Motley Crue is one of the biggest rock bands on the planet and has been for a good chunk of the past three decades. It's a hugely impressive feat when you consider the bumpy the journey for its hell-raising, hard-living members, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars and Vince Neil.

They have all traversed a road riddled with addiction, debauchery, break-ups and tragedy.

And each one of them would probably tell you they're lucky to still be alive.

So it makes complete sense they'd want to go out with a massive bang - one final tour designed to blow the roof off stadiums the world over. And what makes it extra special for Kiwi fans is that it's not just Motley Crue's last concert, it's also their first in New Zealand.

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Rumours started swirling the band might be heading this way when they announced their last-ever tour at the beginning of last year. The stories gained momentum when the Australian leg of the tour was revealed, but with no New Zealand dates announced, Kiwi fans were left wondering if yet again they had been left out.

Auckland-based Ash Gibb, who set up the "Bring Motley Crue to New Zealand" Facebook page, considered travelling to Australia for the shows. He'd thought about it in the past as well, but it wasn't possible.

"I never had the funds to fly or for the accommodation, the ticket and so on," he says.
But Gibb and thousands of others were put out of their misery when Live Nation revealed in mid-February that Auckland's Vector Arena was also on the cards. The news sent fans into a frenzy - after a wait of 30-odd years, the Crue were finally coming to New Zealand.

Sixx was quoted in the media release that accompanied the announcement: "We're truly excited to come to New Zealand with the final tour and celebrate 34 years of Motley Crue with our fans. It's the final tour, but it's not a farewell tour because our music will live on long after we've stopped touring," said the bassist.

By contrast, Mars' reaction is more subdued. But you'd expect no less from the so-called quiet one in the band. He has mostly shied away from doing publicity, allowing the three more flamboyant members to hog the limelight.

Nevertheless, he is doing telephone promo from his home in Nashville and says he's pleased to be visiting New Zealand but he is just as pleased it's the final chapter in the Motley Crue story. "We've pretty much run our course," says the guitarist. "We are one of the bigger bands in the world, along with Iron Maiden and Metallica, and we want to go out like that, as opposed to sinking down to being 75 years old and playing in some club. It's better to go out stronger than weak."

And when Mars says stronger, he really means it. Last year's leg of this two-year "final tour" was one of the top grossing in the US, selling close to a million tickets in 72 cities and taking in more than $58 million.

Singer Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars and bassist Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue perform. Photo / Getty Images
Singer Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars and bassist Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue perform. Photo / Getty Images

For fans like Gibb, it's not just that they've made great records, it's their reputation as one of the greatest live bands around. "Rock'n'roll is all about live music and Motley Crue always bring the craziest shows. I reckon they'll rock Auckland just as hard as any other city they've toured in, and we'll be talking about it for a while. Plus, they're bringing Alice Cooper with them," he says.

The internet is packed with am-cam footage of Crue gigs around the world and threads of fans debating the intricacies of each show. Lee's drum stunts get the most traction, especially the "Cruecifly" - a 15m-high structure that sends the drummer soaring high above the audience in a roller coaster. It takes four hours to build and as Mars explains, "it hangs from the rafters", so can't be rigged in some arenas, in which case the band does "The Cobra".

"It's pretty cool, too," he says. And it makes for no less a spectacular show. "We do tons and tons of pyro as well, whatever the fire marshal will let us get away with."

Concertgoers can expect hits like Home Sweet Home, Girls Girls Girls and Kickstart My Heart, from the band's hey-day, which stretched from the mid 80s to the early 90s. But there are many more years and songs to cover on this final tour, from their 1981 debut Too Fast for Love to their last record, 2008's Saints of Los Angeles.

"We usually sit down and go through our parts and we decide what songs we want to play. We will play the hits, but we change stuff around, too," says Mars.

After New Zealand, they head to Australia, Scandinavia, the UK, Canada, Mexico and dozens of US states, before one final hoorah at the Staples Center on New Year's Eve, in the city where it all started, Los Angeles.

It's a symbolic ending for the band, which alongside the likes of Guns N' Roses and Skid Row, led LA's glam-metal era of rock star overindulgence.

But Mars says it would be more fitting if their final show could be at the spot where it truly began, Sunset Strip in West Hollywood.

"I would like to play just one more extra show, where we really started and that's at the Whisky. I always wanted to play on the roof." He adds there's talk about the Whisky being torn down like other iconic music venues along the Strip, including the House of Blues.

"It's a different place now. It's more of a tourist spot that a rock'n'roll spot."

It's one of the reasons he moved to Nashville two years ago. "There are a lot of different musicians living here now. Dave Mustaine [from Megadeth] moved here a couple of months ago; I'm here, John Corabi [who filled in for Neil when he left the band for a short spell in 1992] is here. There are a lot of rock'n'roll people here, not just country music people."

It's where Mars is looking forward to hanging up his Crue boots for good and the city where he hopes to get around to writing his version of events, to sit on bookshelves alongside bestselling autobiographies by band-mates Lee, Sixx and Neil.

And next to, of course, the band's notorious tell-all biography The Dirt, which details the band's every gritty and "completely compelling and utterly revolting" moment - as a Rolling Stone reviewer called it - from Sixx's near-death heroin overdose to the fatal car crash caused by Neil and Mars' battle with the bottle.

The guitarist doesn't reveal much about what detail he'll go into, but says he has never been bothered about stories that have been written about him. "It's okay with me. You know, the sex, drugs, rock'n'roll stories, like: 'Oh, I saw Mick Mars laying in the gutter'.

That stuff doesn't bother me. It's kind of cool."

But he will say it has been one hell of a ride. "Motley Crue is the band that made me, or gave me what it is that I have now.

"Would I do things differently if I could do it all again? No, but maybe I'd have been different."

A man of few words, Mars doesn't elaborate. But he is clear - this really is the end of the mighty Crue. "We're absolutely done. On New Year's Eve 2015, we're done ... the world won't see us again."

Motley Crue, supported by Alice Cooper, plays Vector Arena in Auckland on Saturday, May 9.