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Road Reports

Artist: Motorhead
Where: Grand Rapids, MI
Opener: ASG, Year Long Disaster, Valient Thorr
Date: 9/13/08
Written By: Raising Iron

Motorhead are currently on a North American headlining tour in support of their latest release, "Motorizer", another by the numbers (Motorhead's numbers, that is!) release of classic speedy, heavy, thrashy, trashy, rock and roll. I had the privilege of catching their act Saturday night, 9/13/08, in Grand Rapids, MI, and they played with all the youthful exuberance of those half their age.

But first, we should mention the opening acts. Airborne were scheduled to be on the tour but due to their singer falling ill they dropped off the bill before any shows got underway. The Misfits, a band I've always wanted to see since the days of wearing Crimson Ghost t-shirts in my youth, even though I knew their true identity--Glenn Danzig--would not have been behind the mic, dropped off suddenly without explanation, other than Jerry Only posting some rant about "keeping their integrity, etc...", which really doesn't make sense since I thought they fit well with the headliners, both bands hearkening back to the '70s and both bands also drawing quite a bit of cross-genre fandom from both the punk and metal worlds.

Oh well, Motorhead picked up California based ASG (Amplification of Self Gratification, I think!?), who are another typical post-stoner rock/metal band, Kyuss being a good point of reference. They took the opening slot, no light show, but were surprisingly likable, the crowd warming up to them a bit. Next up was Year Long Disaster, more post-punk, mallcore nonsense that to these aged ears sounded like kids trying to be grown-ups playing in the deep end of the pool where they really don't belong. Following them was Valient Thorr, who elicited a huge response from the now near capacity crowd of about 1500 people. This is a band I hadn't heard of and I can see why, more NON-METAL! I guess a hybrid stoner/southern/hard rock thingy with a singer who frankly, doesn't sing, but simply shouts out diatribes like a transplanted, inner-city rapper trying to fit in the out of the way clubs from the Carolinas. Typical socio-political gripes between songs were levied toward the crowd from this long-bearded singer who was really quite active, running from stage left to right and climbing atop PA cabinetry. The guitar playing was OK, drumming simplistic with very little fills, and I stood perplexed after their set as to what all the hoopla was about with these guys, as I found myself exceedingly annoyed with the vox wanting desperately for their hour-long set to end so we could get on with Motorhead.

Before the lights even went down, half the club, including myself, was chanting "Motorhead" as we could hardly stand the wait any longer. The lights went down, and finally, the UK legends took the stage with command, Lemmy introducing themselves with the simple statement, "We're Motorhead, and we play rock 'n' roll" before launching into the Orgasmatron classic, "Dr. Rock". Following that up with "Stay Clean", the crowd I was standing in 3 rows from the rail was already ballistic, mosh pits growing, moving, and morphing as others tried to hold their ground in the sea of madness. Crowd surfing was a regular event, with bodies constantly going overhead as I tried to keep my eyes on the stage and focus on the first of 2 new songs being showcased that night, "Rock Out"--another song scooped up by the wrestling world recently. Other highlights were "Metropolis", "Be My Baby" and "One Night Stand".

About halfway through the show, another new one, "The Thousand Names of God", made its appearance, the crowd showing no signs of tiring, followed up with "Rosalie", a Thin Lizzy cover, then came "In the Name of Tragedy" from their modern classic, "Inferno", setting up Mikkey Dee for his drum solo, during which mosh pits unbelievably continued to ebb and wane! After the solo, Lemmy and Phil retook the stage and launched into one of my faves, "Just Cuz You Got the Power", a slower, lumbering, heavy as hell song originally only found on the "Eat the Rich" single from "Rock ‘n' Roll". "Going to Brazil", off the vastly underrated album, "1916", sped things back up and carried over into "Killed By Death", the singer from Valiant Thorr taking the stage next to Phil to help sing. Lemmy shot some glares at him, seeming to be annoyed at his inability to harmonize, or maybe it was just me aghast that in the middle of my beloved Motorhead set this guy shows back up! Oh well, after that he left the stage, and the classic "Iron Fist" closed things off before the encore. The guys came back out, Mikkey Dee sitting stage right, with an acoustic guitar, bass drum, and high hat, Phil sitting stage left with an acoustic guitar, and Lemmy center stage with the mic and mouth harp. Yes, they played "Whorehouse Blues", Motorhead rarely treading into this territory, but every damn time they do they give us a killer track! (See the title track from "1916" and "Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me" for some other great "softies")

Putting the acoustics away and getting back to brass tacks, they launch into what many in the club were shouting for all night, "Ace of Spades", full choral assistance came from the highly active crowd as we all sang along with this, granted, now overplayed classic. Folks were still shaking violently down front when we were beset by the final song of the evening, "Overkill", another classic with the start/stop of the outro played righteously, keeping us cooing and craving for one more round! The lights went up and soaked with sweat I went to find my wife and party I arrived with to talk about what we felt were some highlights and lowlights of the show. We agreed on two things, the vocals were really buried in the mix and between song banter was almost completely inaudible as the chorus and reverb on Lemmy's mic was so damn high, his talking sounded like mush. I've been to several shows at this venue, and the vox are always a recurring problem. We piled into our car just before midnight to go catch a few drinks at the bar content we got see this legendary act live, as they are aging, Lemmy now 62 I think, so who knows how much longer they will be going? But, they showed no signs of slowing down; embracing their lives on the road with all the gusto of youth, and that is certainly reassuring.

Thanks for a great show, Motorhead!

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