By Gary Murray

Photos by John Strange

Starring Adam Jones, Mike Mason, Ronnie Faisst, Beau Bamburg, Taka Higashino, Dustin Miller, Nixey Danielson, Jackson Strong, Brody Wilson, Derek Garland, Jimmy Fitzpatrick, Jim McNell, Derek Guetter, Colton Moore, Geoff Aaron and Keith Wineland

With an announcer telling the tale of a future world in a Mad Max style destruction, Nuclear Cowboyz took over the American Airlines Center on January 22. For two hours, the audience got some of the most impressive motorcycle jumps to the beat of blaring heavy metal music.

Nuclear Cowboyz is a traveling motorcycle stage show that is filled with high jumps, severe explosive smoke, dancing girls and impressive stunts. The story is of three different groups battling for supremacy in this world. Instead of having just a series of stunts, the creators have made the stunts into a giant stage show.

We are introduced to two different motorcycle gangs, the Soldiers of Havoc and the Metal Mulisha, each wearing different colors and the leaders sporting red and green lights on their back fenders. The third gang is a group of Nuclear Cowboyz dancers and Shadow Warriorz acrobats, represented with blue, who are both a part of the show and a fill-in between the two sets motorcyclists taking stage.

First up are the Soldier of Havoc. They guys jump stories up in the air, with precision and acrobatics. The riders fly off their bikes, making them twist in the air as they find the perfect spot to land. We see them actually come off the machines and flip the bikes backward, doing full twists while being many feet off the ground. The Metal Mulisha come out and do the same kinds of effects, using side ramps to achieve higher altitudes. One of the most impressive feats is when a quad bike comes on the blackened stage. Not only does the rider make the bike sail in the air, his big finish is when the four wheeled beast flips backward and perfectly lands on the ramp.

This year there are a series of smaller walkways that connect the stage. Not only are they used by the dancers to keep focus on the center stage, but two of the riders do tricks while riding across the slight width of the connectors. Much like the show last year, the bikers rider up and over a series of destroyed cars, twisting and turning on the hood of the vehicles. The first act ends with a battle of bikes and some riders off the machines and hand-to-hand fighting.

The second act starts with a fire stunt with one rider actually on flames while flying through the air. The gangs get together and we get all the riders all over the ramp-filled stage. The ending of the show is when all 16 riders take the stage and do back flips three at a time on the ramps. When the crowd is on their feet applauding the stunt, the riders up the ante and jump and back flip four across, two on each ramp. It is perfectly synchronized, done flawlessly.

Director Barry Lather has truly given the spectacle a much grander vision this time out. We sill have brave stunts (the reason people come) but the story makes much more sense this time around. By using his non-riding cast as participants and not as distractions, he has found a solid center to the show. It is not just a framework for stunts but an actual play, just done with motorcycles and stunts.

This is the second time I have experienced Nuclear Cowboyz and the 2011 version is head and shoulders above the last edition. Many of the faults I noted from the last time I attended (the muffled narration) have been fixed and the final product is just a wonderful and different experience.

Nuclear Cowboyz is subtitled 'freestyle chaos' and that the best description of the show. With all the motorcycles flying over ramps, it is probably not the kind of show for the Great White Way, but is a fun and enjoyable night of thrills and chills. The show is loud, filled with roaring motorcycles and Kiss style flames and explosions, so bring your earplugs and don't miss Nuclear Cowboyz.

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