Friday, April 29, 2005

review - Motorhead, April 22, 2005 Winnipeg, Canada

Last Friday, I attended the Motorhead concert at the Burton Cummings Theatre in Winnipeg, Canada, which was my second time seeing them in five years.

Fronted by the 59 year-old bassist/ vocalist Lemmy, Motorhead are quite possibly the world’s oldest fast and heavy band, preceding thrash and speed metal but being hugely influential to just about every fast, raw and heavy band around.

I showed up late in order to miss the opening band, Zeke. I was seated prior to the set by Three Inches of Blood. They tend to focus their lyrics on “Lord of the Rings”-type subject matter. They have two lead singers and put on an entertaining show. I have to hand it to them for having a concept and proudly sticking to it.

Corrosion of Conformity were on next. I briefly listened to their new CD, “In the Arms of God,” and I plan to review it soon. During their soundcheck, I involuntarily blinked each time the kick drum was struck. I sat in the fourth row, about seven feet from the right-side stack of speakers. Of course, I wore hearing protection. During the show, the drums in particular made my lungs vibrate. It’s actually a sensational feeling to be next to something so loud and feel the music, but at the same time, have yours hearing protected by ear plugs.

This was my first time seeing COC and I was pleasantly surprised by how professional and talented they were. Their songs move from slow and sludgy to over the top power house thrash metal, often in the same song. Close your eyes and you will think you are listening to Slayer. When I gave their new CD a listen, my initial reaction was that they are “Sabbath-tallica.” After seeing them live, I would venture to say that while some of their influences are obvious, they ultimately have their own style that some have described as being southern-rock metal. Quite honestly, the gulf between 3 Inches of Blood and COC was great. COC are a finely tuned band with deft musicians.

Motorhead took to the stage with Lemmy standing on the right side, not too far from me. He and guitarist Phil Campbell actually look short on stage. Not really showing his age, Lemmy took his stance and sang in his trademark style up into the microphone. Throughout the show, Lemmy made a point of mentioning the new album, Inferno, in almost a teasing style, as if to say, don’t just download it, buy it. True to expectations, Motorhead played several of their most notable songs, including Metropolis, Love Me Like A Reptile, Stay Clean, I’ve Got Mine, Dancing On Your Grave, Ace of Spades, Iron Fist, and Overkill. During the introduction to I’ve Got Mine, Lemmy indicated that when the album “Another Perfect Day” came out, everyone hated it, but asked us to see if we still hated it. I’ve Got Mine is probably my favorite Motorhead song. It’s decidedly melodic as opposed to being fast and raw. Unfortunately, live, it didn’t come across as well as it should. Have. The drum parts were played too fast and the guitar was too subdued to bring out the delicious, catchy riffs from the video and album.

Most of the newer tracks failed to impress and just sounded like Motorhead by-numbers, save for Whorehouse Blues. This was one of the encores and it was played with both Phil Campbell and Mickey Dee on acoustic guitars and Lemmy on harmonica.

It was a lot of fun to watch the crowd. Several people tried to walk down the ailes to the front of the stage, only to be met by a security person who made them turn around. If you were seating in that area, you weren’t rushing the stage. It was hilarious to watch some people strike out with one security person, only to trek to the other side of the theatre to try to their luck with the other person. No luck again!

Motorhead finally packed it in a 1 AM, giving us an intense 90 minute set. Clearly, they have been treading water with their career for a long time now. In this age of easy illegal music downloads, Motorhead must surely be facing declining album sales, hence the constant touring to keep their name alive. So long as Lemmy is willing to perform live, Motorhead will continue to be one of the most legendary bands in rock’n’roll and a band every metal fan should see.

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