Machine Gun Kelly with special guests Avril Lavigne and Willow Xcel Energy Center St. Paul, MN 7/27/2022
What a great atmosphere last night at the Xcel. It looks to me that the show was sold out. There were people standing literally up in the rafters dancing and singing along. It’s what a concert should be. A bunch of people getting together and enjoying music. I’ve been to three or four shows in the last month at the Xcel and this one by far had the most people in attendance.
Going in I didn’t know what to expect of any of these artists because I truly was not familiar with any of them. The first on the bill was Willow. Maybe I’m getting old, but she did nothing for me. Her voice was rather abrasive, her songs left me with nothing. Perhaps it was the way she was dressed, it just felt like she was someone they pulled out of the audience and put her up on stage. I’ve always taken issue with that in the respect that if you’re going to play in front of a bunch of people look like you deserve to be there.
Avril Lavigne is an artist I was familiar with visually. I always assumed that she was more of a rock performer in the same vein as someone like Lita Ford. It turns out I was completely wrong, and she is a pop star. Her songs are catchy and easy to sing along with. The crowd reacted with enthusiasm to her, and it was a lot of fun to watch her perform. She has had several hits including her biggest “Complicated”. I found the two first songs of her set to be the ones I enjoyed the most. She performed “Girlfriend” and “Bite Me”. The songs are filled with a lot of teenage angst not unlike Alanis Morissette. I can completely see why so many people are fans of hers. I will always go and see her in the future.
I could not have picked headliner Machine Gun Kelly out of a one-man lineup before last night. I was aware of him because he played Tommy Lee in the Mötley Crüe biopic The Dirt. I also was aware that he was very controversial, but I wasn’t exactly sure why. I went in with an open mind not knowing what to expect and assumed that he was a rapper. Perhaps he started his career out that way I’m not sure, but I would say last night I witnessed a full-on rock star.
What an incredible show he put on. I was so impressed with what I saw. Not only did he have an amazing backup band of talented musicians, but he also gave people their money’s worth by giving them a show. He entered the arena by flying on a ladder attached to a helicopter from the back of the arena to the stage. He used pyro, smoke, and other fireworks to enhance the performance. The stage was interesting, and it reminded me a lot of the Mötley Crüe tour in 1984 for their album Theater of Pain. It was set at an angle with a checkerboard floor. For those of you that are old school, this will make sense. For those of you that are not, look at the photos to help understand what I’m trying to describe. It’s worth mentioning because it’s different. I for one really enjoy creativity in a performance and that includes a cool stage that’s different than what I’ve seen before.
He played all his biggest hits, and the crowd was excited as they could be at his performance. I get the impression that he’s taken quite a beating online. That seems to be a common theme nowadays for a lot of people that are in the public spotlight. I can’t tell if it really bothers him or if he’s playing off it. The entire concert was wrapped in a theme of this large TV box that would speak to the crowd and called itself the Internet. He seemed a bit overwhelmed at the size of the crowd but then again maybe he’s selling out like this in every city. He made mention that his grandparents were there that night which I thought was great. But what struck me most about his performance was how sincere he was in talking to his fans. He made several statements about being yourself, not giving up on who you are or your dreams. Not allowing somebody who you don’t even know to put you into a box or marginalize you by telling you you’re something that you’re not.
I know that he had a confrontation with Corey Taylor of Slipknot but in show business for all I know, that was all set-up and great for PR. Either way I thought he was amazing to watch and what I respected most about this performance is how he gave everything he had to his audience. I was fearful for a while that the rock stars of my generation were the last. I can safely tell you now that this young man is the new Rockstar for a new generation. It also struck me as I sat there watching him and wondered if this is how Tommy Lee would have liked to have had his life go. When he left Mötley Crüe for a while and started Methods of Mayhem, I get the impression that this is what he was hoping to have achieved. Very few can do what Machine Gun Kelly has been able to accomplish. I think he is fantastic, and I will definitely go see him again. I highly recommend you do the same.