Gigs

Motörhead @ London Hammersmith Apollo 12/11/11

Around this time of year, three things can generally be guaranteed. Firstly, whether you like it or not, talk of the X Factor will be inescapable. Secondly, everyone will be eagerly anticipating the Coca-Cola ‘Holidays are comin’’ advert to determine when it’s ‘officially’ Christmas. And thirdly, Motörhead will be powering through yet another UK tour.

Motörhead’s touring schedule is one that would put most bands to shame, and regularly takes in the US, summer festivals, and Europe. Now in their 36th year as a band, Motörhead – comprised of singer/bassist and all-round metal icon Lemmy, guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee – released their most recent album, ‘The Wörld is Yours’, earlier this year, showing that they’re not planning on stopping any time soon.

Walking on to a darkened stage to the sound of an air raid siren, the band storm straight into ‘Bomber’, one of their most recognised classics. Lemmy, as always, has a commanding presence, pounding away at his Rickenbacker bass and growling into the mic. At 66 years old, he is arguably one of the few people left on the planet who can claim to be a bona fide rock legend, and it is in a live environment that he really shines. The setlist is a great mixture of the old – ‘Damage Case’, ‘Metropolis’, ‘The Chase is Better Than the Catch’ – and the new – ‘Rock Out’, ‘One Night Stand’, ‘Get Back in Line’, with all eras of the Motörhead back catalogue being well received by the crowd. Mikkey Dee’s drum solo during ‘The One to Sing the Blues’ is also impressive – despite being hilariously recognisable as the same solo he uses every year.

Perhaps it’s because of their gruelling schedule, but many aspects of Motörhead’s live show remain noticeably unchanged from tour to tour. For example, they will always ask the crowd whether it’s loud enough, and then turn their amps up. Phil Campbell will always count to three and ask the crowd to make as much noise as they can. Lemmy will always introduce Mikkey Dee as ‘the best drummer in the world’. What they lack in originality, however, they more than make up for with the fact that they are one of rock’s most influential bands with a legacy and live show to match.

For their encore, they throw a curveball at the audience with Lemmy ditching his bass, and Campbell and Dee picking up acoustic guitars for a rendition of the excellent ‘Whorehouse Blues’. ‘We come up from the gutter/the wrong side of the tracks’, rasps Lemmy before playing a harmonica solo, which at this volume sounds like having a robot whistling directly into your eardrum. After giving the crowd this acoustic breather, Motörhead return to their usual instruments, and Lemmy quips ‘I bet you can guess the next song,’ by way of introduction to ‘Ace of Spades’. Lemmy’s distaste for the song is well-documented, but its role as Motörhead’s defining song is undeniable, and the crowd’s reaction more than reflects this.

Set closer ‘Overkill’ is certainly a highlight, with Mikkey Dee bashing out a pummelling drum beat and strobe lights aplenty. As the band leave the stage in a storm of guitar feedback, the opening lines from ‘Overkill’ come to mind as a description of the whole Motörhead experience – ‘The only way to feel the noise is when it’s good and loud/so good you can’t believe it, screaming with the crowd’.

Will Gulseven

………Will has been istening to Sleep – ‘Dopesmoker’ …..

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