Warning: Gushing Crue concert review follows! All non-Crue crew members proceed at your own risk! That’s right dudes and dudettes, I’m a monster Crue fan, and as an editor and music journalist I get to say so in print. And yes, I believe Motley Crue are one of the greatest bands ever to wreck havoc on the musical universe. Have doubts? Then name me another group that’s been around for more than two decades of decadence, maintains a rabid fan base, and can still pitch a whang-dang-doodle for two hours onstage. U2? Please, they haven’t done anything decent since The Joshua Tree and Bono’s running for Pope. Aerosmith? Yawn, they lost their edge years ago. The Stones? Dinosaurs. Metallica? Not bad until James and Lars became too full themselves and Newsted wisely split. You get my drift So the Motley traveling freak show continued, stopping in Atlantic City for a pair of special small venue gigs at the Borgata. And me with three Crue concerts in six days Gee, you think I’m having fun yet? I had the choice between the Wednesday and Friday shows, so I went with the latter as I was still recovering from the previous Sunday’s gig at PNC and needed an extra day to get myself together. Good choice as word on the street was that the Wednesday crowd was tame (lame?) and the band didn’t dig the vibe — are you kidding; how can you buy a ticket and not get juiced for a Crue show!?. That meant my Friday eve Crue compatriots and I were obligated to make amends and blow the roof off the Borgata. Think we were up for it? Can I hear a “Hell yeah!” Fresh off the pre-show Meet and Greet (where Tommy and I briefly compared tattoo collections), I hustled my ass down to front row center and got jacked up for the evening’s festivities. The Crue had been destroying every venue they’d visited this tour, but playing SRO in a casino ballroom? Man, it couldn’t get any better. The only difference came by way of logistics: Smaller confines relegated the band to foregoing the aerialists and elevated drum platforms, (as well as the opening acts), yet we were still on the receiving end of 150 minutes of bone jarring rock and roll. It was a two-and-half hour set packed with power chords, sing-a-longs, bump-n-grind girls, pyrotechnics, Jagermeister, Mighty Mike and of course, our Motley heroes. Taking the stage to a thunderous ovation, the baddest of bad boys hit us with a full blown sonic assault. Within minutes of opening the set, the band felt the energy radiating back at them, sensing we weren’t tame or lame, but ready to tear that sucker down. We saw it in their eyes too, and knew that it was going to be a long night. Energized and sounding as good as ever, Vince worked the crowd, covering every part of the stage; Nikki and Tommy locked into their deafening rhythms and Mick dropped fret-board shrieks and howls. Sure they’ve had their differences over the years, but once the curtain goes up the Crue delivers. For the most part, the set list remained the same as with prior shows, comprised of classics and greatest hits from the extensive Motley catalogue, and I’ll be damned if the entire audience didn’t know the lyrics to every song: “Looks That Kill”, “Shout at the Devil”, “Girls, Girls, Girls”, “Kickstart My Heart”, “Red Hot.” Thank God for earplugs ’cause it was indeed louder than hell Any surprises you ask? Well let’s see Vince finding his acoustic out of tune (and Tommy prodding him with, “Fuck it, just smash it!”) then reducing it to splinters was quite a thing. And let’s not forget the infamous tittie cam. Taking a well earned break from bludgeoning his drum kit, America’s favorite college boy and cinematic provocateur pranced about the stage with delight, finding a willing contingent of female admirers, all flashing their wares for a moment of big-screen Motley stardom. Tommy’s exhortations generated such enthusiastic participation that Nikki admitted the Borgata girls were near the top of the list of all Crue crowds. As the faithful went wild, he amended his statement: The camera-ready Borgata girls were the best of any audience the Crue had played for! As I was in the middle of the fray, I will concur. So it’s obvious that the Crue fuckin’ rock just like they did 20 years ago. They still look great and sound great, and continue to make other bands look like amateurs. But the best thing about Motley Crue is that they love their fans, and we love them for giving us what we pay for: a solid set of favorites played loud and proud with no prima donna attitude or bullshit. Fine, but just how good was Friday’s show? Suffice it to say that with the exception of AC/DC appearing at NYC’s Roseland back in 2003, Friday with the Crue at the Borgata was the best small venue gig I have ever seen, and believe me Crue-bees, I’ve seen a lot. And what of the wacky Crue caravan for the remainder for the year? The stateside tour continues over the next two months, then the band closes out 2005 in Japan and Australia, leaving us exhausted from the experience but eager for more mayhem in 2006. Another tour? A new album? Who knows; who cares as long as the boys keep bringing it as hard as they always have.