On Thursday night, the 19th of February, the Last Vegas band walked onstage of the Resch Center in Green Bay, WI. Dressed in leather like an 80's glam/rock band, Last Vegas was the first underlining group for Motley Crue. The concert started on time, despite the fact that only about 60% of fans had showed up for the start.
Guitar player Adam Arling is a good musician with a Jimmy Page kind of style. The solos he's able to peel off are much like ones you hear in the metal and hard rock songs of the 70's. Johnny Wator and Danny Smash do a nice job of supporting the already powerful Arling.
Unfortunately, Adam's brother, drummer Nate Arling, wasn't having as stellar a night. Midway through the first song, part of his drum set got knocked over. This lead to a roadie having to come help him set it back up, resulting with a lack of percussion during the first chorus of the song.
Lead singer Chad Cherry did a fair job of singing for the night, although it was usually hard to understand the words he was trying to sing. Maybe they were having a bad night, but the band could-and probably has-sounded better than they did that night. Still, they were a good start for the night and I would like to see them playing again when they are on fire.
Then Theory of a Deadman followed. As they followed the Last Vegas on, the Vancouver group started their set off strong with "So Happy," the first song on their new album, "Scars and Souvenirs."
While they did play a lot of heavy-metal songs, Theory did a great job with some of the slower, gentler ballads from the new album. Tyler Connolly proved that he could pull off the softer and gentler songs with singles like "Hate My Life," "End of the Summer," and the quiet, piano-led "All or Nothing." The guys also played the 2003 hit "Santa Monica."
That being said, they also played the heavier songs that hard rock fans came to the Resch to hear. The audience went crazy when the riff from new favorite "Bad Girlfriend" came wailing from the speakers. "Got it Made" also got people moving.
Some of their songs made transitions that really showed the creativity of the band. The organ intro from "Little Smirk" leads perfectly as a sirens' call into the power rock-style verses. Also, the wandering distorted guitar part at the start of "By the Way" contrasts amazingly with the pop-rock tone of the rest of the song.
Connolly's soft, strong vocals were definitely a highlight of their performance. He sang over the noise of the drums and amplifiers pretty well, although on the louder numbers he was sometimes hard to understand. His guitar playing sounded excellent also, proving he could sing lead and take a solo or two at the same time.
Guitarist Dave Brenner showed he was nothing if not versatile in their diverse set. From the quieter, almost acoustic guitar chords at the start of "Hate My Life" to the electric power chords in "Not Meant to Be," Brenner really shined.
Serving as the backbone of Theory of a Deadman, bass player Dean Back kept the band together and shook the walls of the Resch Center. He and Brenner also showed the harmonic sides of themselves, backing up Connolly and enhancing the overall vocal quality of the band.
While Theory of a Deadman wasn't the headlining act, they definitely entertained fans who came to listen to Hinder and Motley Crue, and maybe even won over a few of them. They put on a great show, and afterwards they even came out to sign autographs for the fans for a little while. With the combination of heavy-metal grind numbers and soft, melodic pop-rock tunes, along with lyrics you can relate to and laugh at, they made their mark in Green Bay.
After the bar was set high by Theory, Hinder walked out as the last group before Motley Crue that night. Hinder, who is probably best known for songs like "Lips of an Angel" and "Better Than Me," started with some hard-rock jams. They played the title track of their album "Take it to the Limit" and, as a nice little surprise, Motley Crue guitarist Mick Mars came out and helped them with it.
Singer Austin Winkler's voice is only getting better with time. He showed that he could sing hard rock songs just as well as anyone else. As an entertainer, he also did a better job than any of the other acts at getting the crowd involved. Before starting their new single, "Up All Night," he taught the audience part of the chorus and told them when to sing that part. He did it in a way that didn't seem tacky or arrogant; he actually made it fun for the fans to sing along to.
Hinder guitarists Joe "Blower" Garvey and Mark King are a force to reckoned with. They can play the same electric guitar part and empower each other on one song, then play another song in completely different styles and contrast each other, making the song sound deeper and more diverse. During their smash hit single "Lips of an Angel," one picks up and acoustic guitar and the other plays harmony notes with his electric, leading to a balance of calm, low acoustic guitar chords and a crying, amplified solo.
Drummer Cody Hanson is the rhythm of the band. He holds them together during the faster, more intense songs, but can also play the beat during their softer songs, too. Bass guitar player Mike Rodden makes his bass blend in nicely with Garvey and King. However, it would be cool to see him take the front row with more of a moving bass line. He is capable of it and would really stand out with it if given the opportunity.
Hinder ended its set with their first single ever released "Go Home, Get Stoned," where Winkler again got the crowd singing along with him. Fans were obviously very pleased with the show, but preferred their older hits. When asked by Winkler if they should play songs from the new album, fans shouted back "No!" wanting to hear more of the older, more popular old songs than the hard rock that Hinder kept dishing out. Even so, Hinder had a great show and fans got what they came to listen for. More importantly, they, and the other two acts, pumped up the crowd for the biggest act of the night: Motley Crue.
My first thought when Motley took the stage was 'What's up with the basic stage?' Motley has always been so over the top when it comes to their live shows, you come to expect that. This tour has them on a near empty stage with the Hollywood sign displayed backwards behind them. My disappointment in the stage setup quickly disappeared when light show and pyro kicked in. The lights were incredible, and the fireworks were used often.
I won't rehash the show, since it's basically the same show they've been doing for years with a few new songs sprinkled in. Those songs, off their new album "Saints of Los Angeles", went over far better than the songs from the new Hinder CD. Fans knew word for word the title track, and nobody left for a bathroom break when a new song was played.
What was even more disappointing to me than the stage setup was the lack of a Tommy Lee drum solo. In fact, the normally spotlight seeking drummer didn't even talk on the microphone. In a previous review, I stated how disappointed I was with the techno styled drum solo he did back in 2005. Looking back, SOME drum solo is better than NO drum solo!
The overall interaction between the band and the crowd wasn't what it has been in the past. They played for about 90 minutes, with very little stage banter. Lead singer Vince Neil was in fine form, both in his singing and his covering the stage. Some can complain how he only sings part of the lyrics and has the crowd sing the rest. But that's more of his style than a comment on how he's gone 'down hill' as the years go by. Guitarist Mick Mars was spot on, as usual. Bass player Nikki Sixx was his entertaining self even with the extra pounds that he now sports. Tommy Lee just played the drums like a normal drummer. Good, but nothing out of the ordinary.
Overall, a great rock show. Again, Motley Crue is about over the top and in your face Rock n Roll. Unfortunately, this show just seemed to be more about the music and less about the show. Good for some bands, but good enough for the Saints of Los Angles? Time will tell...
- Nic Hermann
- Brett Christensen
- all photos courtesy of the Resch Center/PMI