I was listening to the new Motörhead album while writing this post.
Everything Louder Than Everything Else.
After Biffy Clyro hit the last notes of Mountains at about 7:30, I looked at The Girl and said “It shouldn’t take long to strike their gear. There isn’t much of it.”
She said “Especially with THAT many people” and pointed to the stage. There were at least 20 roadies rushing the stage. No word of a lie, it took one trip and everything was gone. It literally took about 45 seconds and all remnants of Biffy were gone. I’ve never seen that before.
Motörhead’s stuff was already set up behind Biffy’s, so all that needed to be done was to remove the drape from the drum kit and bring out some guitars. At 7:45, Lemmy and the boys hit the stage.
I saw the original line-up with Fast Eddie and Philthy at the Max Bell Arena in about 1981 or so (with the same Bomber lighting rig as is on the cover of No Sleep ’til Hammersmith). It’s roughly the same capacity as the Adams Center, so I had a good idea how noisy it was going to get. After the show in ’81, I couldn’t hear if my car was started. I had to put it in gear and hope it moved. My ears rang for about 3 days.
I have hearing damage already, so I figured one more blast couldn’t make it any worse. Although I had earplugs in my pocket, I decided to be a tough guy. The Girl took my pre-show advice and had her earplugs in already. We both laughed when Lemmy walked on stage and, before playing a single note, turned to his Marshall stack and turned it up. You could hear the amp buzz go up from 200 feet away over the roar of 5000 people.
Then he said “We’re Motörhead…from England…and we play rock and roll” and they proceeded to beat the snot out of everybody with Iron Fist.
The phrase “Everything Louder Than Everything Else” that has become the band’s de facto trademark (along with the famous Snaggletooth logo) is not an exaggeration. For those who have never experienced Motörhead in concert, it’s hard to explain the racket they make. It’s glorious.
I lasted 5 songs/20 minutes before I had to admit defeat. At that point, guitarist Phil Campbell got on the mic and said “Anybody who wants us to play louder, PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR!”. Of course everybody including me put their hands up, but there was a voice in the back of my head saying “…don’t put your hands up. They MEAN it.” Sure enough, Lemmy chimes in with “Give the people what they want then…TURN IT UP.”
20 seconds in to One Night Stand, I had to put the earplugs in. The volume was literally making me feel nauseous. Lemmy might not have discovered the mythical “brown note”, but he sure as hell knows what the “peas and carrots” note is.
The Girl decided she needed to know what raw Motörhead sounded like, so when they played Ace of Spades she took her earplugs out for about 30 seconds. I asked afterwards what she thought and she said “I couldn’t really hear a song. It just sounded like I was standing inside a jet engine.”
My absolute fav Motörhead song is Overkill, so I was thrilled when that drumbeat began for what turned out to be the final song of the set. Anyone who wasn’t already close to barfing from the volume was surely going to purge during this song. The light guy synced extremely bright xenon strobes to Mikkey Dee’s double kick beat…for the entire song…directly into the audience’s eyes. It was a brutal assault on two of the senses I value the most. It’s a miracle nobody had an epileptic seizure. It was the first, and I suspect only, time I’ve seen an opening band who were louder than the headliner.
So yeah…Motörhead were awesome.
It’s amusing to me that in contrast to the fury of the music, there’s no sense of urgency in Lemmy’s movements. He just saunters around the stage, casually exploding heads like the dude in Scanners. Mikkey Dee, however, is a tornado. All arms and hair. It’s also amusing to me that Mikkey joined the band in 1992, and he’s the new guy. If you go to imotorhead.com, you can get a complete list of the band’s gigs going back to 1975. I was in grade 5 when Lemmy started this band. I’m 47 now. Both of my kids are many years past grade 5 too. Phil Campbell has been in the band for 27 years.
I was pleased that The Girl got to see a living legend. She’ll remember it forever I hope. You’ve earned some rock and roll stripes when you can say “I’ve seen Lemmy”. She nailed it on the ride home though, when she said “It’s not that they’re ridiculously heavy like all the bands they influenced. They’re just a really really really really loud noisy band. Take away Lemmy’s voice and you’ve got a straight ahead rock and roll band.”
The set list (7:45 – 8:45 PM)
- Iron Fist
- Stay Clean
- Get Back In Line
- Over The Top
- One Night Stand
- I Know How To Die
- In The Name Of Tragedy
- (drum solo)
- Going To Brazil
- Killed By Death
- Ace of Spades