Review by Ian Savage, photos by Rich Ward
From cameos on ‘The Young Ones’ to arena rock shows via thirty-odd years of sheer hard work and musical integrity; both of tonight’s main attractions have more than paid their dues and could, should they desire, pull out a couple of crowd-pleasing ‘greatest hits’ sets and count the money on the way to the next one.
It’s a pleasure to report that neither do. The Damned have thankfully abandoned the onstage back-lit projection screens of their last tour to let the music (and the NIA’s much more expansive lighting) do the talking, and from the off it seems that they’ve also left the more meandering keyboard-infused tunes of the back catalogue at home. They hammer through ‘Street Of Dreams’, ‘Nasty’ and ‘Love Song’ in short order (‘Nasty’ dedicated to Rik Mayall to enormous applause, the latter leaving keys player Monty Oxymoron little to do but dance around behind his instruments during the verses) to get the first few rows moving.
Captain Sensible’s hand-painted ‘Old Age Punk’ insignia on the back of his jacket reflects a good proportion of the crowd this evening: appreciative, yet mostly unwilling to fully let fly just yet. The band (possibly unwisely) slow things down mid-set, with Sensible noticeably unhappy with his onstage sound, before ‘Ignite’ blows the cobwebs back out again. ‘New Rose’ turns the screw further, and by ‘Neat Neat Neat’ this reviewer is thankfully retreating a little to be able to write as the stage-front punters finally start bouncing.
The tale of how Lemmy “saved The Damned” is trotted out, but it’s the “he’s a grizzled old bastard, but we love him” line which fully sums up everyone’s feelings towards the main man of this evening; Dave Vanian quickly leads his troupe of miscreants into closer ‘Smash It Up’ and the NIA’s standing section find their bite point. Not much more than nostalgia, but a worthy warm-up.
A swift, raspy “Good evening, we are Motorhead” receives more in crowd response than The Damned managed in forty-five minutes; it’s very obvious who people are here for tonight. Glory-days opener ‘Shoot You In The Back’ gets the faithful moving, before the full-bore classic riffage of ‘Stay Clean’ combines with a frankly superb light show to underline just why rock fans still come out for this outfit.
There’s a few curve-balls thrown alongside stalwarts like ‘Damage Case’ and ‘Metropolis’; tonight has a feel of Lemmy airing a few album tunes he’s personally proud of rather than battering through ‘Bomber’ for the thousandth time. ‘Over The Top’, ‘Rock It’, ‘Suicide’ (“you liked that one? Ah, you hated it back then!”); all are warmly welcomed, and there’s a feel of an old-school set for the die-hards, especially considering the strength of latest LP Aftershock. ‘Lonely Woman Blues’ from that opus makes an appearance, but it sadly prompts more customers at the bar than punters at the barrier, raising the question of why pile-drivers like ‘Heartbreaker’ or ‘Going To Mexico’ weren’t favoured with a spot instead.
There are, of course, the prerequisite arena-rock guitar and drum solo spots; almost all present are aware that Lemmy will be resting his legs rather than doing lines from a hooker’s tits during Phil and Mikkey’s meanderings. It could be said that Motorhead are a band past their time – until ‘Going To Brazil’ runs into ‘Killed By Death’ and almost a thousand people are chanting a chorus led by a man who’s nearly seventy.
‘Classic’ Motorhead veterans Eddie Clark and Phil Taylor are bought out from the wings to rapturous applause…and what other song are they likely to play from there? The former joins the band on guitar for ‘Ace Of Spades’; the NIA goes mental, and the encore of ‘Overkill’ is anything but. They’re finished by half past ten; the whole evening has a feeling of one for the time-served who need to get to bed by midnight rather than the new blood, but the first-time youngsters are seeking a pub for last orders just as sweat-soaked and battered as the old-age punks. The Rolling Stones don’t put on shows like this.