C O L U M N S
Concert Report: Motorhead, Saxon, Crobot
About 7:30, the people start to trickle into the pit, though the line outside to get in
snakes around the casino upstairs. The legendary venue's patrons on parade pay tribute in
merch to the legends: Maiden, Metallica, Priest, Dio, and of course, the reason for the
season, Motorhead, all represented loud and proud. If there was anyone under 25, they were
probably cowering in a corner somewhere in fear for their ears.
Nigel Glockler's drum-slaught gave you CPR. The twin axe act of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt were so balanced and instinctual, flawless in blend and compliment, and the results were explosive. Quinn delivered solos with surgical madness in pristine chaos; beautiful, captivating, and bone-splitting. (The old bastard knows how to drive!) And Nibbs Carter, on the bass, had the most energy, but refreshingly didn't play into those flashy, silly bass-trickery tricks that get very tiresome very quickly. He just played his ass off, like a true down-home rocker. And as for Biff Byford, one of the most beloved frontmen of his era and today, is a perfect cross between a gentleman and a mother's nightmare. A majestic, towering presence of wit and mastery, he seduced and worked the audience with ease, and still hit every note with luscious tone and vibrato, as if he had sold his soul for a throat of chrome. Magnificent.
Saxon was one of the most surprising, and best, Metal shows I have seen in years. Walk in as a fan, walk out obsessed. Out-fucking-standing.
At around ten after 10:00, the men of the hour arrive. "We are Motorhead and we play rock-n-roll!" Though a little shaky at the start with some annoying tech issues, the train pulled from the station with, "Got No Time for a Damage Case."
Now, of course, Lemmy is divine. We know this. It's a spoken and unspoken given. No one has ever embodied Rock -- the life, and all it stands for the way he does. He's his own man, doing his own thing, his way, for the moment, by the moment, and he doesn't care. He's even out of the "ABBA closet." (Because let's face it: Everyone loves ABBA. Nobody wants to admit it). He is a beloved, living legend and will always be the face of Rock, Metal, and Motorhead. But, here's another thing: He can play the bass, lest you forget.
Motorhead is a band. You know, that structure where more than one person plays an instrument at the same time as all the other people to organize noise at the same time. It's not just Lemmy! Three members: Phil Campbell, Mickey Dee, and himself. He's not "Burt" from Mary frickin' Poppins steppin' in time, doing the shuffle with cymbals between his knees. There are other people on stage with him. And though this band is only made of three, they sound like six. Because they're loud? Yes. Because they're loud and because they can play.
Motorhead is a great band.
And then there's Mickey on drums. On the 11th hour, he played a solo and it was good. Lemmy introduced him as "the greatest drummer in the world." Though, that could be respectfully contestable, he most certainly had some skill. Not a lot of flash, but a whole lot of dynamic. Very respectable.
As for the figurehead, Lemmy has a style all of his own, onstage, musically, as well as in life. If you listen to Motorhead's library going back before you were hatched (or brewed, whatever), you will notice these really strong, immortal songs all have his distinctive ink, even if they were covered by New Kids on the Block. His four-string fashion and lyrics make up the spine of every one of those songs that no one has been able to emulate. Ever. His rasp over the mic is just the cherry on the cake. But, the main course before dessert is his bass. Tonight, at House of Blues, he showed Las Vegas that whatever condition he may be in, he's a fighter, and he can play.
Set list included "Metropolis," "Going to Brazil," as well as "Just Because You're Louder, Doesn't Mean You're Right," "Doctor Rock," and of course, "Ace of Spades," before finishing off with "Overkill." And though the show was perfectly imperfect, it was testament of why so many generations of rockers have learned from them, and more need to. Motorhead knows that before you smear the paint on your face or lace up your boots, there is volume, tude, and good riffs or you're not worth shit. In other words, know your bricks before you start building your castle.
They're not just louder than everything else, they're better. Bring your earplugs or don't.
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