Live Review: Motorhead

by Mitch Goldman

Masquerade, Atlanta, GA 1/27/96

"Lemmy is God!" was not just a joke from last year's heavy metal satire filmAirheads, but a credo by which Motorhead fans have lived since theband's inception in 1975. Lemmy Kilmister, after being ousted from prog-rockpioneer outfit Hawkwind, decided to form the ultimate power trio. After a coupleof false starts, Motorhead burst on the scene with their eponymous debut lp in'77, with the classic lineup...Lemmy on bass and trademark croaking vocals,"Fast" Eddie Clark on guitar, and Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor on drums. Thisversion of the band lasted through five classic studio albums, culminating in'82's Iron Fist. When Clark left to form the band Fastway, Lemmyrecruited not one but two guitarists to replace him...Wurzel and Phil Campbell.Ten years later, Wurzel is gone (as is Taylor), and Campbell functions, much likeEddie Clark did in the old days, as the sole guitarist. This gives the '96version of Motorhead the same sort of "blues metal power trio" feel that theoriginal band had over twenty years ago.

Promoting their 13th studio record Sacrifice, Motorhead's packedshow at the Masquerade in Atlanta found the band in energetic form. You'd neverknow that Lemmy is now 50, an elder statesman of British hard rock. His trademarkgrowl has become a musical archetype, and Motorhead's "everything louder thaneverything else" philosophy doesn't seem to be at odds with Lemmy's advanced age.Plowing through material drawing from 10 of their albums, Motorhead exhibitedtons of high energy thrash for the eager Atlanta audience. Phil Campbell's guitarplaying ran the gamut from metal-shredding to bluesy, rockabilly laden solos.Motorhead's new/old trio formation, surprisingly, doesn't let the sound get thinat any point...while Campbell solos, Lemmy fills the rhythmic void with thick,wah-wah laden Rickenbacher bass chords. Lemmy's stint with Hawkwind (and thesubsequent two decades with Motorhead) provided him with an-above average senseof hard-rock bass chops. Thus his thick, textural approach to the instrumentprovides more diversity than the usual "synch up with the kick drum" philosophyof most metal bassists. New drummer Mickey Dee, who replaced Phil Taylor a fewyears ago, is pretty much (competently) treading the same rhythmic territory thatPhil laid out in the late 70's.

Opening with their most well known tune "Ace of Spades" (the title track fromtheir watershed 1980 lp), Lemmy and company ripped through twenty songs in nearly90 minutes of high-octane music. Only three songs from Sacrificewere featured, but one of them, "Sex and Death," was an early set highlight.Older songs like "Metropolis" sounded positively revitalized live; Campbell'sguitar antics are every bit as awe-inspiring in their frenetic lead/rhythm roleswitching as were Eddie Clark's in the early 80's. Lemmy seemed to enjoy his roleas "second guitarist"...his thick bass triads filled the space in the mix as well(and more inventively) than most "real" rhythm guitarists. All three members ofthe trio were in great spirits and seemed to really enjoy their own material,making it come alive for the audience. During the ballad "I Ain't No Nice Guy,"one wag in the crowded club spoofed arena rock audiences by holding a Bic lighteraloft during the tune. It's a testament to Motorhead's consistency that the newertunes blended well with older and middle period songs..."Sacrifice" rocks as hardas classics like "Bomber." Particularly impressive was the spooky version of"Orgasmatron"...bathed in sickly green light, Lemmy and the boys cranked out ademonic, scary mid-tempo rendition that both delighted and chilled me. EvenBrazillian metal gods Sepultura could not improve on Motorhead's original.

The encore segment was particularly powerful...after a brief and powerful "IronFist," the boys ended the show with an extended "Overkill." "Overkill" featured alengthy Lemmy feedback bass solo that reverberated throughout the dingy club. Ateeth-jarring end to an intense and enjoyable set...

Setlist (12:01-1:27):

Ace Of Spades
Sex and Death
I'm So Bad (Baby I Don't Care)
Over Your Shoulder
Metropolis
On Your Feet or On Your Knees
Stay Clean
Liar
Burner
The Chase is Better than the Catch
I Ain't No Nice Guy
Born to Raise Hell
Nothing Up My Sleeve
Orgasmatron
Sacrifice
Going To Brazil
Killed by Death Bomber

Encores:

Iron Fist Overkill


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