Motley Crue w/Faster Pussycat
April 11, 1990
It was a comfortable spring Wednesday evening when Motley Crue brought their machine-like Dr. Feelgood tour to the brand-new Knickerbocker Arena in Albany NY. At the time I was a baby-faced, mullet-wearing teenager (I’m dating myself here) who was ecstatic to be seeing his first rock concert. Well before YouTube and setlist.com, I had only the experiences of others at previous concerts and had no idea how this night would transform me into someone who has seen so many bands that he can officially say he has probably seen his final live show.
In 1990, Motley Crue was the biggest band in the world. Their latest opus, 1989’s Dr. Feelgood spawned no fewer than five hit singles and became the group’s first number one record. The tour to support the album was selling out arenas and amphitheaters across the US, with stops in Europe and Russia thrown in for good measure. By the time the show touched down in Albany, the tour had been rolling for six months.
The lights went down, and we were treated to a laser show of a ghoulish looking figure (band mascot Allister Fiend) who was recounting the band’s history up to that point. Once he was finished, there was a loud explosion, and the opening chords of Kickstart My Heart began to ring out. Drummer Tommy Lee was entrenched behind his red Dr. Feelgood kit, while the rest of the band made their appearance through trap doors on the stage, accompanied by another explosion. It was on!
Expecting little more than one of my favorite bands playing its popular songs in front of me, I was blown away by the enormity of the show. Blinding lights were carefully placed above the stage, choreographed to the beat of each song. The sound, later said to be more than double what was necessary for a venue of that size, gave me a ringing ear that lasted several days. I still remember feeling the boom of the kick drum in the pit of my stomach. Scantily clad lady back-up singers, dubbed, The Nasty Habits, stood high above the band, complementing the group with high harmony vocals, while providing the teenage boys in the audience a visual that was sure to stay with them far into the night.
The band tore through Red Hot, Rattlesnake Shake, and Too Young to Fall in Love, before arriving at Shout at the Devil, projecting upside down pentagrams from the rotating pods above the stage. A searing column of flame kicked the band into the main rhythm, burning my eyelids nearly shut. Lead vocalist Vince Neil and bassist Nikki Sixx were rarely still, often sprinting from one end of stage to the other, each side fit with their own, “I’m a rockstar,” platform.
Following a blistering solo from criminally underrated guitarist Mick Mars, Tommy Lee appeared behind an electronic drum kit on steroids that was suspended from the roof of the arena. Pounding out beats to famous classic rocks songs at the time, such as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Rick Derringer, Lee addressed the crowd with a mouth only a mother could love. After leaving the drum kit and swinging down to the main stage via a long rope, Lee unfortunately mooned the crowd, much to the delight of the ladies, and to the chagrin of the guys.
Looks That Kill, Smokin’ In The Boy’s Room, Wild Side, and Girls Girls Girls ended the main set, each song ramping up the momentum already built by the drum solo. After a brief intermission, the band returned to encore with its latest single, Without You, before ending the show with its huge hit, Home Sweet Home, and the title track to the new album. The show ended with enough bombastic flash pots to split every eardrum in the building.
I remember the severe high I was on in the days and weeks following this concert. For a year or so, Motley Crue was all I ever played on my Walkman and car stereo (I’m dating myself again). The show made me thirst for others, which I fulfilled over the next few years. While I have seen dozens of bands, many technically light years ahead of Motley in a musical sense, there is only one first concert, and the Crue will always hold a special place in my heart because of this night.
Hair metal upstarts Faster Pussycat opened the show, mainly featuring songs from its latest album, Wake Me When It’s Over, ironically released on the same day as Dr. Feelgood. The band’s brand of blues and sleaze rock more than adequately served as a proper warm-up to the Crue. Highlights were the huge hit, House of Pain, as well as older songs, Don’t Change That Song and Babylon.
Motley Crue Setlist:
Kickstart My Heart
Too Young to Fall in Love
Shout at the Devil
Same ‘Ol Situation
Slice of Your Pie
Looks That Kill
Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room
Girls Girls Girls
Home Sweet Home
Faster Pussycat Setlist:
Where There’s a Whip There’s A Way
Slip of the Tongue
Don’t Change That Song
House of Pain