Now that’s a pretty varied bill right there, a German Country and Western band who do covers of pop and hip hop tracks (The BossHoss), the fathers of UK punk (The Damned) and the hardest rocking band in the world...any world for that matter...Motörhead.
Sadly we missed The BossHoss as they presumably came on at lunchtime...I jest, but only just. We got in around 7.40 and the roadies were already dismantling their kit and scratching their arses a lot (their own arses I hasten to add...as far as I’m aware The BossHoss don’t employ arse scratchers...although how cool would that be?).
We were there in plenty of time for The Damned though and it’s always a bit of treat to watch these punk survivors blast through some of that era’s best tunes. Despite requests Captain Sensible refused to play Happy Talk (boo!) but we did get a rousing Eloise with lead singer Dave Vanian in particularly fine voice. It’s the pure punk stuff that went down best with the ‘head fans tonight though, Love Song, New Rose, Neat Neat Neat (featuring some truly Hendrix-worthy guitar playing from Sensible) and Smash It Up were all dispatched with as much vim and vigour as they were almost 40 years ago...well almost. National treasures.
Speaking of which it looked like we might lose another one last year. Conceived at the tail end of World War II Lemmy’s lifestyle appeared to have finally caught up with him recently. Struck down by heart problems, diabetes and a number of other ailments most people would probably just curl up in a rocking chair and mainline Werther’s Originals. And yet here he is, nudging close to 70 and looking pretty much the same as he did when the ‘head first started deafening the world for a living way back in 1975. The formula’s stayed pretty similar for the past four decades too, play it fast, play it loud, play it hard...why mess with rock perfection eh?
Kicking off with the addictively riffy wild west (Midlands) rock out of Shoot You In The Back Lemmy’s vocal is perhaps a little rougher these days, but given that he’s always sounded like he’s been using his own larynx to sand rust off a ship’s hull that’s no great problem, far from it in fact. Much of Motörhead’s music revolves around overdoing it a little...okay...a lot...so it’s entirely appropriate that the man himself sounds like he’s ‘lived’. Mid set number Lost Woman Blues in particular benefits from this edge and if he ever fancied it you could almost see Mr Kilmister pulling off a pretty impressive full on blues album.
Pretty much everyone here to worship at the mole-ter though just wanted the band to rock their socks off and the longstanding trio of Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee dutifully obliged. Sure many of the songs share the same DNA but Campbell and Dee are phenomenal players and throughout the set they seemingly vied with each other to see who could pull off the most jaw dropping performance. Dee won by a knockout during Killed By Death though by somehow playing the kind of drum solo that a well co-ordinated octopus would struggle with whilst simultaneously chucking drumsticks high into the air then picking up fresh ones on the down beat. The man ain’t human.
In the middle of all the mayhem Lemmy remained as solid as a rock, cracking the odd between song joke, growling out the words and playing the bass with the ease of someone who’ll probably still be grinding out the hits when they try to nail down the lid. Predictably Ace Of Spades got the biggest reception but less predictably ex member “Fast” Eddie Clarke joined the band (Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor was also in attendance). This ramped the volume up to 11 but by this stage I guess everyone in the mosh pit was a deaf as a post anyway, besides as the lyrics to encore Overkill put it “Only way to feel the noise is when it’s good and loud”.
Mission well and truly achieved this evening I’d say.