Motley Crue, Poison, New York Dolls – 6/19

WEST VALLEY CITY ” Several thousand people spent Father’s Day with the bad boys and glam boys of rock.

The 2011 summer concert season at USANA Amphitheatre started off with a raucous bang Sunday as Sunset Strip 80s rock icons Motley Crue and Poison teamed up to give several thousand fans a heavy dose of hard rock favorites. And despite heavy rain for most of the day, the wet weather stopped just in time for the show.

Motley Crue, the band that redefined bad behavior and hedonism in the early 80s, played a crowd pleasing hits-heavy set list on a stage filled with enough pyrotechnics and flame-throwing machines that the 4th of July seemed to come a couple of weeks early.

Hitting the stage with a loud explosion, a curtain dropped a Mick Mars launched into the opening guitar riff of “Wildside.” With a set list that was picked by fans before the tour started, the Crue touched on all parts of their 30 year history from their most recent song, “Saints of Los Angeles” to songs from the early days like “Live Wire” and “Ten Seconds to Love.”

Vince Neil’s vocals were stronger than they had been in previous tour stops in Utah. But at many times during the night his vocals were drowned out by the music and at times he resorted to skipping words, especially on vocal straining songs like “Shout at the Devil.” Still, Neil and Nikki Sixx worked the crowd well, roaming to the far ends of both sides of the stage and on several songs accompanied by two scantily clad women acting as backup singers and dancers.

The highlight of the set was Tommy Lee’s drum solo. Lee, known for his wild drum solo antics, brought the roller coaster drum set with him this time. Think of a roller coaster ride at the State Fair that does nothing but goes in a continuous loop. Now think of a drum set connected to the tracks with Lee strapped to it and you’ve got a picture of the drum solo Sunday night. Lee, still one rock’s best drummers, kept a steady beat as he hung upside down and moved around in a complete circle during his five minute solo.

Other crowd favorites on the set list included “Same Ol Situation,” “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)” which also included a sample of Cee Lo Green’s “F.U.,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “Looks That Kill,” “Girls, Girls, Girls” and the power ballad, “Home Sweet Home.”

While Motley Crue displayed the aggressive side of 80s rock, Poison, celebrating their 25th anniversary, brought their party atmosphere to the stage.

Although the set list is essentially the same one they’ve been playing for nearly a decade, and Brett Michaels’ voice has had better days, the band still brought a ton of energy to the stage, much to the delight of fans.

Hitting the stage with their traditional opener, “Look What the Cat Dragged In,” the crowd knew what the band was going to play just about every step of the way. But somehow, Michaels, C.C. DeVille, Rikki Rockett and part-time Utah resident Bobby Dall still approached it in a way that was fun for both them and the audience.

“It could have snowed and we would have still played,” Michaels said as the crowd roared with approval.

Poison danced and ran around the stage for crowd favorites “RIde The Wind,” “Fallen Angel,” “Unskinny Bop,” “Talk Dirty To Me” and “Nothin’ But a Good Time.”

Michaels, a father of two daughters and reality TV star who survived a couple of critical health issues (including a brain hemorrhage) in 2010, wished the crowd a Happy Father’s Day, paid tribute to his own father by playing the riff he learned from the only guitar lesson his father bought him for $14.95, and noted how it was good to be alive.

For the few who showed up early to see The New York Dolls open, they saw a great set. The Dolls were big influences on New York’s punk rock scene of the 70s and also on bands like Motley Crue. Surviving original members David Johansen and Sylvain Slyvain lead the group through favorites “Personality Crisis,” “Dance Like a Monkey,” “Pills” and “Cause I Sez So.”

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