Motorhead/Clutch/Valient Thorr, 3/1/11, House of Blues, Boston
Band Photo: Motorhead (?)
I’ve seen literally hundreds of shows in my life and for the past decade or so, there’s been one band on my concert bucket list that I somehow had never managed to see: Motorhead.
That all ended when Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee invaded Boston this week and it would be the understatement of a lifetime to say it was more than worth the wait.
These three have been playing together since 1985 and to call them “tight” is like saying Sydney Crosby is a good ice skater. They play as one and their raw chemistry defies words.
When Lemmy emerged onto the dimly-lit House of Blues stage in his trademark black cowboy hat and offered: “We are Motorhead and we play rock ‘n roll,” he wasn’t screwing around. The guy is all business and is easily one of the most captivating, intense and all-around entertaining frontmen in the history of rock.
Ageless is another term that comes to mind. Lemmy and company sounded every bit the same fiery band they were in their heyday. Their encore of “Overkill” was as eardrum-splittingly loud and perfectly slamming as can be heard on the vintage 1978 record “Live at the Roundhouse” (which is a killer live bootleg if you don’t have it).
The classics – “Stay Clean,” “Killed by Death” and of course, “Ace of Spades” – sounded as precise and furiously potent as ever. New songs "Get Back in Line" and "I Know How to Die" had dark vigor and showcased Lemmy’s trademarked blues-metal growl and fuzz bass assault. Campbell and Dee, as they’ve done for three decades, rounded out the barely-restrained chaos, straddling the fine line between boozy, reckless bar band and high-octane power trio.
Openers Clutch and Valient Thorr held up their ends of the deal and proudly displayed the influence of Lemmy and company.
Valient Thorr frontman Valient Himself, shirtless and in skinny jeans, led the North Carolina-bred road warriors through a tight, six-song set of punk-infused heavy metal highlighted by “Heatseeker” and the scorching “Infinite Lives.” He and his mates certainly did Motorhead proud and by the end of their set had the venue’s packed crowd of bikers and old school headbangers fist-pumping along.
Maryland’s Clutch kept things grooving with an hour of the sludgy grind the band has been perfecting for nearly two decades. The quirky punk edge of “Texan Book of the Dead” took on an even darker vibe in the setting while “Profits of Doom” and “Pure Rock Fury” lived up to their self-descriptive titles.
Both acts had the crowd brimming with anticipation by the time Lemmy arrived for his primal sonic attack.
It was surely a spectacle to behold and I’m thanking the metal gods I was finally able to be there to witness it in all its majesty.
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