Once möre, with feeling
Lemmy Kilmister and the men of Motörhead bring that old time religion to the Brick Works stage
Can you jump up and down and yell, “Yeah!"?
Sure you can. Especially if you just spent the best part of two hours having your ears blown back and your socks rocked off by the most powerfully visceral goodtime rock ‘n’ roll band on the planet.
I refer of course to that 25-year-old, inexorable warhorse of a renegade outlaw band, Motörhead.
After the interminable few weeks since the show’s announcement and an hour or so of standing in line among a motley crew of like-minded reprobates and high-spirited scalawags, and, yes, another hour or so of lapping up high-spirited beverages, it was a unanimous and hearty roar of appoval that met Lemmy’s announcement: “We are Motörhead, and we’re here to change your outlook!”
Having dispensed with the needless formality of an opening band, Motörhead launched straight into its piledriver theme song and statement of ultimate purpose, “We shoot power to your heart,/a mighty thunderbolt./We charge all batteries,/we save your soul … We are Motörhead. Born to kick your ass.”
And having stated its purpose the band lived up to every word of it.
Perched on the rail above the dancefloor looking down on a gleeful maelstrom of ecstatic revelers, I was reminded for a second of something I found beneath the lid of a catfood can that got left out in the sun for a few days after it got opened. But maggots don’t stop what they’re doing to help each other out if one of them falls down, and the kids in the Motörhead pit definitely were looking out for one another’s well-being, so there is living proof that Motörhead fans are a more ethical community than a can full of roiling maggots.
From the stage the members of Motörhead steered their course with dignified and reckless abandon. Shaggy-maned drummer Mikkey Dee kept the remorseless pace fierce and furious, battering his gargantuan kit with the delicacy and precision of a wrecking ball operator. And amazing guitarist Phil Campbell, true to his tattered outfit, absolutely shredded his instrument in the finest possible manner throughout the night.
But, despite the genuine brilliance of the supporting players, one goes to a Motörhead head show to see Mr. Kilmister, “The most dangerous man in rock ‘n’ roll,” as Campbell so succinctly put it. And Lemmy is not a man to let down his audience or anybody else. Head thrown back to howl in true wolf fashion into his inverted overhead mike, Lemmy definitely made the most of this full-moon event. The anthemic chorus of, “Born to raise hell, born to raise hell, we know how to do it, and we do it real well,” has surely never been shouted back at him with more vehemence and glee than on Monday night.
One of the many strengths of Motörhead is its willingness to accept the bad with the good of human existence without ever shying away from giving a bitter shout of derision to anyone who would willingly perpetuate the bad, and Lemmy pulled no punches here either, dedicating the show to the firemen and police of New York City and condemning the system that fostered the events that led up to his dedication.
Taking a somewhat sardonic poll of the number of “punks” in the audience, Lemmy announced, “We’re gonna play this one for you, just to show that it’s all just rock ‘n’ roll.” Then he ripped into a blazing version of the Sex Pistols’ “God save the Queen” that induced a frenzy of ecstatic moshing and shout-along singing.
Lemmy has the uncanny ability to invoke absolute eyes-wide-open celebration of this mortal life, and when his roaring anthem "Ace of Spades" kicked in full-force I too shouted, "I don’t want to live forever," but I know I’ll be hanging with Motörhead as long as it lasts.