames most of the show — climbed off his drum kit and put both of his hands on his knees, totally spent from the heat.

I’ve been to Mötley Crüe shows before, but nothing like this. Because Mötley Crüe has the Joint to themselves through Oct. 6, the band is able to use technologies that would have been next to impossible on the road. An added bonus is the smallish venue with a capacity of roughly 4,000, instead of a stadium concert that leaves many squinting to see the show, allowing for a more intimate feel as you venture into hell.