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An Ode To Motorhead and Lemmy. Class.

Mes dames unt mein herres regard et ecoutes le fantastique Lemmy Kilminster in a great interview in er…c.1970, 80-something dealing most magnificently with a rather staid sounding journalist. (click link as embedding disabled!)

I have only ever seen Motorhead four times in my life – the first time was when I was 11 where my ears bled and I couldn’t hear anything at school for the next week which was quite the best thing ever. At the gig me and my brothers turned to our Dad and shouted ‘Daddeee, our ears really huuurt’ We were told to stop moaning and put our fingers in our ears which we did for most of the show with a few goes of daring each other to take our fingers out at which point we would all scream and laugh because it felt like you were being hit by an express train of noise. Brilliant. Also especially brilliant was running around at the aftershow helping ourselves to everything while the adults got trashed. I then became a punk and decided I couldn’t talk to or be seen with flare-wearing ‘heavy metallers’ – mainly pimplygeekboys with long dull mousy hair and cut off denim jackets with Journey and Motorhead patches sewn onto the back. Secretly I loved Ace of Spades which to me has always been more punk than metal but that’s another story.

The other three gigs were much later in life and most recently the other week at timewarp Hammersmith Odeon. I mean the Apollo of course although it hasn’t changed at all and is still the same old smelly, sticky, beery, dark Odeon. As I queued at the bar I could see a man and his no more than 10 or 11yr old son standing next to me. Thoughts of blimey I wonder what they are going to order? Two JD and Coke? ran through my mind. Surely not. Suddenly the Dad piped up: “Two vanilla icecreams please”. I love that. A great mix of traditional theatre interval snack coupled with unbelievably loud and proper rock and roll. What more could an 11 year old want?

Next I went in search of the Ladies. I didn’t really need a wee – I just wanted to eavesdrop on possibly amusing fan talk. There was a woman queuing who was dressed in a big mega shiny polyester basque and was apparently following every UK show on the current tour. Staggering. She was moaning about how she had been in Southend earlier in the week, had to go up to Wolverhampton the next day and was really pissed off The Damned were on as support as it meant she might miss her last train home to Ipswich. Now that is a dedicated fan. Then she spent at least 12 mins trying to stop her ‘blimming flyaway hair’. Jesus christ woman – we are at a gig – a Motorhead gig – it’s dark, and sweaty, and loud – fuck the flyaway hair that would be long gone by the middle 8 of Bomber!


I missed Girlschool who were on before The Damned – mainly due to eavesdropping as above. I could hear the chugga chugga of their only hit I know which is the one they originally performed with Motorhead “Please Don’t Touch”. Top tune. Perhaps that is their only hit but I’m sure not. I did get very organised and make sure that I didn’t miss The Damned who were on great form. It is the only time I have heard Dave Vanian sing brilliantly. Really. He was incredible. Monty Oxymoron was leaping about like an excited demented Magnus Pyke from the underworld and La Sensible was tight tight tight. All in all quite neat neat neat despite the naff gimmick of the Captain being pretend-pulled off stage for trying to sing Happy Talk as an encore.


Next the atmosphere shifted and suddenly it felt like iron filings were filling the air with their heavy metallic tension. Lots of big boom boom on the bass drum and wheeling large hangings into place. Premature cheering. Flashing green lights – that sort of thing. Suddenly a big cheeeer-rraaargghhh roar.

I saw the top of Lemmy’s big stetson hat floating across the stage – at that point I had the tallest man with the fattest neck suddenly come and stand in front of me. Not great when you are 5’3″. He moved (after I shouted “for fuck’s sake” a little too loudly).

Lemmy’s wonderfully raspy opening salvo was exactly this: Hello. We are Motorhead and we play Rock and Fucking Roll.

(Vintage Top of Pops with Filthy Phil Taylor chewing gurning-gum madly)

And so they fugging do – brillliant vibrant rock and roll. Bomber, Rock With Your Cock Out, Metropolis, No Class, (Teach You How To) Sing the Blues were big highlights. I don’t wholly get the whole proper metal thing really – Motorhead are more punk to me. I don’t get the devil’s hand point thing and I don’t get the slightly overlong drum solo’s impressive as they are. Leaping about yes – headbanging no – I just don’t get it. The diehard fans love it and Motorhead love them back which is great. But what I do get is the noise (and the louder the better), the proper bluesy rock’n’roll chords and arrangements and the life of the rock and roller all gloriously breathed in and out night after night after night by a 64 year old man in tight black jeans and big boots who sure knows how to live. Impressive. Fun. Perfect.

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