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Mötley Crüe's third 'final' Twin Cities gig brings flames, tears

The deathless Mötley Crüe in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 2009

The deathless Mötley Crüe in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 2009

It was hard not to be skeptical when Mötley Crüe announced their All Bad Things Must Come to an End final tour back in the summer of 2014.

The all-too-common sleight of hand “farewell tour” announcement certainly helped fill the Xcel Energy Center when the band’s first leg made its initial stop back in November last year. In fact, as luck would have it for Mötley fans, the group felt they were going to miss the Twin Cities so much they scheduled another Saint Paul date this past August, resulting in a repeat sell-out show, again with opener Alice Cooper. Tuesday at Target Center had to be the last time we’d ever see Mötley Crüe — right!?

Forget about it, we are a lucky bunch! Somehow the band, assuming they’d not worn out their stay, managed a third goodbye show last night and their fans were all the more grateful. This time across the river in Minneapolis, the Crüe cemented their relationship with the Twin Cities audience who, as it turns out, are perhaps one of the band’s most hardcore followings in the country, nearly filling up the arena.

Guess what? Veteran shock-rocker Alice Cooper was back as well to open the show after just performing on his own Sunday at the State Theatre. God do we love Alice here!

An abbreviated “Black Widow” introduced Alice and his five-piece band, all of whom looked giddy from energy drinks, taking on every rock star pose imaginable with a thickly heavy guitar sound.

Cooper, who turned 67 this year, wasted no time with his three guitar players attacking each classic anthem. Leading the audience through “No More Mr.Nice Guy," “Under My Wheels,” and “I’m Eighteen," Cooper effortlessly played his character with an arsenal of props and expected schtick.

Mötley Crüe said goodbye — or <i>DID</i> they? — Tuesday at Target Center

Mötley Crüe said goodbye — or DID they? — Tuesday at Target Center

Drummer Glen Sobel, who’s filled in for injured Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee for some of the tour’s dates, enjoyed a solo, allowing for a costume change as Alice returned in a straightjacket for “Go to Hell."

Out came the props for “Feed My Frankenstein” and a bit of family fun as Alice was coerced by “Nurse Sheryl,” played by daughter Calico, into the electrocution chamber. Explosions and smoke gave way to an enormous giant Alice that finished the song. Not to be outdone, some henchmen brought out the guillotine for the traditional beheading.

Eventually Alice reappeared — head intact — wearing a tophat. He rounded out the show with enormous balloons and bubbles for “School’s Out,” which the band seamlessly mashed up with “Another Brick in the Wall,” for a satisfying singalong to end his set.

Knowing the band’s final gig ever is slated for New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles, there was a palatable eagerness for Mötley Crüe to hit the stage.

Introduced with a pounding heartbeat and revved-up motorcycle sounds, the bad boys of rock 'n' roll (accompanied by two scantily clad backup singers) came out full throttle with “Girls, Girls, Girls," the first of so many singalongs for their two-hour set. Fireworks and flamethrowers lit up the elaborate stage, which featuring enough pyro throughout the night that it’d put KISS to shame.

Lead singer Vince Neil did his best with vocals on “Wild Side,” often dropping in and out of a phrase, but the audience always had his back with each verse and chorus. Bassist Nikki Sixx strutted about, greeting the rapturous audience from each end of the stage, and Eighth Wonder of the World, Mick Mars, brought shredding to supernatural levels during “Primal Scream." Pretending he’s playing guitar, Vince lead the audience through “Same Old Situation (S.O.S.)” and “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)." 

The energy and spirit in the room was pretty infectious with each hit Mötley Crüe pulled out from their three-decade career as big smiles, devil horns, and head banging kept the audience moving. Vamping on Gary Glitter’s “Rock N’ Roll Part 2” cleverly lead into Brownsville Station’s “Smokin’ in the Boys Room."

Perhaps not the best part of the evening, because Mötley Crüe hadn’t called everyone “motherfuckers” quite enough, they backed it up with 2008 dud “Motherfucker of the Year” and went for broke on their unfortunate cover of “Anarchy in the U.K.”.

Allowing for everyone to catch their breath, “Shout at the Devil” ignited the room with more flames, including the ones ffrom Nikki Sixx’s patented bass/blowtorch that lit up his hanging mic stand into a pentagram. If this wouldn’t convert the entire audience into Satanists, I don’t know what would!

While still impressive, Tommy Lee’s rollercoaster ride, upside down, spinning drum kit may have not packed the wallop the third time around. What ultimately proved most surprising is Mick Mars subversive, maniacal style. As displayed by his dense solo, surrounded by fog, it’s always a minor miracle the man doesn’t evaporate into dust; he has truly been the secret ingredient to Mötley Crüe all these years.

Breezing through a high energy “Live Wire” and an incredibly groovy “Dr. Feelgood," Mötley Crüe left no canister of rocket fuel untapped for the finale. Vince and Nikki, elevated above the crowd in a pair of cherry pickers, floated out mid-arena during a ripping “Kickstart My Heart." Not only was the entire arena fist-pumping and shouting along, but also bracing themselves from the heat on stage and covering their ears from countless explosions through the hyper-charged song.

As has also been tradition on this tour, the band managed to come out to a satellite stage (for the last time?) for their encore. Phone lights lit up Target Center as Tommy played the first chords of “Home Sweet Home." Misty eyed, the audience sang dramatically each word with the band for a cheerful and heartfelt end.

Critic’s bias: Honestly don’t care if they dupe their audience into another year of shows — I freaking love seeing Mötley Crüe!

The crowd: Not a sell out, but probably about 10,000 passionate fans.

Overheard in the crowd: DJ Barb Abney reciting “In the Beginning ...” to her daughter word for word. Awkward!

Random notebook dump: Man, there’s an impressive amount of bootleg T-shirts for sale outside the venue tonight.

Set lists:

Alice Cooper

“The Black Widow”

“No More Mr. Nice Guy”

“Under My Wheels”

“I’m Eighteen”

“Billion Dollar Babies”

“Poison”

“Dirty Diamonds”

“Go to Hell”

“Feed My Frankenstein”

“Ballad of Dwight Fry”

“Killer”

“I Love the Dead”

“School’s Out”

Mötley Crüe

“Girls, Girls, Girls,”

“Wild Side”

“Primal Scream”

“Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S.)”

“Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)”

“Smokin’ in the Boys Room”

“Looks that Kill”

“Motherfucker of the Year”

“Anarchy in the U.K.”

“Shout at the Devil”

“Louder than Hell”

“Saints of Los Angeles”

“Live Wire”

“Dr. Feelgood”

“Kickstart My Heart”

Encore:

“Home Sweet Home”