Motley Crue / Columbia, SC / 02-12-2006

What a difference a year makes. The last time I saw Motley Crue was a couple of dates into their reunion tour. The band was rusty, really rusty. They didn’t play together, and in one case, a song broke down and had to be restarted. Also, their well documented hatred for one another was evident from the beginning. That wasn’t the case Sunday night at Columbia’s Colonial Center. The Crue was on fire. The setlist was almost identical to last year’s show, but this time the band didn’t let up.

Starting with “Shout at the Devil,” the band tore through “2 Fast For Love” and “10 Seconds to Love” before the night’s most memorable incident occurred. Right at the beginning of “Red Hot,” singer Vince Neil was pegged square in the face with a cup of beer. He threw his microphone into the crowd and stormed off stage. The band continued to play until bassist Nikki Sixx stopped them and walked off as well. He came back out and explained how “one asshole ruined it for everyone” before disappearing again. The band finally returned 15 minutes later and it was on with the show.

Following the cup incident, the band thoroughly rocked the crowd. Sixx blew himself up as an intro to “Dr. Feelgood” and drummer Tommy Lee flew up to the rafters in the middle of the arena for his own techno version of Stomp. His solo was much better this time as he ran through the crowd to get to the center of the arena. Having the solo above the stage last year enabled far less audience participation.

“Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Live Wire,” “Wildside” and a rousing version of “Home Sweet Home” were all present. During the latter, the arena erupted into a sea of lighters that brought back the distant memory of times before cell phones replaced lighters. Even Lee held his lighter up after playing the signature piano opening.

What really made this show special was it seemed like the band was enjoying itself. Sixx and Neil were sharing microphones and really playing it up. Lee and Neil were joking around with each other and smiling all night. In fact, it was Lee that introduced Neil to the crowd. They kept exclaiming how much they loved playing in Columbia and how they’d be returning next year. It actually seemed genuine. Guitarist Mick Mars stayed in the shadows most of the night looking like Death, but he never messed up. He was rock steady all night.

For the encore, the Crue rocked through a cover of the Sex Pistol’s classic “Anarchy in the UK” with the entire Carnival of Sins on stage. There was fire breathing, pyro, bondage, midgets, blood spitting and enough bare flesh to make me think I was lost in a strip club Sixx even one upped KISS’ Gene Simmons by keeping the blood in his mouth for the entire song before spitting it onto the blood thirsty crowd.

It’s refreshing to see the band playing so well and to be getting along. Last year, I didn’t think the tour would last a month. It’s good to see it going better than ever a year later. If you’re looking for a good time, go check out Motley Crue if they’re in your town. The band is pushing their decadence into a whole new decade.