10 highs and lows of Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard in Comerica Park

A reunited Mötley Crüe concluded a mini-marathon of rock and roll at Comerica Park on Sunday, ending seven hours with fist-pumping stadium anthems in front of a crowd of some 37,000 fans on a stage where earlier in the day fellow hard rockers Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

Here are some of the highs and lows from Sunday’s show.

High: value for money from the public

The Stadium Tour, as it’s been called uncreatively, packs quite a punch, with four potent ’80s rock outfits powering the nostalgic, devil’s horn-worthy extravaganza. Sunday’s show was all about the Crüe, back from the dead after signing a document purportingly banning them after 2015 (ha!), but the tour flip-flops between Def Leppard and the Crüe as closings. (Def Leppard is the one you’ll want to headline your show, more on that soon.) The tour was announced in 2019 and was set to head to Comerica Park in August 2020, arriving Sunday after a few COVID delays.

Low: The Crue

The extra time to get back into touring form didn’t benefit lead vocalist Vince Neil, who spent the entire 83-minute set screeching over his band’s oppressively loud and distorted sound mix. Shame Neil: The 61-year-old was barely engaged, could barely trot where he would ever run across the stage, and the vowels sounded in his lyrics, but you’d need subtitles to figure out what words he was actually uttering. singing (“Shout at the Devil” became something like “shou-adda-deva“). Ignore Neil’s vocals and his banter on arrival (“It’s been a long time, you’re back and we’re back. Yes!”) and the show was a pretty typical modern Crüe show, with a lot of emphasis on the huge video screens of the stage, paid to the group’s three revolving background dancers. The group’s 15-song set focused on the 80s hits, from “Live Wire” to “Home Sweet Home” to “Kickstart My Heart.” “even closer,” and drummer Tommy Lee gave a short speech to the audience that consisted mostly of profanity. They came back for this? It’s never good when a reunion tour makes you long for the good old days when a band retired.

High: Def Leppard

On the other side of Mötley Crüe was Def Leppard, who was just as loud as the Crüe, but played with purpose and intent. Their sound was robust, as if producer Mutt Lange was mixing them live from the soundboard, as drummer Rick Allen’s bass drum rattled the seats from the midfield all the way to the upper deck. Frontman Joe Elliott, who took the stage at Comerica Park with Billy Joel the night before, returned with a rendition of “Pour Some Sugar on Me” that had about 250% more adrenaline than the night before, as the band played a tight 90-minute set full of woah-oh-oh and yeah-ah-ah sing-along moments. That it came while the sun was still blazing was the only downside — “it’s not often we can do a gig and get a tan at the same time,” Elliott joked from the stage — but Def Leppard, who last appeared in Comerica Park played alongside Journey in 2018, playing as if out to prove they were the real headliner of the night. Mission accomplished. “See you next time,” Elliott told the audience at the end of the set, “and there’s another time!” It was a tantalizing promise to return, where since his retirement the inevitable return of the Crüe has always felt more like an imminent threat.

High: Bret Michaels

At 59, the Poison singer still has it. And “it” is charisma, a joy to perform and a radiant presence on stage, as well as the ability to rock a Poison shirt better than anyone in the stadium who also wore a Poison shirt. Michaels took the stage for the group’s 6:00 p.m. set as if being shot from a cannon, pointed at individual audience members, tapped his heart, and connected with the fans. It was old-school rock ‘n’ roll showmanship at its finest, and he put Detroit on over and over, thanking the Detroit audience for “breaking” songs it might not break (was Detroit radio responsible for the success of “Every Rose Has His Thorn?” Probably not, but Michaels certainly was convincing when he said it was) and said he’d rather be on that stage, in front of that audience, on that same day. What many people say and few can sell, but Michaels sold every word, every point to the crowd, and every clutch of his heart. Poison’s set consisted of only eight songs, but reached all the band’s highlights, and the band left the early crowd smiling and satisfied. That is an all-encompassing victory.

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