A wall of speakers loud enough to leave ears ringing for hours. Grown men screaming until their voices were gone. Hand horns by the hundreds. Pyrotechnics hot enough to be felt in the back of the house.
Intrust Bank Arena had a rock show on Saturday night, and Wichita might not have rocked so hard since the days of the Kansas Coliseum.
Motley Crue, the famous hard-rock band with 33 years of music on its resume, returned to Wichita on Saturday for what the band insists is the last time, and it drew an enthusiastic crowd of 8,000. The tour, which includes all the original members – singer Vince Neil, drummer Tommy Lee, bassist Nikki Sixx and guitarist Mick Mars – is the group’s final one.
“Close your eyes and pretend it’s 1981,” Neil said early in the show, and that was the only newspaper-quotable thing he said the rest of the night. Neil has not lost his voice – nor his preference for four-letter words.
The band offered a long list of its 1980s hits, but it opened with 2008’s “Saints of Los Angeles.” The lights came up and the band was onstage, Neil wearing a floor-length black cape with gold detailing, a costume that looked a little silly on the 2014 version of Neil, but he lost it after the opening number.
Lee, meanwhile, was on an elevated platform, backlit so the audience could fully appreciate the frenetic energy he still possesses. The crew did not, however, set up Lee’s drum coaster, which at some stops on the tour delivers him on a wild ride through the arena with his drum set. Though Intrust Bank Arena’s ceiling is capable of handling the rig, the crew decided not to use it on the stop, arena officials said.
Mars gamely ripped though guitar riffs, though the effects of his spinal disease were noticeable as he moved little and kept his head down.
Sixx, the band’s founder and leader, shot fire out of his bass guitar during “Shout at the Devil.”
Early in the show, Sixx took the microphone to offer a verbal history of the band.
He talked about playing on Santa Monica Boulevard in the early 1980s and wanting to start his own band. He was at a club one night and saw a drummer who caught his attention.
“I said, ‘I gotta go backstage and meet this guy,’ ” he said, referring to Lee. “I’m sorry to embarrass you, Tommy, but the guy was wearing girls’ spandex leopard pants.”
The duo found Mars through the classifieds and lured Neil, an acquaintance of Lee’s, from another band.
The group’s extra-loud setlist included favorites such as “Wildside,” “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room,” “Dr. Feelgood” and “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and the group did bring girls – two scantily clad background singers/dancers who took the stage during several songs.
The band finished the night with an encore of its 1985 hit “Home Sweet Home,” performed on a remote stage at the back of the arena.
Just as entertaining as Motley Crue, though, was opening act Alice Cooper.
The 66-year-old singer put on an hourlong set of rock-theater that included multiple costume changes, a giant dancing Frankenstein and a guillotine used to “behead” the singer onstage. (He returned, head attached, for the next song.)
He took the stage in a black-and-red-striped tuxedo with tails, black makeup circling his eyes, and delivered “I’m Eighteen,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “Welcome to My Nightmare” and “Feed My Frankenstein.”
He wore a boa constrictor, a straitjacket and a bloody medical coat. The stage was decorated with scary clown faces and a stroller full of baby dolls without their bodies. The set was frightening, fascinating and funny all at once.
Cooper, who finished his set by filling the stage with bubbles and performing “School’s Out,” had an impressive band with three guitarists, including female guitarist Nita Strauss, who just joined Cooper’s band and is hard not to watch.