There are bands you like for a song or two, bands you follow for an album or three and bands that you form a love affair with that spans decades.
Motley Crue is a love affair band.
Formed in 1981, the band released nine studio albums and sold more than 80 million records worldwide before announcing last year that its members – Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee and Mick Mars – planned to retire.
Sunday night, their farewell lap, The Final Tour, rolled into Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater complete with all the pyrotechnics, scantily clad go-go dancers, extended guitar solos and insane stage rigging that longtime fans have come to expect.
Three songs into the two-hour show, lead singer Neil took a breath to tell the crowd that they belonged to a rock and roll family that began with “four drunken teenagers roaming the streets of Los Angeles” who had, inexplicably, survived, against all odds.
“Tonight we’re going to celebrate 33 years of (expletive) Motley Crue music,” Neil shouted to a thunderous roar of approval.
The celebration showcased songs from their 1981 debut, “Too Fast for Love” (“Live Wire,” “On With the Show”), their 1983 breakout, “Shout at the Devil” (“Shout at the Devil,” “Too Young to Fall in Love”), and a slew of hits off their impressive three-album run from 1985 to 1989, “Theatre of Pain,” “Girls Girls Girls” and “Dr. Feelgood.”
Thousands of fans showed up to say goodbye, many wearing vintage shirts from tours past. Ron Borresen, 43, of Sarasota, had on a T-shirt from the 1983-84 tour. He said he had seen the band play live more than 20 times.
By his side was his 10 year-old son, Erik, about to experience his first and last Crue concert.
“It’s just a good moment, I think, we can share together,” Ron Borresen said. “Always look back and say we did this together.”
Erik Borresen remembered the first time his father played their music for him: “He said, ‘This is Motley Crue.’ I just fell in love with them.”
The boy began learning drums to emulate his favorite band member, Lee, the brash, tattooed drummer once married to actress Pamela Anderson. “I’ve seen him do crazy things on YouTube,” Erik Borresen said. “That inspired me.”
Lee didn’t disappoint during his showcase drum solo, banging on the skins as his drum kit was lifted several stories out and above the crowd, before inverting and rolling through a full 360-degree rotation.
Along for The Final Tour was Alice Cooper, one of music’s original shock rockers, a master of schlock, kitsch and dozens of indelible hits. At 66 years old, Cooper’s energy and enthusiasm was not only admirable, but contagious, as he delivered stellar renditions of “I’m Eighteen,” “Billion Dollar Babies” and “Welcome to My Nightmare.”
At the midpoint of Motley Crue’s set list, bassist Sixx took time to reflect, sharing the story of how all four band members met in a profane, often very funny, nearly 10-minute narrative.
“We’re grateful for you. We’re grateful to be alive,” Sixx said, swaggering across the stage, “and I promise you — our music is going to haunt you until the day you (expletive) die!”