(Live Review) THE STADIUM TOUR (MOTLEY CRUE / DEF LEPPARD / POISON / JOAN JETT) - Milwaukee, July 17
Review by Mark McQueen
Well, this was a barn burner two years in the making. Originally, I purchased these tickets in 2019. Then COVID-19 shut down music in 2020 and this monolith still could not get off the ground in 2021. Finally, more than 1000 days AFTER the tickets were purchased, The Beard, Little Johnny, and special guest Emily Whalen began the day getting ready to rock.
A late breakfast/early lunch at Sobelmans (in Milwaukee) had us all splitting “The Beast” , a Bloody Mary concoction featuring 64oz of Bloody Mary with a 64oz pitcher of Beer and a basket of fries.
The Bloody Mary was adorned with:
Two Hamburgers, a skewer of meat and cheese, a skewer of shrimp, a skewer of bacon wrapped pork, a skewer of olives and pickles, a skewer of fried cheese wedges, a skewer of cucumber slices, and a dozen celery sticks.
For ten more dollars, we could have added an entire fried chicken but hey, we did not want to be pigs.
From there it was a short journey to Miller Park, and a LONG journey from the parking lot to eventually end up, beers in hand, (yes more beers AFTER the Bloody Brunch experience), at our seats stage right seven rows back. It was here we would remain for approximately the next 8 hours.
This stadium holds 41,000 people plus the seats on the field. Realistically, we were three of about 48,000 rockers here to see this show. That is a serious crowd.
Keeping to a tight schedule, at exactly 4:00pm, in the baking bright sunshine came openers ...
Opener Classless Act, from LA, gave us a 30-minute 80’s warm-up set of original tunes. These guys were not on the official bill, but even if you are only playing for a filling-up stadium, you still get your music out to a lot of people, so I am sure they are thrilled for the opportunity.
Thank God for the breeze. Hot in the direct sun out here on the field with no shade. Emily and I were each down to one shirt. Johnny went for zero shirts, but we did convince him pants were mandatory.
Classless Act sounded like an amalgamation of multiple 80’s-era bands. For what they did, (throwing some live music at the crowds filing in) was fine. I do not know if this will, (or even should), advance their careers, but what a rush to hit the road with star power like this. 74/100
JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS
40 years of being cool, the female Fonz ripped through a quick set of her greatest hits. If you do not look too close at Joan, she is still hot for her age. The 50-foot video screens were careful not to go too high def on her hands or face as almost half a century in the Rock world has definitely taken its toll on her body.
Little Johnny said “Who’s the old broad? She can play guitar.” Little respect Johnny. She’d probably beat your ass inside of a minute. Johnny took a look at Joan’s ever-present black sleeveless t-shirt, as well as her ever present “bicep guns”, and gave a nod of agreement.
Joan’s voice is developing a thicker east coast accent, but she still knows her job and she is always good at it. Joan Jett and Cheap Trick are probably the most consistent openers touring right now.
Not to be under appreciated, the Blackhearts also laid down that rock/punk sound, the solo line during “Everyday People” was really quite good. Even though everyone loves the sing-a-longs, THAT solo was the star moment of their set.
Ending the set with “Bad Reputation” was an interesting choice because it is less a singalong than either “I Love Rock and Roll,” or “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” Both of which directly preceded it.
Joan could get 80/100 if she sucked. Tonight, she nailed a better 86/100.
Although I found their set overall a bit sloppy, saving the day was CC Deville whose guitar work was perhaps even crisper than in his heyday. A remarkably close cover of Van Halen’s “Eruption” during his solo had the Beard nodding along and Little Johnny applauding.
Outside of that, Poison was always my wife’s band, not mine. I am a bit wistful thinking how much she would have enjoyed this. For me, the set was 78/100. No disrespect meant, just other than Deville, they did not move me. Brett seemed to pander a lot and I did not think he was in great shape vocally. Johnny on the other hand wants to party with that band.
I have often stated Def Leppard is the Hall of Presidents of Rock bands. Super choreographed, and Def Leppard hawks more product than anyone but KISS. They had their new CD, a book, a brand of beer, a video game, their new website, the list goes on. Is it too far-fetched that eventually I can get buried in a Pyromania Def Leppard coffin?
Still the Beard is looking at this set. A collection of hits, as expected, video lit and choreographed to the nines, but as you watch the crowd respond, you realize there is a reason they do that. Because it works.
Singer Joe Elliot walks the line between having white blonde and just plain white hair. Guitarist Phil Colin is still ripped, Rick Allen still kills it with one-armed drumming. Technology assist or not, that guy kicks ass. Rick Savage and Vivian Campbell are also smaller parts of the big unit, but if you took them away it would not be Def Leppard.
Johnny was fully into the Lep, and I have to say the act spanned all 40 years including some classics I do love. “Foolin'” was pretty stellar and damn that crowd was loud.
Other bangers for the Beard included “This Guitar,” and “Bringing on the Heartbreak.” The ending solo on that was superb. Probably the best musical moment of the evening in my opinion.
Johnny came by and said “That was awesome. When did they write that?” “Before you were born little dude. Before you were born.”
There were songs though where you could see behind the curtain. “Love Bites” was rife with technical wizardry that pulled Elliot’s voice that extra bit. Do not misunderstand me, he can still sing, he just cannot sing like 1983-87. At least not without some help.
Again, though Def Leppard is “a show” and they know it. They are able to Warner Brothers themselves and really sell it. The video screen of old photos during closer “Photograph” was a great send off to realizing just how long and successful a career they have had.
Grading them can be difficult. But the Beard is saying 92/100 because they entertained a stadium of 48,000 and they can do that with confidence. Not at all easy.
MOTLEY CRUE Motley Crue hit the stage. The Beards first thought??? Rough.
Mick Mars already looked dead ten years ago. Now, he makes Alice Cooper look vibrant. Nikki looks like he crawled out of the gutter to learn he had to play a gig tonight. Tommy still looked good but is apparently incapable of completing a sentence without the word “Fuck.” Tommy Lee makes Ozzy sound like Mr. Rodgers and then there’s Vince Neil.
Vince hit the stage with a giant white coat, or something wrapped around his now quite girthy frame. He looked vaguely like Big Momma Cass. Long camera shots are these guys friends now. Long long long camera shots. Most of the night they never showed Mick Mars face, just his hands and split-second shots of his whole body.
The music was still okay considering I was not that into Crue. Again, this was my wife Michelle’s dream act. I was always just the co-pilot. I knew 90% of the songs they threw out there (as it was a greatest hit package being presented). The Crue were also joined on stage by three woman who bassist Nikki Sixx referred to as the “Bad Intentions Trio” . If they were not strippers, they did a fantastic job playing them.
On many of the Crue numbers, the video screens just had these women dancing on poles and quick jump cuts of the band themselves. Given the Crues appearance, not a horrible call. Johnny had to be restrained by security during “Girls Girls Girls.” They don’t want to dance with you little dude!
Otherwise, despite fervent attempts by Tommy Lee to get woman to flash their chests, only a couple obliged. Unlike the 80’s, now, one flash and your “goods” are on U-tube about 7 minutes later, so caution is more the rule here.
Grading Motley Crue is a mixed bag. They are icons and they played a greatest hits set to almost 50,000 people. I cannot discount that. It may not have been the be-all for me, but Michelle (my former wife who lost her battle with cancer before she could see this show), would have loved them and danced and sang through every number. So, I’m going to assume SHE would have given them 100 and since I would only go 80, I’m officially setting 90/100 as my number.
Michelle, I wish you could have been there.