You don’t go to a Motley Crue show looking for depth. There’s very little subtext to the Los Angeles quartet; when Vince Neil sings “Shout at the Devil,” the song is literally about shouting at the devil, and “Wild Life” is a list of decadent activities. With music that cribs from the songbooks of Kiss and Slade, Motley Crue can be seen as Cliffs Notes for something that was never all that complex to begin with.
Working from such a simple formula, Motley Crue can at least be expected to perform with some brio. But most of its perf at the Hollywood Palladium Friday night was flat and uninspired.
Yes, a shirtless Tommy Lee pounded on his drums vigorously; Nikki Sixx’s bass rumbled; guitarist Mick Mars played thick, pneumatic riffs; and Vince Neil brayed loudly, although he had some trouble remembering the lyrics. But there was little connection among them.
The band members have always highlighted their connection with strip clubs and porn, but their joyless performance turned them into burned-out porn stars — going through the motions, making what was supposed to be liberating fun look like a grind. Only “Girls Girls Girls,” “Dr. Feelgood” and “Same Ol’ Situation,” songs so well constructed it’s hard for any band to play them badly, displayed the swaggering energy of their prime.
They still try to play at rebellion, but all that’s left is winking misspellings and an almost constant stream of profanity (including “Mutherfucker of the Year,” one of two songs from their new Eleven Seven album “Saints of Los Angeles” included in the 90-minute set). At this point in its career, Motley Crue has gone from simple to simplistic.