Having finished the Dr. Feelgood record the Motley boys were excited to play their first gig in a whole year & a half in Moscow for the ‘Make A Difference Foundation,’ an anti-drug festival apparently concocted by band manager Doc McGhee to bolster his rep in the wake of drug charges. Crue were sober during this period & so this concert at Lenin Stadium made sense to them & was a great opportunity to knock some of the rust off before their major world tour would begin in a couple months.
The drama behind the show began on the first day, August 12th, when the Crue learned they were being demoted in the set & then found out Bon Jovi was using pyro when it was agreed it was to be a stripped down & democratic affair for all the bands. Tommy punched McGhee & told him he was fired as the manager. The band was going to leave but then stuck around to play their set the next day.
This concert was aired on MTV. I had a bud with a satellite & so we hunkered down to watch the ‘Moscow Music Peace Festival.’
I’m having a difficult time finding out exactly what the sets were for both days & which videos available on YouTube are from the 12th & which are from the 13th. The first song I heard was ‘Shout At the Devil’ & I was underwhelmed: Vince sounded pretty bad. Luckily he got better as the show progressed. So here below are the weekend’s two versions of ‘Shout.’
This was the first time many of us got to see Tommy & Nikki’s full tattoo sleeves. ‘Sleeves’ have become the norm for Rockers & tattoo culture has absolutely blown up in the last 20 yrs. Everyone & their grandmother has a tattoo nowadays but back in 1989 Tommy & Nikki’s sleeves were almost shocking. Although they didn’t perform any new tunes Tommy has the Dr. logo on his bass drum, I remember trying to glimpse it every time the camera came near it.
Mick Mars is probably my favourite member of Motley, always was. I liked that he didn’t say much, looked & played gnarly & just basically performed his duties without needing much attention. There won’t be a whole lot of Mick stuff here at the SP Files, simply because there just isn’t much Mick stuff out there from the 1980s. Mick played a pretty rad guitar solo in Moscow, fast & sleazy like only Mr. Mars can do.
Moscow wasn’t just another concert for this Crue fan, it was the first time I ever saw live video & audio of my favourite band & so I watched my abridged MTV version A LOT & have come to enjoy it much more than I originally did. I’ve had to face the fact that they are just not, as a whole, a really strong live act. Crue sound like a garage band, very ragged & punky. But powerful as shit & with moments of excellence.
Here’s two vids of Crue performing covers, ‘Jailhouse Rock’ & ‘Smokin’ In the Boys Room.’ ‘Smokin’ is a rare performance of the song that really catapulted the band into pop stardom in the mid-eighties & features a very rare (& just passable) harmonica solo by Vince.
‘Jailhouse Rock’ is a song Crue performed almost from their beginning & is a great example of how little time Vince Neil took in his life to remember lyrics. He is mostly just singing phonetically here. God bless you Vinnie. Makes me think the ‘live’ version on the Girls record is actually not very live. Here are the festival’s two performances of this classic Elvis tune.
A friend owned the ‘Make A Difference’ cassette (‘Stairway To Heaven/Highway To Hell’) which had Crue’s studio cover of ‘Teaser’ & a live all-star jam recording with Vince & Sebastian Bach singing Zepplin’s ‘Rock n’ Roll'.’ I copied those tunes (before I could get ‘Teaser’ from the Decade Of Decadence release) & listened the shit out of them & have never seen the video of the all-star jam . . . and, voila!, there it is on YouTube. It’s a beautiful thing.
I even bought the festival T-shirt at a local music store simply because Motley’s name was listed on the back. I’ve since given it to Good-Will, damn, wish I had kept it!
I’ve embedded a lot of the Moscow performances in this post but there’s even more on YouTube if you want to take your time & find it all, including a great one of the band after one of the performances. Nikki is about to show the camera what his impression of the show is by pulling down his pants but the scene cuts before we learn too much. Here’s part II of the aforementioned series of Dr. Feelgood era vids which contains a bunch of Moscow stuff.
So Moscow certainly wasn’t Motley’s greatest moment but as with all things with this band, it was an interesting one. The Crue would go on without Doc McGhee but would have a massively-successful tour & album with co-manager Doug Thaler taking over responsibilities. It also gave the Crue more fodder for hating & separating themselves from the Bon Jovi camp, a band that Nikki would say wrote songs that appealed to housewives. He didn’t know how correct that statement was, especially nowadays.
We’ll leave you with a Faces article about the festival & more Motley Moscow video of the boys performing ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ with the backing of the Nasty Habits. Donna McDaniel & Emi Canyn would be a part of the Crue camp for the Girls to Dr. era & they certainly gave us teenaged boys lots to fantasize about (as if the lyrics weren’t enough!).
(click images to enlarge & READ)