Back in 2007 Motley Crue’s Download set was deemed by many as being the highlight of the festival, their ability to bring sleaze and tunes in equal proportion to their showmanship sparking what was deemed as a return to the band’s heyday. Today they return to Donington once again, playing the same slot they did two years ago with one slight difference; today Donington expects.
Bringing balloons, booze, sex and a dwarf to Download is no mean feat for any band and with Motley Crue’s set involving all and the above, you have to wonder if there’s any room for the actual music. Making an early appearance, ‘Shout At The Devil’ goes some way to liven the crowd, a chant inducing classic that has a few fists punching the air before ‘Saints Of Los Angeles’ offers a touch of smouldering balladry but its only the likes of ‘Girls Girls Girls’ and ‘Dr.Feelgood’ that manage to get things moving past the first few rows. Of course usual Motley antics ensue with Tommy Lee at one point left alone on stage to chat to the crowd and offer them all a shot of Jagermeister from a glass bottle that he begs people to go careful with. It’s all harmless fun that shows Lee to be an easy going guy and adheres him to all witnessing, and indeed sharing his drinking revelry but when frontman Vince Neil later takes to the stage to introduce the band, childish humour commands with Mick Mars’ introduction being performed by a dwarf kitted out in Motley gear. Sure it may gain some sniggers but in the end all it serves to do is rob the crowd of time they could spend listening to the band play live and drains the band of the swagger that makes their shows come alive.
With ‘Home Sweet Home’ bringing the set to an emotional end, complete with Tommy Lee playing the piano, Neil promises that his band will be back playing in 2010 to make up for all the Download’s they missed. Its a promise that pleases some and whilst the set on a the whole was not a disaster, it was no way near what the Download faithful have come to expect from LA’s glam rockers. Perhaps expectations were just too high, perhaps 2007 was an exceptional year, whatever the reason, fingers crossed Motley’s next appearance here will hold just a hint of the swagger fuelled confidence and spark they had 2 years ago.