NEW! Sixx: A.M.
(Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak, MI - April 21st, 2015)
Hard rock band Sixx: A.M. may well have only formed back in 2007 as a "bit of fun," but the band from Los Angeles, California created by Nikki Sixx, that includes both DJ Ashba and James Michael, is most definitely now a powerhaus musical machine of their own making. A side project of Sixx, better known for being the bass guitarist for Mötley Crüe, Sixx: A.M. (a combination of all of the member's last names: Sixx, Ashba, and Michael) came to town on their first headlining tour - and blew the roof off the Royal Oak Music Theatre!
As the lights go down, the pumped in music soon fades and most all the band members take to the stage. Two female backing singers, a drummer, guitarist DJ Ashba and bassist Nikki Sixx are quick to strike up the chords of the first song, just as the seemingly self-proclaimed rock God, James Michael, finally comes from stage right to center stage. Dressed head to toe in black, inclusive of fingerless gloves that he wears all night, his long flowing leather jacket opens to reveal black pants, black vest, and a black tshirt underneath! His blonde hair spiked, sunglasses firmly on, he outstretches his arms and bathes in the screams from the people before him; much like the Messiah himself.
"Let's Go," he screams into his mic, and as the band crank up their instruments, he adds, "Make some fuckin' noise for me, Detroit." The track of the same name is a brilliant, loud, flashy opener to the show, although it has to be said that the duel set of revolving bright white lights set amongst the backdrop were very blinding after a while! Next up is 'Give Me Your Love,' and by now Michael has removed his sunglasses. Sixx, however, hasn't - and never does! "How we doing, Detroit?", Michael asks the baying crowd, as the colorful light show behind and above them continues to be as ferocious as ever.
Michael then tells the story that it's been seven years since the band got together, that they've been making music all the time, and have never once stopped since then. He then thanks the two opening bands, before the band head into 'Relief.' Both Sixx and DJ Ashba have fun throughout the entire show with each other, literally bouncing off each other, trying to put each other off their musical stride and more. All in good fun, the trio are always smiling, always striving to bring the best version of the album track live to their fans.
During the last song, Michael leaves the stage to remove his long jacket, returns and encourages fist pumping to the still-playing 'Relief' from the audience. The tremendous title track from 2011’s 'This Is Gonna Hurt' is next and is backed by (finally) something from The Heroine Diaries, 'Pray For Me.' "How are you guys doing tonight?", Michael again inquires, before the piano is gently played to introduce, 'Dead Man's Ballet.' With Sixx posing, seeming zoned out a lot of the time, the song soon changes into a ball's out rocker, with audience arms swaying side to side under rich purple spotlights. Ashba then takes, somewhat reluctantly, to the mic to tell people his background and where he comes from in IN. He relates how he was stuck in a bubble, told to stay within it, in case things went wrong for him, but that he broke out of that bubble and look where he is today. He adds that he is just like us, and tells us never to stop trying. Never to give up.
The band then launch into 'Miracle,' which features an incredible guitar rock-off between Sixx and Ashba. Slipping off stage once more, Michael returns now without his vest, and the band then bring us the storming 'Live Forever,' which turns out to be a massive crowd favorite. With Canadian drummer Dustin Steinke performing like his life depended on it, during the song, Nikki reverts back to his good ol' days of 80's rock 'n roll - by swigging some water and then spitting it back into the front row! Next comes 'Live Forever,' before the piano is brought center stage for Michael to have a solo moment with The Cars cover, 'Drive.' That solo, quite moment doesn't last more than one chorus though, before the others all come back on stage to rock the crap out of it, quite like you've never heard it performed before!
Then it's Sixx's moment to speak, as he himself now comes center stage, drinking from a water bottle [watch out, front row!], he brings his hands together in a prayer motion to thank the fans, kneels, and begins: "When you make music, you make it to play for people," he explains, "but for me, at the beginning, I was just writing this book, The Heroin Diaries. And so for me, personally, this tonight is a dream come true, because we weren’t a band. That was never the original intent. So this whole Sixx: A.M. thing was an accident. I got James and Ashba to dig deep into their wounds, everything that had fucked them up to create these songs, because there's always hope in those wounds. So, we wrote the single, 'Life Is Beautiful' and then we started to get this itch," he continues, "and so now we stand here before you as a live band! You guys wouldn't stop tweeting us, telling us you wanted us to tour, and I honestly thought I was getting ready to retire! So, I have a promise to make to you all and that is next year there will be a new album, a new tour, and that's all down to you."
With that speech done, the band break into the epic 'Help In On The Way,' which culminates in all the band, save for the drummer, coming front and center for the songs finale. Another quiet piano intro leads us into the rocker, 'Goodbye My Friends,' which in turn ends with a stunning operatic moment from one of the lovely duo of backing singers. One of the best songs of the night for me, 'Lies of the Beautiful People' is next, which also allows the two backing singers to share the vocal spotlight more, before Michael warns the singing crowd that that was just their warm up, because the hit single 'Stars' was next!
Fittingly, as small, yet en masse of glittering "stars" fall from the ceiling as the song comes to an end, Michael gives one more shout out to Detroit, and the boys leave the stage. Back for the encore with barely a minute gone, Michael is alone back at his piano center stage, a dinner jacket now on, he gives us 'Skin, before Ashba comes to sit on the piano for his solo moment also. Under four purple spot lights, the scene is beautiful and fitting for the song. "Detroit, what a fucking great night," Michael admits, "and that means there is only one thing left to say ... life is fucking beautiful," and with that the rock pop bounce of the aforementioned 'Life Is Beautiful' track is brought to the fore.
"Let me hear you scream," Michael implores the by-now hoarse crowd, and as he introduces the band in full, then asks the crowd to sing the chorus themselves, come the final burst ending to the song, and with Michael announcing the name of the band and the fact that they would be back in Detroit soon, it has to be said that Sixx A.M. are better live than on CD! And that, right there, is a massive testament to the guitarists and the highly impressive vocal chords of the rock God Messiah himself, James Michael!
Reviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
The highly-impressive Royal Oak Music Theatre is located at 318 W. Fourth Street, Royal Oak, Michigan. It was built as a vaudeville theatre and opened in 1928.
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