Better Than: Whatever you were doing last night.
Last night, Lemmy Kilmister walked onstage of the Midland and said the same thing he says every night to open the show. It is the Zen koan of heavy metal.
"We are Motorhead," he meditated. "And we play rock and rolll!"
(Do you like that quote? I do. Here's another from another badass, Genghis Khan: "I turn to simplicity. I turn again to purity.")
Motorhead conquers because they are rock in its purest form. Rock and roll sounds like a simple task: Come out swinging. Give no one time to recover between songs. Don't fuck about with scales for 10 minutes when there's a power chord that will get the job done in three seconds. But how many bands lose their way? So many. You can't see the Ramones anymore, but you can still see Motorhead.
When Motorhead comes onstage, you can't even tell what year it is at first. Nothing ever changes. They're all still wearing the black-metal uniform. Lemmy's voice crosses the dry Sahara of his throat and comes out ragged. It's impossible to listen to any one member of the group, because the venue becomes so saturated with sonic power that the drums, guitar and bass become a single beast rolling in the mud.
The word "blistering" is thrown around a lot these days. Motorhead should know what the term means, considering that they figured out how to write the perfect song when the Earth actually cooled, and they haven't changed it since.
I had to review a Sting show once, when I was first beginning my career in journalism. (Yes, I was once told to review a Sting show, and I went along with it. I laid foundation at Auschwitz. I waited on the grassy knoll with a high-powered assault rifle.) You know what happened when Sting starting playing songs from his new album? Everyone left to go to the bathroom. Sting laughed and waved at them as they ran from him. That's not unusual; it happens a lot with older acts. Ah, but not Motorhead. How many bands in the fourth decade of their careers put out a new album and have the songs become permanent parts of the set list? Almost none. But when Lemmy hits the bass on "In the Name of Tragedy" or advises us that rocking out with our cocks will impress our lady friends, everyone listens.
This is rock to colonize your very soul.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I already got my Killswitch Engage tickets." "No one gives a fuck."
Critic's Notebook: To the fat drunk dude about 20 feet back from center stage: The lyrics to every Motorhead song are not "The Ace of Spaaaadeeesss! The Aaace of Spaadesah!" Please stop shouting them when they are not actually playing "Ace of Spades."
Set List: We Are Motorhead, Stay Clean, Get Back In line, Metropolis, Over the Top, One Night Stand, Rock Out, The Thousand Names of God, I Got Mine, I Know How to Die, The Chase is Better Than the Catch, In the Name of Tragedy, Just 'Cos You Got the Power, Going to Brazil, Killed By Death, Ace of Spades, Overkill.