Drummer Tommy Lee promises the full Mötley Crüe experience in Abu Dhabi
Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee assures UAE fans that he’s back in good health.
The 53-year-old iconic sticks-man will be back behind the drum kit and onstage with his bandmates on Friday, November 20, for the Abu Dhabi leg of the veteran rockers’ farewell tour.
The news comes after a wrist injury forced Lee to sit out a number of American gigs last month. Alice Cooper’s Glen Sobel deputised for Lee during this period, although the drummer did appear onstage to play piano with his good hand for the traditional set closer, Home Sweet Home.
“I’m back to 100 per cent,” says Lee.
“I bruised a bone in my wrist, but after a serious double dose of cortisone that helped with the inflammation, and with the help of this little wrist machine to exercise it, I’m back to normal.”
Lee says such physical setbacks are just part of rock ’n’ roll.
“I’m always getting injuries like bruised and bloody knuckles from catching a cymbal or the edge of a drum,” he says. “Drumming’s pretty physical. We sit at the back of the stage getting beat up like a workhorse.
“Anytime you do something repetitive over a sustained period – and this tour’s already been a year and a half – your body just says ‘I’m hurt. I can’t do this.’ But I’m all good now. They got me back into shape and I’ll be slugging the drums like a maniac in Abu Dhabi.”
While Friday’s du Arena gig is Mötley Crüe’s first – and probably their last – Abu Dhabi visit, Lee is no stranger to the UAE.
“I DJ’d at Gulf Bike Week a couple of years ago and that was pretty cool, but Mötley’s never been,” he says.
“The guys are gonna freak out, it’s so cool there. I’m really looking forward to it. When I DJ’d there I was treated like a king. They’re such nice people and I’m sure we’re gonna have a blast. I’m actually gonna stay after the show and take my fiancée, who’s one of our backing singers and dancers, to Dubai for a few days.”
Mötley Crüe’s live shows have a reputation for excess, with enough pyrotechnics, elaborate sets and backing performers to put a Hollywood blockbuster to shame. Lee assures us that while in the past the live shows have courted controversy with the likes of feminist groups and dwarf-support organisations, they’ll be pulling no punches for the Abu Dhabi leg.
“Fans will get the full-on Mötley Crüe experience, it’s really quite the spectacle,” he says. “I’m really looking forward to meeting our fans out there and seeing their faces. It’s crazy to think that we even have fans out there and I’m really grateful to all the people that are coming to the show, I can’t wait to rock them and have a great time. I’m really, really looking forward to it.”
The Abu Dhabi gig also marks a sad milestone for the group – it will be the Crüe’s last gig outside of the United States. Lee has mixed emotions about the end of the band’s 35-year run of rock ’n’ roll hellraising.
“It’s weird. I don’t think about it much during the show,” he says. “But towards the end, when things slow down and I’m sitting on the piano, that’s the first time I get to look around and think, whoa – this is the last time I’m playing to these people, and then it hits you. You look out in the audience and see some people happy and some people sad, and then it hits you, it’s really quite a moment but I don’t think it’s really going to sink in until that final show in LA on New Year’s Eve and there’s no show the following day.”
Lee says he will have no regrets when the band part ways.
“We’ve got 35 years of good times and memories behind us. Everything we set out to do, we’ve accomplished – and we’re going out with our heads up high, with a bang, at the top of our game, not slowly fading out,” he says.
“We decided this about six years ago, on tour in Japan. We’d seen too many of our peers just kind of fade out and end up playing the county fair and we’re not doing that.”
While Mötley Crüe are calling it a day at the end of this tour, Lee assures fans they haven’t heard the last of him, although he can’t reveal his next step, yet.
“I’m gonna continue after this and I have some big plans, but with Mötley I really think we’ve done everything we set out to do and at this point it would just be redundant to keep going around doing the same thing,” he says.
“We came, we saw, we kicked its ass and now we’re getting out.”
Crucial Crüe songs
Five songs you need to know before the gig at Yas Island’s du Arena.
Home Sweet Home (Theatre of Pain, 1985)
The Crüe’s traditional set closer is a sweet, piano-driven ballad that few people would associate with the self-proclaimed bad boys of rock and roll. Drummer Tommy Lee traditionally plays the piano part at live gigs (and on the album version). The song wasn’t a huge hit on its original release, peaking at No 89 on the US Billboard chart, although a 1991 re-release reached No 37 – the last Mötley Crüe tune to enter the Billboard top 40.
Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room (Theatre of Pain, 1985)
The Crüe’s cover of Brownsville Station’s 1973 hit was their first entry into the Billboard top 40, reaching No 16 and also appearing on the soundtrack for 1986 movie The Wraith. As the title implies, the song tells the story of a teenager trying not to get caught while smoking at school, and was accompanied by a memorable video featuring The Hills Have Eyes star Michael John Berryman as the school principal.
Girls, Girls, Girls (Girls, Girls, Girls, 1987)
The title track from the band’s fourth studio album brought the Crüe their second Billboard top 20 hit, peaking at No 12. The track is an homage to the seedy Los Angeles club scene, and the video for the single was shot in Sunset Strip’s notorious Seventh Veil club. The song may start with the somewhat ominous line “Friday night and I need a fight, my motorcycle and a switchblade knife”, but we spoke to co-writer and drummer Tommy Lee, and he seems like a lovely chap in real life.
Dr Feelgood (Dr Feelgood, 1989)
The lead single from the band’s fifth studio album, and their biggest hit, charted at No 6 in the United States. It was recorded during concerted rehabilitation efforts by band members following the excesses of the Girls, Girls, Girls period. To this pedantic critic, Bob Rock’s epic production, while undoubtedly a tour de force, loses some of the raw energy of the Crüe’s earlier releases. November 1989’s Gold certification for selling more than 500,000 copies in the US, as well as its ranking as the 15th greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1, suggests I may be in a minority.
Anarchy in the UK (Decade of Decadence, 1991)
The Crüe’s cover of The Sex Pistols’ 1976 punk-rock classic is always a highlight of the band’s live shows, and also featured on their 1991 compilation album Decade of Decadence. The Crüe give the song’s lyrics a US-centric facelift, hence the MPLA, IRA, UDA and UK of the Pistols’ original become the PMRC, DEA, CIA and USA. The Pistols may hold the title of original bad boys of punk rock, but if you’re sensitive to bad language, close your ears during this part of the set, as the Crüe’s take features more profanity, making the British original seem comparatively polite.
• Motley Crue perform on Friday, November 20, at du Arena. Tickets, from Dh295, from www.ticketmaster.ae
Updated: November 17, 2015 04:00 AM