All this lore, not to mention 10 albums of crotch rock, helped fill the Richmond Coliseum Saturday night with 5,430 excited fans (about 1,500 less than capacity). The crowd lined up outside more than 45 minutes before the band was due onstage. Perhaps they knew the beer line was going to be a mess. After another 45 minutes there, the tattooed, black-shirted, middle-aged bunch with tanned and teased ladies entered the arena. Many missed the introduction, complete with midget ringleader and kissing strippers.
Dubbed the "Carnival of Sins" tour, the demented circus theme was brilliant, with a dirty, retro red-and-white circus tent surrounding the stage. Girls alternately hung from chains and other apparatus, or groped the band.
The opening screamer "Shout at the Devil" from the band's 1983 album set the tone for the show, which featured a healthy dose of old tunes. This visit to Richmond came during the second year supporting their 2005 greatest-hits album "Red White and Crue." Cleverly, the band teased their biggest hit "Dr. Feelgood" throughout the two-hour show, playing its driving riff between songs.
The music was ear-ringing loud; lyrics virtually indistinguishable. Neil would have had to have some pipes to out-sing it, but at least he tried. And there was certainly enough theatrics going on to distract.
Some of their original glam look was still present. Gone is the huge hair and eyeliner, replaced by black leather and more KISS-like makeup. In the band's early Hollywood club days, Sixx would routinely light himself on fire; today fire shoots up from the stage in time with the music. Fireworks blast as Lee pounds on his kit. And smoke obscured the stage at times.
Halfway into the show, the curtain closed and the band took a 10-minute break. A countdown and "Team America"-looking caricatures of the band entertained the audience on large video screens.
When they returned, Lee and Sixx roared onstage in revving Harleys for "Girls, Girls, Girls." Snippets of porn and animals eating their prey flashed on the screens. Mid-way through the second set "Dr. Feelgood" featured dancers in white patent leather nurse outfits, after which Lee soloed to house music, jumped from the stage, ran up the side aisle with bodyguards, and was then hoisted above the crowd onto two suspended drum kits. After all that excitement, a killer drum solo was to be expected. The resulting tinkering was a disappointment, but the platforms didn't look stable enough for the drummer to dig in.
During his return someone grabbed the earphones from his head. When Lee was back on stage he said someone "almost ripped my earlobe off my head" and "No one gets hurt, we're just going to have a good time." At that point Lee likely decided to cut the set short because he never pulled out his notorious "TommyCam" in which he provokes women in the audience to flash his video camera. According to Coliseum officials, the band cut that bit plus several songs from their planned set.
In another adversarial moment, two audience members up front threw water bottles onstage hitting a roadie in garage jumpsuit and clown mask. For the rest of the show, a crowd of roadies aimed Super Soaker water guns directly at the fans, drenching them to the shorts. And several buckets of Kool-Aid were later heaved on the audience. Even though the 40-somethings in the band now play golf and hang out with their kids, they still managed to deliver a truly gritty blast from the hair-metal past.