Today’s class is going to start with a little history lesson (yeah yeah, the teacher vibe is getting old, eat me). The year is 1992, the band is Motley Crue, and the problem is Vince Neil. Legend has it that the band specifically did not wanna die out with the rest of the cock rock scene, and thus opted to try and blend with the rise of grunge and groove. Thus was the start of something phenomenal for a man named John Corabi (no I’m not going to go list the laundry list of bands he was in, go google it ya lazy bitches). By 1994, Corabi had written and recorded Motley Crue’s (sadly, rarely spoken of) self-titled record, which is debatably hardly a Crue record, yet probably their sickest release (musically) to date. Then 1997 hit, sales were dropping (cuz people suck), and the label demanded the return of Vince Neil, thus releasing the mighty Crab from the fray. Twenty one years later, that album had barely been performed live…until now! (You totally heard the movie guy’s voice in your head, don’t lie to me.) The year is 2015, the date is February 19th, the place is the mighty Ritz PDJ in the heart of Montreal’s Little Italy, and the reason for this long drawn out paragraph is that Crabby laced up his ass-kicking boots, strung up that gorgeous double guitar of his, and dragged his ass all the way up to the great white north to perform the record in its entirety. Get some.
Kicking off the night, the puns coming you just wait, is Local Nu Rock act Big Kick. These cats hit the stage with a real nice crunch. Big sound, real simple, and highly practiced…the only problem being that it was majorly lacking in originality. Not to call them unoriginal per se, but there was nothing particular about them that grabbed me by the short and curlies and said “YOU WILL OBEY.” Now of course the lot of you are going to continue reading this review thinking I only listen to metal, so what do I know about rock and roll? You’re wrong; I also listen to reggae and even Bryan Adams. Another particularly odd aspect to these cats would be their choice of vocal melodies; one minute you’re getting a big healthy dose of Sully Erna/David Drainman style rasp, and the very next second somehow we’re in 8 Mile. If you didn’t catch any of those references, or maybe if it intrigues you, go give them a listen.
The follow up was actually a cute little out of towner by the name of Crisis Ctrl Club hailing from our favorite city, Toronto, Ontario! HAPPY SMILES AND SHIT!!! See all that bubbliness? That’s what their entire set consisted of. I’m not complaining, I’d be completely lying if I said I didn’t enjoy at least one Fall Out Boy song in the history of mankind. I’d also be lying if I said that this was a bad set. Rocking the three-piece pop rock of Cheated Love vibe, these dudes definitely had it together. I don’t typically like this style of music, but I am not a reviewer with a bias; this act knew what they were going for, and got it right. Of course a set like this, drowning in synth and keyboard, is going to be greatly helped by some of the city’s best possible live sound setting. Seriously, the sound guy at the Ritz is a pimp, and that soundboard in front of him is his bitch.
Rounding up the opening love is a true sign that Cock Rock is alive in Montreal, and that sign is Sleazy Way Out. Now there’s a lot to be said about slinging around cock rock like its the 80s all over again (especially considering it’s really not the 80s), but these home boys have a serious conviction towards their craft. All the potential in the world is ahead of Sleazy, with a few minor tweaks of course. The vocal section could benefit from a little bit of an overhaul. Remember boys and girls, singing means staying in key and blending with your sound, even when it comes to gang vocals. When in doubt, blow it out, keep it deep and steep. Although these dudes are quite obviously a little seasoned in their own personal craft, it’s still a project that is really only beginning to pick up speed now, and aside from some minor tightening with some opening punches and maybe breaking a few more things on stage (ya know, to build character and what not), these dudes are definitely on the right path.
Last but certainly not least, after somehow being on the road for twenty-one hours in a psychotic blizzard from Nashville to Montreal, John Corabi and his band Crab walk on stage to rip our dicks off. This being the twenty-year anniversary tour of the 1994 self titled Motley Crue record (as I already mentioned, do try to keep up!), the set kicked off in good form, with the opening track “Power to the Music.” Now as you might imagine, I’m not the biggest of Motley fans, but this was such a phenomenal legend that the day of the show, I decided to immerse myself in that album. I was instantly a fan. Watching him step out onto that stage (with no prep time whatsoever I might add), more humble than ANY of the opening acts, and rip into that song like a condom wrapper, just made me weak at the knees. The album rolled on and on with hit after hit, every tune getting it’s own story. By the time “Smoke the Sky” had rolled around, I (a non smoker) had pretty well needed a cigarette from all that pummeling, which only got worse of course as “Smoke the Sky” is the heaviest tune to ever be referred to as a Motley song. This man quite obviously had more talent swimming around in his nutsack that Motley ever had as a band, which is quite easily proved as his own son is his touring drummer. (HA! fuck you Tommy Lee!) The last thing I want to touch on with the performance isn’t even about the performance itself. I was stage manager for this show (as is one of my many professions) and John “Crabby” Corabi, was without question, the most sociable, kindest, and most caring person I’ve ever had the pleasure of being a minion to, AND HE PLAYED FOR FUCKING MOTLEY CRUE. Thus my point here is: you never make it, you will never become a god in music, you will never be above anyone because “you’re just that good.” Never lose sight of who you are and who put you where you are, because without any doubt, the legendary Crab most definitely hasn’t. Now do yourself a favor and go listen to that fucking album.
Written by Jason Greenberg
Photography by Shannon Fong SLF Photography