Mötley Crüe are old hands at this, but reinvigorated by The Dirt film and the savvy addition of John 5 to the line-up, they are a band reborn. For those lucky enough to witness their tiny club gig the night before, Wembley was another demonstration that one of the most notorious bands in rock had lost none of their edge, their ferocity not blunted by playing a stadium.
Wembley Stadium – 1 July 2023
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Photography: Robert Sutton
The Underworld show may have been a celebration of music at its most primal, but today was all about reaching every single person, from the front row to the nosebleeds at the very rear and height of Wembley.
The band have always attracted a level of cynicism from some quarters, claiming that Crüe are more about the bad boy image than the music but given that the set is full of genuine high-octane thrills and solid gold rockers, that viewpoint is made redundant.
No one quite manages to mix sleazy grit and glam to such heights as this outfit, their long career built on some of the most memorable music to ever come out of the grimy streets of L.A., mirroring the contrast between Hollywood’s glittering image and its dark underbelly.
With the huge neon-spattered screens that surrounded the stage and constantly changing video images, this was going to be a retina-scorching and eardrum-shattering trip into their twisted world.
The suitably frenetic Wild Side kicked off their portion of the night, adrenaline already flowing and the terrace chant and raised fists for Shout At The Devil perfectly suited the terraced surrounds of the stadium. Vince Neil is in fine voice, his distinctive yelp exactly what the music demands as Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee bring their thunderous chops.
A cool John 5 peels out the riffs with deceptive ease, his fretwork full of its own distinctive bite. With a cheeky little snatch of Seven Nation Army, they barrel into Live Wire, and the titular The Dirt shows there’s plenty of life left in these dogs yet.
After a medley of party covers, anthemic ballad Home Sweet Home and a feral Dr Feelgood show Crüe can do light and shade, seemingly having as good a time on stage as those there to witness the spectacle.
Two giant inflatable women unfurl on the stage, rising to tower over the band as they break into Girls Girls Girls and with the raw Primal Scream and motorbike riffing of Kickstart My Heart bringing the set to a close, this was the second triumphant return to the capital for the band in twenty-four hours.
Small clubs or huge stadiums, Mötley Crüe still remain one of the greatest shows on earth, their dangerous persona still threatening to topple them from the tightrope they walk. But their sense of purpose is stronger than ever.