The heavy metal band Motley Crue is on its farewell tour which is scheduled to end Nov. 22 in Spokane, Wash. Should the band’s retirement plans remain unchanged, fans will need to rely on tribute bands to hear Motley Crue music live.
For a Motley Crue tribute band such as Motley 2, who performed at Pala Casino’s Infinity nightclub July 12, the farewell tour of the band they emulate is unfamiliar territory.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever experienced this or anybody has. It’s kind of crazy,” said Tony Noyes, who emulates Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil. “Motley Crue’s talking about never playing again and that’s new for a Motley Crue tribute.”
The original Motley Crue members – Neil, bass guitarist Nikki Sixx, lead guitarist Mick Mars, and drummer Tommy Lee –
have been together for all but 10 years since 1981 with Neil and Lee each having five-year absences before returning to the band.
“I think it’s probably good for Motley Crue,” Noyes said of the band’s apparent retirement. “It’s a great rest for them and it’s great for tribute bands that want to keep the legacy going.”
Motley 2 has been performing for about four years and also includes Darryl Strucke as Sixx, Mark Hagen emulating Mars, and David Lee in the role of Tommy Lee. “All the guys are from L.A.,” Noyes said. “They were kind of venturing out of L.A.”
Two shows in Las Vegas united the other Motley 2 members with Noyes, who lives in the Phoenix area and has been with the band for about four months. “These guys called me out of the blue,” he said.
Strucke, Hagen, and David Lee have been with the band throughout, but Motley 2 has had several singers. Noyes was asked if he could represent Neil at the Las Vegas performances. “I said ‘I’ll do my best’,” Noyes said. “I’d never done a Motley Crue tribute in my life.”
Noyes has been in cover bands and had performed Motley Crue songs. “I knew most of them,” he said.
The Las Vegas shows had Motley 2 performing 13 songs at each performance. “They had a lot of songs for me to learn and sing,” Noyes said.
“We actually showed up on stage and we never practiced together,” Noyes said. “They’re great musicians, so we did pretty well.”
Noyes was asked to continue with the band. “They liked what I did,” he said.
“They’re really a bunch of good guys,” Noyes said. “I’m enjoying it.”
Noyes travels to join the other band members at their performances, so they discuss their upcoming acts but still don’t practice together. “The L.A. guys are on top of it,” Noyes said.
Noyes had been a Motley Crue fan before joining Motley 2. Noyes heard “Too Fast for Love” and “Starry Eyes” from Motley Crue’s first album, which was titled “Too Fast for Love” and originally released in 1981. “That introduced me to Motley Crue,” he said.
Motley Crue’s second album, “Shout at the Devil,” was released in 1983. “Shout at the Devil was amazing,” Noyes said. “I actually bought the cassette tape and played it over and over again until it wouldn’t play no more.”
Motley Crue’s first two albums remain Noyes’ favorites. During the concert at Pala Casino, Motley 2 played five songs from “Too Fast for Love” and nine from “Shout at the Devil.”
Motley Crue released “Theater of Pain” in 1985, “Girls, Girls, Girls” in 1987, and “Dr. Feelgood” in 1989. The tribute band’s Pala concert included two songs from “Theater of Pain,” three from “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and four from “Dr. Feelgood.”
“We try to pick the hits,” Noyes said. “You’ve got to pick the stuff people want to hear.”
That’s not an easy task for a tribute band with a stage time limit. On Saturday nights at Infinity, tribute bands begin playing at 8 p.m. and dancing with a disc jockey commences at 10 p.m. Motley 2 utilized part of the floor after 10 p.m. for fan photo opportunities, but the band was unable to fulfill fan requests for “Merry-Go-Round” from the “Too Fast for Love” album.
“There’s always a crowd that wants another song we didn’t play,” Noyes said.
“Starry Eyes” was also a casualty of the time limit.
“Trying to be Motley Crue, that’s really hard,” Noyes said. “There’s so many good songs.”
The July 12 concert was the first for Motley 2 at Infinity. “It was fabulous. The crowd was amazing. The stage, the casino, everything was great,” Noyes said.
“I love California and to visit Pala, California, was great,” Noyes said. “It was thrilling for me.”
The actual Motley Crue band will be performing July 30 at Chula Vista’s Sleep Train Amphitheater. Noyes noted that one of the pitfalls of being a tribute band is that if the actual band is playing nearby shortly before of after fans will likely choose to see the real band. “It’s really tough to get a gig,” he said.
The retirement of Motley Crue may thus mean additional bookings for tribute bands. “That means as far as a tribute, any tribute, it’s going to be a great opportunity to show Motley Crue as a tribute band,” Noyes said. “I think it’s a good opportunity and it’s great for us.”
Noyes has friends in other Motley Crue tribute bands and notes that the various tribute bands strive for perfection rather than compete against each other. “We’re trying to do better,” he said. “I would love to be the best Motley Crue tribute band ever and do the band justice.”
That allows for better performances for the fans. “They want to pay tribute to the band they love to watch,” Noyes said. “We put everything and our all into creating the most ultimate tribute to one of the most crazy bands in the world.”
Noyes noted the tribute band’s own satisfaction when the fans show their approval by cheering, dancing, and other positive actions. “That brings a smile to my face,” he said. “I see people with smiles on their faces and having a good time and dancing, that’s what it’s all about. That’s why I do it. That’s why we do it.”
The retirement of Motley Crue will make tribute bands a link to the original band’s music. “That’s the way I look at it,” Noyes said.
“Your best bet at seeing Motley Crue is going to be a tribute band and a good one,” Noyes said. “We want to bring that to the people and fans everywhere.”
The end of Motley Crue also means that there will be no new Motley Crue songs for tribute bands to learn, although that is not applicable for Motley 2. “Motley Crue’s done a great job on the new stuff as well, but everybody loves the old Motley Crue,” Noyes said. “We’re trying to bring alive the earlier days and it works very well.”
During the concert Noyes acknowledged the final tour of Motley Crue. “We might be back here, you never know,” he said early in the concert. “We’re not going anywhere.”
The willingness of Pala Casino to book Motley 2 on a night compatible with the tribute band’s schedule will determine whether the band returns to Pala. Noyes himself would like to return. “I can’t wait to be back there, to be honest,” he said.
“I think the crowd was amazing, the staff was amazing, at the casino,” Noyes said. “What a great venue.”
Should arrangements be made for Motley 2 to return to Pala, it likely will be after Motley Crue has ended its career as a band and tribute bands will be the best way for fans to hear live Motley Crue music. “We’re ready to rock you,” Noyes said.