Live Report: Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, Poison, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts at SoFi Stadium

“I love rock n’ roll”Joan Jett

“I want rock n’ roll. Long live rock n’ roll”Def Leppard

These were just some of the sentiments shared last Saturday night as four legends of hard rocking, Sunset Strip partying, and ball-busting music took over a packed SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. Originally meant to herald in the grand opening of the stadium two years ago before the pandemic, this mega tour finally arrived and brought with it massive amounts of devil horns, big hair, banging heads and raucous rock.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Opening the show was Joan Jett with her band the Blackhearts. I sadly missed the first few songs of the set due to traffic, so arrived just as Jett was going into The Runaways classic “You Drive Me Wild”. Jett’s deep, raspy vocals remain strong, and the band were perfectly in sync with their leader. Known as much for her covers as her own songs, Jett included a few of her famous takes on other artists’ songs in the set, including the Sly and the Family Stone hit “Everyday People”, and the Tommy James & The Shondells‘ “Crimson and Clover”. As part of promotion of her latest album Changeup, a collection of acoustic versions of her best known songs, Jett did “(I’m Gonna) Run Away” on acoustic guitar, before closing out her set with her biggest hits, “I Love Rock n’ Roll” (an Arrows cover she’s made more famous than the original) and the bodacious “Bad Reputation”.

Brett Michaels (Poison)

Of the four artists on the bill, the one whose catalog I was most familiar with prior to the show was Poison, so I was rocking a Poison t-shirt to represent. After seeing them, I felt satisfied with my shirt choice. The group busted out the hard rocker “Look What the Cat Dragged In” to open their set, before knocking out my favorite song of theirs, “Ride the Wind”. The huge, anthemic track sounded amazing in the stadium setting, where it was meant to be played. Frontman Brett Michaels was humble and grateful to the audience throughout the set, clearly happy to still be playing venues like SoFi this far into their career. The group went back to their first hit “Talk Dirty To Me”, and Michaels then brought out a harmonica for bluesy jam leading into the Loggins and Messina song “Your Mama Don’t Dance”.

CC Deville ranks up high with the best guitarists of their era, and showed off with a sick solo before their next singalong anthem, “Fallen Angel”. It was hits the rest of the set; some hip-shaking for “Unskinny Bop”, phone lights in the air for the eternal power ballad “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, and fists in the air for the party bop “Nothin’ But a Good Time”. A fitting way to end the set, since this show was nothing but a good time.

Def Leppard

Being the only band on the tour promoting new material (their solid new album Diamond Star Halos), Def Leppard expectedly inserted a few new songs into their set, but considering it was an 18 song extravaganza, fans never had to wait long to get another of the British band’s hits. They opened with the harder-edged “Take What You Want” from the new album, a nice warm up for them and the audience before getting into the classic material. The group separated themselves from their piers with their perfect power pop level of harmonizing on top of their riffage, and this was on display in songs like “Animal” and later on “Promises”.

New song “Kick” was written to be a stadium rocker, and it fit the bill, coming right after the aggressive “Armageddon It”. The band set-up at the end of the stage walkway for a two-song acoustic performance; first the new song “This Guitar”, and then the oldie “Two Steps Behind”. They quickly returned to power rock with “Rocket”, which had fists pumping the air in time. “Hysteria”, while not as big of a hit as some of their other songs, received an enthusiastic response, though nothing compared to “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, Def Leppard‘s most enduring single. Yes surprisingly this was not the closer – the band followed that singalong with “Rock of Ages”, and then conjured heaps of nostalgia with “Photograph”, including old photos of the band appearing on the monitors, mixed in with ones of DL fans from the stadium that day. It was a nice way to pay homage to their legacy.

Vince McNeil (Motley Crue)

The lasers and lights for Def Leppard‘s set had the flair one would expect from a stadium band, but they were nothing compared to the pomp and theater of Mötley Crüe. Before hitting the stage, a fake newsreel played on the monitors, warning of a dangerous uprising hitting the streets of the city, teasing the source of the chaos was the infamous sleaze rockers. The digital curtains rose, the lasers blasted out and fog filled the stage with mighty pageantry as Mötley Crüe enter the stage, flanked by beautiful dancers/back-up singers. The stage set-up was a sci-fi wasteland; the kind of place only the tough and ruthless could survive. The group wailed out “Wild Side”, signaling to the audience that now was the time to get wild themselves (note: they obliged). Frontman Vince McNeil’s caterwaul is not my favorite voice in rock, but it is truly the voice of the Sunset Strip music scene that gave rise to the band. It’s the only voice that could believably “Shout at the Devil”, as the band did next, and make you believe the devil would actually be listening.

The Crüe definitely had the fastest songs of the night, with “Too Fast For Love” blazing by on the riffs of Nikki Sixx and powered by the Tommy Lee/Mick Mars rhythm section. Along with being an evening about the power of rock, for Mötley Crüe, it was also an ode to playing in their hometown and a cementing of their status as Los Angeles legends. This made their 2008 hit “Saints of Los Angeles” all the more epic as they blasted it out. The song is a run through of the band’s history and ties to the city of angels. It’s a bit of nostalgia, but maybe not as much as “The Dirt (est 1981)”, the song inspired by the group’s memoir and subsequent Netflix film of the same name. The newest track of the band’s set, it even included a pre-recorded video cameo by track guest Machine Gun Kelly, who spit out his verses over the monitors.

Motley Crue

Sixx introduced the next section of the show as Mötley Crüe Karaoke, with the band playing some of the earliest covers they learned, such as “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” and “Anarchy in the UK”. The last one was a good reminder that even though a lot of punks looked down on hair metal, there was no denying the influence punk had on the hair metal bands. This was a fun diversion, and was followed by the troublemaker of the team, Tommy Lee, walking to the front of the stage and regaling the crowd with his recent controversy, posting photos of his famous pecker on Instagram. He then offered to show his weaner to the crowd. Since they all seemed onboard, Lee reached into his pants and pulled out…a dachshund. The confused pup conjured some chuckles, though perhaps stranger was when Lee then cajoled the crowd to pull out and show their dicks. It was clearly a joke, and while the monitors picked up a couple women baring their breasts, no men stepped forward with their junk out. No one in the audience really minded.

The return to music was welcome at this point, and Lee sat down on a piano as the rest of the band returned to the stage for a bombastic “Home Sweet Home”, greeted by a sea of phone lights. As the song ended, the band returned to high gear with the funky “Dr. Feelgood” and the pop-metal “Same Ol’ Situation” (an underrated single for the band). Appearing almost out of nowhere (or maybe entering the stage as I was distracted by the actual dancing girls), giant robotic women balloons appeared on stage just before the group broke out into “Girls Girls Girls”. I’m not sure if a modern band could sell a song like this in today’s climate, but for Mötley Crüe it remains one of their best and biggest hits. Though not as big as closer “Kickstart My Heart”, the raging, heart-pumping barnburner that can still go toe-to-toe with any modern group’s attempt at a “hard rock” song. While (IMO) not their best song, it is the essence of Mötley Crüe; hyper-fast licks, thundering drums, and loud, loud, LOUD riffs and vocals.

This was an evening of stadium rock in Los Angeles’ newest stadium. It’s not music for those looking for thoughtful contemplation or artsy compositions. It was simple, fun rock n’ roll and everyone who came looking for that should have left pleased. Find some of the most recent releases from the bands below, and see more pictures and videos in our instagram and TikTok (@TheIndyReview)!

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