Motorhead - Hammersmith Odeon, 30th Anniversary Show
Thursday 16th June
True story. Four guys are chatting on a District Line tube. They've all been to gigs. When asked how the Saint Etienne gig was the clean, tidy looking chaps reply: "Lacking in substance, probably unlike yours." The hot and sweaty Motorhead fans just grin.
Although it's possible they never heard the answer.
There's a message adorning half the backs in Hammersmith tonight, it's up on the walls of the merchandise stand and it'll soon be adorning a Londonista back too. It reads quite simply: Everything Louder Than Everything Else. It is a message, it is a mantra. It is Motorhead.
But first, let's take the shark. ?. No, seriously, let's take the shark. It is often considered the perfect species. It does what it does so perfectly that it has had no need to evolve, nor has done for millions of years. Lets take Motorhead. They could be argued to be the perfect band. They do what they do so perfectly and have had no need to evolve, nor have done for millions of years. Well, the last 30.
Yes folks, this evening's performance is billed as Motorhead's 30th anniversary show. 30 years! Are you serious? Are you sure? Is this legal? We're sure and we're here, for one night only, a return to the heady and glorious days of the Hammersmith Odeon, when rock really was rock and everyone would piss in the sinks. Hmm, maybe not that great then. Still, a time when a lighting rig shaped like a Heinkel bomber first hung from the roof of the Hammy O. 26 years after that notorious Bomber tour it flies again, shaking and wobbling it's way across the stage tonight, machine gun strobe lights flashing, whilst Lemmy and co run through the holy trinity of Bomber, Ace Of Spades and Overkill bludgeoning the audience into submission.
Lemmy. 60 years old this year and looking better than 100% of the audience here tonight. Gravel of voice, short of word and tall of stature, the meanest bass player in Christendom. Sell your idols on eBay this is the real mccoy. A man who genuinely doesn't care about what the rest of the world thinks about him or his music. Nor should he. Ozzy, Keef, that guy off Blue Peter - pah! Lightweights. There was mention of all the old band members being here tonight but none appear. They'd probably just get in the way. So instead we get a performance that's sniper sharp, brutally direct and loud. So very, VERY LOUD. So very very Motorhead.
Loud and awesome. An hour and a half of solid rock'n'roll. In time Motorhead may have been adopted by numerous tribes: punks, metalheads, thrash merchants but it all boils down to simple rock'n'roll played at ear crushing volume and at some speed. For one who hasn't bought a Motorhead album for some time it's hard to know what's always being played but none of this matters. Everything works the way it was meant to. Lemmy holds centre stage, playing bass like he's the lead guitarist instead of Phil Campbell, who is. Campbell lets fly crushing riff after crunching riff, still surprising you into remembering how many great melodic hooks sit under a Motorhead song. Relative newbie to the 'head camp is drummer Micky Dee who not only gets away with a drum solo but makes the damn thing not only interesting but in it's own way, seriously groovy. And we haven't said that for, well ever.
Ramones gallops along like a recording of the hooves pounding the turf at Ascot, We Are The Road Crew barely registers a consonant, so fast it is and Dancing On Your Grave is just solid headbanging dancingly brilliant. There's a ton of other stuff that's played with vital precision, workmanlike brilliance and with volume (which we might have mentioned already). When Lemmy announces the next one's a fast song you just have to stare in incredulity. There's faster? There's always faster! There's the lyrical simplicity of Killed By Death, and a surprise acoustic strum through Whorehouse Blues (not enough for a tip?). No fucking around, straight to the point four bar brain beating no turning back blues.
And finally there's that bomber. In all it's tacky brilliance it does everything it needs to do: strafing the audience, wobbling about dangerously, but so simple it's utter genius. This is possibly as close as Motorhead will ever come to a sense of nostalgia, because nostalgia's not about playing another great show. Tonight, though, is. Business as usual. It doesn't matter that this is a 30th anniversary show, a 31st anniversary show or just another show. It's a Motorhead show, perfect rock'n'roll. Everything indeed louder than everything else.