TVD Live: KISS and Mötley Crüe at Jiffy Lube Live, 7/20

On a dreary Friday, with a forecast full of thunderstorms, KISS and Mötley Crüe kicked off their U.S. summer tour at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, VA. Rockers old and young, with face paint and costumes, packed the amphitheater for an evening of rock and roll despite the impending harsh weather.

U.K. newcomers The Treatment opened the evening to an enthusiastic, if small, response—much of the crowd was still out in the concourses, mingling and spending small fortunes on band merchandise and refreshments.

Sometime shortly after 8pm, the lights went down, and Mötley Crüe’s intro music, an extended version of Ministry’s “Just One Fix,” blared from the speakers. Finally, Crüe hit the stage, a little behind schedule.

Opening with recent hit “Saints of Los Angeles” and charging through old classics like “Shout at the Devil,” “Wild Side,” and “Looks That Kill,” Mötley Crüe was musically tight-knit and energetic, as were the scantily-clad dancers and backup singers that joined them throughout the set. Bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee were their usual frenetic selves, but the highlight of their set was the guitar work of aging, but renewed, guitarist Mick Mars.

Having conquered his physical ailments, Mars moved around more than in previous tours and played with ease, with no traces of his prior pain to be found. (Mars has battled a rare form of arthritis and scoliosis for years.) In addition to the old classics, Crüe played the live debut of a new song, “Sex.” Mid-set, the band left the stage and Tommy Lee played a “drum solo” while his drum set moved inside of a massive, circular roller-coaster contraption. I use the term “drum solo” loosely, because it consisted of him playing a little drums while South African rappers Die Antwoord and dub step music blared from the PA.

Another painfully obvious down note of Mötley Crüe’s set was the vocals of singer Vince Neil. Vince’s physical form has seen better days, and when he wasn’t out of breath or skipping over words, his vocals, while on key, were an atrocious mishmash that fell somewhere between Bob Dylan and James Brown, and it led to a lot of Neil holding the mic out to the crowd for more crowd interaction. Mötley Crüe closed their set with fan favorites “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Kickstart My Heart,” leaving the diehard Crüe fans clamoring for more.

Up next were the timeless rock gods, KISS. Opening their set with their hit “Detroit Rock City,” the grandfathers of heavy metal (the band’s 40th anniversary is next year), put on the kind of show that KISS is famous for—blood, fire, explosions and rock and roll, not to mention a beautiful stage setup, with monstrous high definition screens as a backdrop.

They played classic favorites like “Firehouse,” “Shout It Out Loud,” and “Love Gun,” which saw frontman Paul Stanley ride a zipline to a small rotating stage in the center of the crowd to sing amidst the masses. The new single, “Hell or Hallelujah,” from their forthcoming album Monster, is a back-to-basics rock and roll song and was well-received by the frenzied crowd. Gene Simmons rendered his trademark bass solo, complete with spewing blood and flying to the rafters to sing the heavy “God of Thunder.”

While they may not be the iconic original members of KISS, guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer are outstanding musicians in their own right, each displaying a perfect combination of stage energy and technical prowess throughout the set. They both handled vocal duties with ease, with Singer singing the hit “Black Diamond,” Thayer singing the Ace Frehley classic “Shock Me,” and both of them adding a distinct layer of backing vocals during the set.

After “Black Diamond,” KISS exited the stage with the crowd chanting their name, clamoring for more. The band returned, and Stanley announced that the venue was going to pull the plug on them—it seems they had run into the 11pm curfew. (Remember Crüe going on a little late?)

This is sometimes a ploy to whip the crowd into a frenzy, but the band instantly went right into their trademark anthem. “Rock and Roll All Night,” showering the audience with copious amounts of confetti, the entire crowd singing along to the well-known chorus. KISS thanked the crowd and took their final bow, completing the first 1-song KISS encore that I can ever recall. (Note: this exact set was repeated the following night in Virginia Beach, so they either haven’t worked out the time issues, or the tour is planned for both bands doing a 13 song set.)

Between the iconic rock bands on the stage and the relief from the forecasted bad weather outside, the crowd left satisfied and happy, yet wanting more from their respective favorite of the night due to relatively short set times.

Photos by Dave Barnhouser, 13th Hour Photography

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