British metal legends Motorhead came to a sad end at Christmas 2015 when founder Lemmy died. The band were supporting their latest album ‘Bad Magic’ and had already had to cancel or cut short some shows due to Lemmy’s ill health; 50 years of rock’n’roll and hard living finally caught up with him and Ian Fraser ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister died on 28 December 2015. The world lost a legend, a character and one of the greatest metal musicians ever.
This live album was recorded in Munich, Germany in November 2015, which were, as it unfortunately transpired, Motorhead’s last officially recorded shows. And what a package it is too!
Lemmy had started out as a roadie (including The Nice and Jimi Hendrix) before forging a career as a rhythm guitarist, including for The Rocking Vicars. He found fame when he switched to bass when he joined Hawkwind in the early 70s, singing and playing on their hit single Silver Machine. Playing on several classic albums, including Warriors On The Edge Of Time. Sacked from the band for his drug taking (as if the band weren’t doing enough as it was), he formed Bastard in 1975, a band soon renamed Motorhead after the last song he wrote and recorded with Hawkwind (it was a single b-side). And, in case you didn’t know, it means ‘Speed Freak’. And that’s not velocity. Motorhead played a fast and heavy metal, with blues and rock’n’roll undertones, it was ground breaking as much influential as genre defining.
A few line-up changes (including Lucas Fox and Larry Wallis) and their debut On Parole shelved by United Artists (released a couple of years later) saw their second debut released on Chiswick, a rough metal album that mixed rock’n’roll and punk (a sound encompassing both scenes and confusing record labels), it was when Motorhead signed to Bronze that success started to come. With drummer Phil ‘Animal’ Taylor and guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke, the albums ‘Bomber’ and ‘Overkill’ (in each case, notably the title track) saw a surge of interest and a nod to chart success. However it was 1980’s ‘Ace Of Spades’ and the following live album No Sleep ‘Till Hammersmith that saw the band top the charts and reach a much wider audience. Collaborations with both Girlschool and Wendy O’Williams found more acclaim but a waning interest, as equally the album ‘Another Perfect Day’ featuring Thin Lizzy’s Brian Robertson join the band. All change for the defining compilation ‘No Remorse’, with new tracks recorded by the new 4 piece (drummer Pete Gill and guitarists Phil Campbell and Wurzel).
Motorhead continued to release acclaimed albums (including Orgasmatron, and I’ve always loved ‘1916’ and ‘March Or Die’ regardless of what critics say). Since the mid 90s Motorhead have been back to a trio, with guitarist Campbell and drummer Mickey Dee (King Diamond). Lemmy’s vocals have shifted from the hypnotic of his Hawkwind to a rock’n’roll growl, his bass style that of a rhythm guitarist, bolstering the trio’s sound, and many a Motorhead album had done well up to the latest ‘Bad Magic’.
The live show here sees the band open with the classic Bomber, a great catchy track, which sees the band on instant good form. If you are new to Motorhead, the video shows you just how much of the sound comes from Lemmy’s bass, often including the main riff, allowing the guitarist to either augment or solo over the top. Metropolis another early track, kicking off giving the crowd exactly what they want. From the latest opus comes ‘When The Sky Comes Looking For You’ to the chant of “Lemmy Lemmy Lemmy…”. This is an uptempo boogie metal track and it fits in well.
‘Over The Top’ is a bit of a thrash that gets the mosh pit going. A guitar solo leads into ‘The Chase Is Better Than The Catch’. After Shock’s ‘Lost Woman Blues’ is another newer number that is mid paced, well, slow by Motorhead’s standards. Surprise inclusion is ‘Rock It’ and when Lemmy introduces it as from ‘Another Perfect Day’, his response to the cheer is “you didn’t buy it then, did you”. His sense of humour never dulled. Next up a personal fave, ‘Orgasmatron’, which is about as heavy as Motorhead ever got. This bowel rumbler is as gruff as it is hypnotic and solid as ever. Doctor Rock, from the same album, is metal rock’n’roll at its best and dedicated to Philthy Animal Taylor, who’d died the week before. This song will get you moving, head nodding at the very least.
‘Just Cos You Got The Power’ and No Class’ (introduced as “another oldie but mouldy”) and there’s some seriously good rock here. The main set closes with ‘The Ace Of Spades’ one of the most notably, memorable, iconic and defining heavy metal singles by anyone, ever. Always a crowd pleaser and rightly so.
Back onstage for the encore and the “Blues Delta Phase” as Lemmy puts it, for Whorehouse Blues; showing Lemmy’s roots that should have been explored more. An uptempo acoustic number (with Dee on guitar too!!!), and a bassless Lemster giving a parp on his harmonica, this is one track to go back to. The set finishes with Overkill. For that was Motorhead for you, and if the set wasn’t good enough for you, this is high by anyone’s standards.
Performance wise Micky Dee and Phil Campbell are all over this; but this is what pains me; as much as Lemmy plays and sounds great, the close up shots, he does look tired. It’s obvious he was not in the best of health. Playing wise he was at his best though, he rocked right until the end. Both Campbell and Lemmy talk to the crowd, Mickey Dee standing behind the drum kit waving his hands to get the crowd going, this band are a good live draw and rightfully so.
And whatever Motorhead have been through, ups and downs, line-up and label changes, unchanging setlists, you have to admire the fanbase, as passionate as loyal.
This package, in the same vein as what UDR did with Saxon’s Battering Ram, is to say the least the complete dogs bollocks. In the box is a gatefold coloured vinyl 2LP, a CD and DVD in a gatefold pop up card sleeve (innersleeves, booklet, slipcase), a Blu-ray (as with the DVD, with bonus material) and a Motorhead pin. Other versions are available.
So apart any desire for more music (scope for 2 shows or more), this is it, close enough to the perfect final word and a perfect representation of the band’s last officially recorded show. Heavy metal, a bit of blues, hard rock, speed and a lot of Jack Daniels, Motorhead were rock’n’roll right to the very end. 9/10