Hearing of the sad news that heavy metal legend Lemmy passed away yesterday I have been listening to his work with both Hawkwind and Motörhead today, and it seemed like as good a time as any to have a look back at when I saw the latter in concert.
It was during the Motörizer Tour of the UK back in November 2008 and, despite being a fan of the band for years, was the first time I had seen Motörhead in the live arena. So, for the second time in a week, I headed off to Bristol and to the Colston Hall, where I had seen a number of bands in my youth.
From the balcony I watched as the first band of the night, Canadian trio Danko Jones, hit the stage. Promoting their fourth album “Never Too Loud” I hadn’t heard anything by the band prior to the gig so was unfamiliar with their material. I do recall that the band were tight and impressive and had a set full of catchy melodic AC/DC-like tunes. Likely playing tracks like “Baby Hates Me” and “Still In High School” I do remember that they finished their brief set with a note-perfect excerpt of the Rush instrumental “YYZ”.
Next up were Yorkshire legends Saxon who were gearing up to the imminent release of their eighteenth studio album “Into The Labyrinth” in January 2009. This was the second time I’d seen this band live, the first being way back in 1982 in the very same venue as headliners.
As main support band Biff and the boys were obviously unable to perform a full set but managed to cram two tracks from their most recent album, “Let Me Feel Your Power” and “Ashes To Ashes” into a set containing some stone-cold classic heavy metal tunes such as “Denim And Leather”, “And The Bands Played On” and “747 (Strangers In The Night)” and still find room for brand new single “Live To Rock”. Fantastic to see them live again so long – a superb performance.
1. Motorcycle Man / 2. Let Me Feel Your Power / 3. And The Bands Played On / 4. Live To Rock / 5. Heavy Metal Thunder / 6. Witchfinder General / 7. Denim And Leather / 8. Ashes To Ashes / 9. Princess Of The Night / 10. 747 (Strangers In The Night)
1 and 10 originally from “Wheels Of Steel” (1980) / 2 and 8 originally from “The Inner Sanctum” (2007) / 3, 7 and 9 originally from “Denim And Leather” (1981) / 4 originally from “Into The Labyrinth” (2009) /5 originally from “Strong Arm Of The Law” (1980) / 6 originally from “Lionheart” (2004)
Following the interval it was time for the main event. I recall my first Motörhead record being the live version of “Motörhead”, backed with “Over The Top”, issued to promote the live “No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith” album. I don’t think I’d heard anything quite like it before!
Anyway on came vocalist / bassist Lemmy, guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee, with Lemmy announcing “We are Motörhead and we play rock and roll” and bang! – we were headlong into “Iron Fist”.
A set full of classics from throughout the band’s career followed, including two songs from the oft-maligned “Another Perfect Day” record that was made when ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Brian Robertson was briefly a member of the group.
Campbell’s guitar riffs and solo flourishes were bang on the money, under-pinned by Lemmy’s unique bass playing style and Dee’s incredible drumming. To play a track like “Overkill” with the energy that he did at the tail end of a long set is no mean feat!
Lemmy himself proved to be every inch the icon and force of nature that I expected him to be and was the very personification of Motörhead and their music. A cover of Bob Seger’s”Rosalie” – many will be more familiar with Thin Lizzy’s cracking version – was a surprise inclusion but slotted nicely into the middle of the set. “Stay Clean”, “Rock Out” and “Metropolis” were other highlights.
The encore began with “Whorehouse Blues”, an acoustic foot-stomper that saw Campbell and Dee playing acoustic guitars, with the latter also handling percussion at the same time, and is one of my favourite latter-day tunes from the band’s extensive catalogue.
Then it was onto the home straight with the one-two finale of signature song “Ace Of Spades” and then “Overkill”. Stunning and, frankly, rather deafening. What a great show!
1. Iron Fist / 2. Stay Clean / 3. Be My Baby / 4. Rock Out / 5. Metropolis / 6. Over The Top / 7. One Night Stand / 8. I Got Mine / 9. Guitar Solo / 10. The Thousand Names Of God / 11. Rosalie / 12. Another Perfect Day / 13. In The Name Of Tragedy / Drum Solo / 14. Just ‘Cos You Got The Power / 15. Going To Brazil / 16. Killed By Death / 17. Born To Raise Hell / 18. Whorehouse Blues / 19. Ace Of Spades / 20. Overkill
1 originally from “Iron Fist” (1982) / 2, 5 and 20 originally from “Overkill” (1979) / 3 and 7 originally from “Kiss Of Death” (2006) / 4 and 10 originally from Motörizer (2008) / 6 originally b-side from “Bomber” single (1979) / 8 and 12 originally from “Another Perfect Day” (1983) / 13 and 18 originally from “Inferno” (2004) / 14 originally from “Rock ‘N’ Roll” (1987) / 15 originally from “1916” (1991) / 16 originally from “No Remorse” (1984) / 17 originally from “Bastards” (1993) / 19 originally from “Ace Of Spades” (1980)