Whilst a half hour tube ride away in Hyde Park, Los Angeles megastars Guns ‘N Roses were laying waste to the thousands gathered there, the hottest place to be in London was Camden’s The Underworld, the famed venue bursting at the seams with the faithful to see Dögs of War.
When news had filtered through social media a few days ago that legendary rock bad boys Mötley Crüe were releasing a new single, ‘Dogs of War’, this announcement was quickly linked to the fact that a mysterious band of the same name had booked a show at Camden. The place sold out the moment the tickets went on sale.
Seeing Mötley Crüe so up close and personal as they ripped into the opening riff of ‘Wild Side’ was a thing of pure rock ‘n’ roll nirvana, the shoulder-to-shoulder audience losing all self-control. The football terrace chant for the chorus of ‘Shout at the Devil’ threatened to drown out the p.a. and the titular ‘Too Fast for Love’ from their debut still sounds like an unholy coupling of Punk and Glam that is as fresh and edgy as when it first emerged some forty-two years ago.
This spark permeates the whole night, the boost given by the band following the film of ‘The Dirt’ stripping back years and ‘Live Wire’ and ‘Looks That Kill’ have the same urgent energy.
While Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee have Crüe in their veins, the addition of John 5 as the band’s six stringer has been a smart move, the guitarist slotting in perfectly into the unit, his playing and positive energy onstage ramping things up. The night obviously means a lot to the band, this closeness with their fans as important as it ever was and the give and take shown highlighting that, despite the years of playing arenas and stadiums, the quartet value all those who’ve put them where they are.
A medley of numbers by The Beatles, Sex Pistols and The Ramones amongst others provides a party singalong atmosphere and their run through ‘(You’ve Got To) Fight for your Right (to Party)’ threatens to tear down the walls of the venue.
At the rear of the stage, Lee is an absolute engine, this pounding on his kit so brutal that it seems to cause the drummer pain such is his commitment, Sixx’s bass playing is equally as impressive as he exudes a studied cool and Neil’s vocals totally on point. ‘Dr Feelgood’, ‘Girls Girls Girls’ and ‘Pimal Scream’ are all played with blistering energy before a souped up ‘Kickstart My Heart’ closes the tight set in animalistic style.
Thrust back into those heady days of the Whisky and Viper Rooms and back to the Rainbow for drinks and partying, this taught sixty-minute set captured all the excitement and fire of those days and show the veterans still have a mighty punch that could floor any of the pretenders to their throne. Rock ‘n roll will never die.
Justin Marque for MPM
Photos by Sam Shapiro