Motorhead with special guests Clutch & Valient Thorr

Written by on April 21, 2011 in April 21, 2011, Live Reviews - Comments Off on Motorhead with special guests Clutch & Valient Thorr

Saturday, March 5th, 2011 at The Fillmore in Charlotte, NC

MotorheadAfter wading through the traffic to find parking near the venue, found my way through the sold-out, capacity crowd inside…  only to find we had missed the first opening act – Valient Thorr.  Had heard a bit about them and was curious to hear their unique classic metal sound I’d read about but it was not to be.   I would at least hear the singer later on – more about that to come.

So that explains why I was wondering how Clutch would be the first openers, considering their years of experience (had seen them open for Marilyn Manson years ago on the “Smells Like Children” club tour and they slammed back then as well).   Got in the photo pit to take some pictures up close and personal and got back into remembering their cool power-groove stylings quickly.   Loved their first album, particularly “Big News 1,” which I used to play in an earlier band myself.   These guys came out to a funky old school hip-hop intro tape and cranked it up to eleven.   Nothing overly flashy about their “look,” yet these everyday kinda dudes played proficiently and didn’t skip a beat.   Sounds like they played a bit from all eras of their career, but couldn’t honestly name specific songs – that’s the way their songs are – it’s like you like their SOUND overall, instead of individual songs per se.    Which is a good thing.

After the set change, Lemmy and crew strolled out on stage and plugged in and went straight to it, wailing through classics like “Stay Clean” and more, before asking the inevitable “who’s got the NEW Motorhead album?”  Aftr a rollicking show of hands and whoops from the manic audience, Lemmy and Phil joked about Phil’s mathmatics as he came up with a specific two hundred and something head count.  They played a few from the impressive “The World Is Yours” throughout the evening, but not 100% sure of all the titles as it was bludgeoningly LOUD, even with brand new earplugs.  Haha.   …and altho the new album was kinda fresh in my head from recently scanning through it again – it’s slight breakaway from the usual Motorhead sound with more melodies and catchy grooves are compelling – the titles hadn’t quite solidified themselves in my mind.   ..and did I mention it was so LOUD you couldn’t quite interpret all the broken English stage rap from Mr. Kilminster?

Speaking of Lemmy, he seemed a little tired from the road, maybe even on the verge of getting a little sick – not a hard thing to do as the weather changes like it has lately…  however, he didn’t let it affect the show at all – he belted out more classics and newer songs and interpolated with tongue-in-cheek humore throughout the night as he, Philip, and Mikkey Dee served up a heaping helping of the classic grungy, punky metal they are so well-known for.

Phil was all over the stage, shredding away on the six-string as Lemmy held down the groove doing double duty on rhythm bass, as I like to call it.   As a bass player myself, I quite enjoy his gritty tone.   Phil’s leads were spot-on and intense in every song and his solo moment in the spotlight later on was exciting and impressive as well.

MotorheadThe always rockin’ Mikkey Dee kept the beat solid and slammin’ throughout the night, only taking breaks time to time to stand up from behind the drum kit to rally the crowd into a fevered pitch, by getting them to clap their hands or pump their fists.   It’s a good thing he did that time to time tho, cause his kit was up so high and he, not being the tallest one in the band, was hard to see if at all unless he stood up.   Mostly it was a performance reminiscent of the one and only “Animal” from the Muppets, crossed with the Tasmanian Devil – a whirlwind of big hair, arms, and sticks was about all you could see.   I did manage to snatch one rare photo of Mr. Dee peering at me between his toms, as well as a chance meeting with him later on after the show.   Thanks, Mikkey!   I have always been a fan of his drumming expertise and his unique image ever since his days with King Diamond, and of course since his being a longtime mainstay in the Motorhead camp.

Back to the show, it was good to hear the excellent Motorizer album represented, especially with a personal favorite being played:   “Rock Out.”   Lemmy’s humor continued when he made a remark before doing another classic song (title eludes me) from 1983, “before most of the audience was even born.”   How true.   Amazing what a wide age range of fans were in attendance.

The crowd never let up, the beer flew in the air as much as the sweat as the solidly-packed throng swayed and grinded to song after song as the band continued their assault, mixing classic with newer songs throughout the night.   The crowd surfers rode along the top of the crowd in the pit and had their own kind of fun while others stood steady and banged their heads in unison to each and every groove.

“In The Name Of Tragedy” was another one the almighty Motorhead belted out and the fans approved with a rabid appreciation.   Which led into an electrifying drum solo, giving Mikkey Dee his moment in the spotlight.    Lemmy poked fun saying “drummers need love, too.”

One of the most exciting moments was hearing the classic “Just Cos’ You Got The Power” with it’s killer hypnotic groove ala Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” – not sure how often tey play that one live, but hadn’t heard it myself since the classic live album “No Sleep At All.”   (If you don’t have it, get it!)   …and it was funny because Lemmy had introduced the song as “here’s a SLOW one for ya!”   It was about as slow as they got all night.

As the dreaded ending of a rollicking evening loomed, the band raged into the classic “Killed By Death,” with special guest co-vocals from the singer of openers Valient Thorr.   Then of course, the set closer “Ace Of Spades” whipped the wet-with-sweat audience into a rabid tornado of bodies as their last chance to go wild for the almighty Motorhead.

As the amplifiers hummed and left all ears ringing, the band exited the stage leaving them hungry for more.    It didn’t take long and Lemmy, Phil, and Mikkey took the stage once more to rage into an encore of the driving signature classic “Overkill.”   They rocked it out, and did the usual “false ending,” going back into it with Mikkey’s killer double-bass assault time after time until they flet they had done all the damage they could.   The guys took their bows, tossed handfuls of picks and a couple of drumsticks and bid their throng adieu.

Later on, altho didn’t get to speak with Lemmy personally, his all-too-polite assistant “Al” made sure I walked away with a singature Lemmy guitar pick as well as a couple of items personally autographed.

Phillip was nowehere to be found, but actually did get an opportunity to shake the hand of drummer Mikkey Dee and snap a memorable photo with him to make the night complete.

Thanks to Motorhead for another evening of classic metal – thanks for bringing it close enough to home so the rest of us got to take it in.   Personally, hadn’t seen Motorhead but 2 other times and both of those were early daytime slots outside (Ozzfest and Metal Masters) so it was nice to see them inside in an intimate venue with the full lighting effect and getting the best of them as headliners.

If you get the chance, catch these guys while they’re still out and about doing it LIVE.   …and grab the new album as well – “The World Is Yours” is suprisingly fresh and melodic while not losing an ounce of the grittiness and tongue-in-cheek humor we’ve grown to know and love from the almight MOTORHEAD.  To quote Lemmy and the song…  “ROCK OUT!”

Photos & review by Barry “Beesty” Shelton
Musician / Photographer / Writer