Back on the Chain

Another year, another new album and another tour! The Motorhead bandwagon just keeps on rolling and will presumably only ever stop when Mr Kilmister pops his clogs (although even then I expect he’d find a way to carry on!). Tonight they return to the Apollo in Manchester, that in itself is no mean feat for a band that have gone in & out of favour with the populous like a yo-yo, that they continually manage to play one of the city’s bigger venues and fill it!

I must admit to having some reservations before tonight’s show, the set list hasn’t changed much for nearly 2 years now and I’m really hoping that they’ve mixed it up a bit. Early signs are good when they kick off with ‘Iron Fist’, complete with projections on either side of the stage, which show the cover of the album the song is from (which changes throughout the set, interspersed with stage footage). The following ‘Stay Clean’ and ‘Be My Baby’ take us back to the staple set and it’s beginning to look like they haven’t done that much tinkering. As usual the performance is spot on although downstairs the sound seems too loud for the pa system, during ‘Be My Baby’ it’s distorting horribly at the top end. The first of the new album tracks to get aired tonight is ‘Rockout’ and as you’d expect it slots effortlessly into the set and yet again confirms that recent material stands up well alongside the classics.

It’s back to the old set for the next few (’Metropolis’, ’Over the Top’ & ‘One Night Stand‘) and when they add the usual ‘loudest crowd of the tour’ antics it’s all very familiar and whilst you’d never call it boring it is a little frustrating. The majority of the crowd don’t seem to mind however and are in fine voice and just to show that it’s not all old man out in the audience there are a couple of younger guys crowd surfing at the front. I’ve never really understood why a band like Motorhead needs to do drum and guitar solo spots but they do and whilst Mickey Dee’s drumming is very impressive in the middle of ‘In the Name of Tragedy’, Phil Campbell’s guitar solo spot is nothing to write home about. The first surprise of the night comes with ‘Another Perfect Day’, a welcome change of song choice from the album of the same name and it goes down well.

Now I’m aware that this is in danger of coming over as one long whinge and whilst there are several issues to address it shouldn’t detract from the fact that if this was your first Motorhead gig you’d absolutely love it! It’s tight, raw, loud and bristling with aggression and energy. Lemmy just owns any stage that he’s on, he has the presence and command of the audience that comes from years of being out there and doing it. OK So the second half of the set includes the usual suspects (‘Born to Raise Hell’ aside) but these are the classics that you’d always want to hear at a Motorhead gig, ‘Killed By Death’, ‘Whorehouse Blues’, ‘Ace of Spades’ and the timeless ‘Overkill’ wrap it all up. Sure it’s time for a change and to mix it up but tonight is best viewed as the culmination of 3 or 4 years of real success for Motorhead that has put them firmly back on the map and we can’t wait to see what they do next.