Vince Neil came to the Jaxx stage on Saturday night without a set list. "What do you want to hear?" the former Motley Crue frontman and fallen hair-band god asked the fans. "Tell us and we'll play it."
Neil's experiment in heavy-metal democracy got off to a rough start. "We don't wanna play that one now. We'll play some crap first," he yelled when a guy up front shouted again and again for "Girls, Girls, Girls," the Crue's party anthem from 1987.
But in the end, Neil's polling plan gave the majority of the crowd just what it came for: 13 of the Crue's most beloved hits, and nothing Neil recorded as a solo act after he was jettisoned from the band in 1992. The Crue broke out of the L.A. Strip scene in the early 1980s, and over the next decade could boast more than 40 million records sold and more per-capita dysfunction than perhaps any musical combo ever. The Crue's episode of VH1's "Behind the Music" set a shoot-up-and-tell standard that may never be surpassed.
Neil now looks worse for the wear of his days on top, but on this night he threw his considerable weight and what's left of his blond locks into the rage-filled golden oldies ("Live Wire," "Knock 'Em Dead, Kid") and smile-inducing anthems ("Dr. Feelgood," a cover of Brownsville Station's "Smokin' in the Boys' Room," "Kickstart My Heart") that took the Crue from small clubs to the top of stadium marquees.
At night's end, Neil got around to "Girls, Girls, Girls." He was joined onstage by a dozen or so female fans, sporting costumes and hairdos that went out of fashion around the time Neil did, and they danced around the singer. It wasn't just like old times, but everybody in the club, even Neil, appeared to be having fun.
-- Dave McKenna