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MOTLEY CRUE Can the Crue live up to its rep?



Published: Mon, February 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Metal mayham will ensue once the boys take the stage.

CLEVELAND -- Kick-starting their heart for another go around on the "Wild Side," original Motley Crue hooligans Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee and Mick Mars have reunited for the "Better Live Than Dead" tour, which comes through Northeast Ohio Tuesday at Gund Arena.

While perhaps the mother of all hard rock reunions would see David Lee Roth fronting Van Halen again, the reconvening of this metal outfit is unique in the sense that the Sunset Strip act still boasts its original lineup, which is a feat no other contemporary '80s band of Motley Crue's success -- more than 40 million albums sold -- can boast.

"The reunion idea really started in England, of all places, where a promoter there was asking what were the bands that people wanted to see, and Motley Crue kept coming up," said Neil calling from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. "So, we talked, it felt good and we decided to go ahead and do it."

Granted, the group was only apart six years -- Lee left Crue in 1999 to form nu-metal outfit Methods of Mayhem -- but its legendary debauchery, which set a VH1 "Behind the Music" standard rarely eclipsed, remains alluring to diehard followers and even casual fans. Case in point is the fact the band, which arguably hasn't had a hit album since 1989 ("Dr. Feelgood"), has already sold out a few dates with the Cleveland show enjoying healthy ticket sales.

Bigger than life

Perhaps part of the draw for the "Better Live Than Dead" show, which features an intermission and runs more than three hours, stems from the group's decision to dedicate much of its first set to material from its first two studio albums -- 1981's "Too Fast for Love" and 1983's "Shout at the Devil."

While the latter disc's title track received MTV airplay, and thus ignited the band's mainstream success, it's the former album that is often cited as being a timeless rock release, replete with a raw feel that captures the id and energy of youthful rebellion.

"It's so raw and very punky," Neil said. "And they are very fun songs. I think it's really cool for older fans to hear some of these songs -- 'On With the Show' and 'Too Fast for Love.' People are going to freak out."

One constant throughout the quarter-of-a-century career of Motley Crue has been its band members' penchant for newsworthy drama and legal problems. From Neil's 1983 car accident, which killed Hanoi Rocks' singer Nicholas Dingley, to Lee's relationship with blonde bombshell Pamela Anderson (sex tape, rocky marriage and spousal abuse charges), the band is anything but private. Oh, and there's also Neil's dismissal from the group in the early 1990s, his own sex tape currently in circulation, Sixx's heroin habit and a recently announced $10 million palimony lawsuit against Mars. What remains to be seen is whether such offstage shenanigans have tarnished the band's image.

"Obviously not because people are definitely wanting to come and see the concerts and see us," Neil said. "We basically live it so I don't know what other people's perceptions would be, but it is what it is."

Regrouping?

As for the future of Motley Crue, nothing is for certain. The acrimony between Neil and Lee, which resulted in the drummer leaving the band in 1999, remainsl But the almighty dollar is a salve with a history of healing many a strained relationship. And what about a new studio album?

"For one thing, when this came together, there was no plan on making another record," Neil said. "We were all about doing the tour, not about selling records. There are no plans right now into doing another Motley album. If this tour ends and everybody decides they want to go in and make a new record, then we'll go in. And if not, it was a fun tour."

Considering heavy metal archetype band Black Sabbath has yet to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Motley Crue's chances -- the group becomes eligible in 2006 -- appear slim.

"It would be very cool but who knows," Neil said. "We'll probably be dead before we get inducted."




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