This past summer, Motley Crue was on the road with Crue Fest 2, its second annual rock festival, including a collection of bands such as Godsmack, Theory of a Deadman and Drowning Pool, in addition to its hard rocking hosts.
Vince Neil's solo appearance at Penn's Peak Thursday night was a Crue Fest, too, but in a different manner; the Motley Crue frontman packed his show full of tried and true Crue hits.
While Neil had recorded solo albums, this concert featured a Motley collection of fist pumping, adrenaline-fueled, riff heavy rock anthems that made him and his cohorts famous, as well as providing the soundtrack for their outrageous lifestyles.
Motley Crue tours can be big productions, such as their Carnival of Sin concert theme, but Neil's show was stripped down, loose and focused on the music.
The backdrop featured a huge skull with checkerboard wings, a giant ad for Tres Rios Tequila, a Mexican brand owned by Neil. He hit the stage with his long blond hair flying all over his face. He wore a T-shirt for Vince Neil Ink, his own tattoo parlor and apparel shop on the Las Vegas Strip. His arms are heavily inked as well.
Most importantly, he was in fine voice, showing no wear from his road stint with the Crue as well as on the current junket on his own.
Neil's backing band has played with him for the past three years and plays with the pedal to the metal. The zany antics of drummer Zoltan Chaney are worth the price of admission himself, as he is intent on beating the skins with elbows, knees and anything he could get his hands on, in addition to mere sticks. Zoltan takes Tommy Lee's powerhouse drumming and adds his own personal flair.
Bassist Dana Strum provides a Nikki Six-like slam to go with Zoltan's pumped up percussion, and guitarist Jeff Blando is capable of taking the lead himself when required, as demonstrated by his lead vocals on covers of Ronnie James Dio Era Black Sabbath ("Heaven and Hell") and Led Zeppelin ("Whole Lotta Love" morphing into "Stairway to Heaven"). Neil even joined in on the fun with a rowdy version of Zep's "Rock and Roll".
The rest was Take No Prisoners level Motley Crue all the way, from the opening "Live Wire" through the guitar excursions of encore "Teaser".
All of the Crue's best known songs were here, save the power ballad "Home Sweet Home"; the emphasis was on loud and fast, such as thunderous renditions of "Looks That Kill", "Piece of Your Action" and "Wild Side". The tempo increased even faster with a rumble through "Kickstart My Heart".
Neil and company never did slow down; the closest they came was when Vince brought out an acoustic guitar for "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)", but this version retained the rock stomp of the original.
It also wouldn't be a true Crue show without guest appearances by "Dr. Feelgood" and "Girls, Girls, Girls", and Vince didn't hesitate to deliver on both.
The performance was all anyone could have expected from a real Motley Crue show. All that was missing was the Tommy-Cam.
Opening the evening was Taunted By Tomorrow, a promising local quintet that features two guitarists, a strong-lunged singer and heavy rhythm. The Palmerton-based band builds drama through restraint, flirting with melody here, working with guitar textures elsewhere. Their stage presence is still being developed, but their sound has potential to pack a wallop.