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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Motorhead Plays One Note for an Hour at the Warfield

Posted By on Thu, Feb 3, 2011 at 8:11 AM

click to enlarge Lemmy! - RICHARD HAICK
  • Richard Haick
  • Lemmy!
Motorhead
Clutch
Valient Thorr
February 2, 2011

Better than: People less inherently amusing than Lemmy Kilmister playing one note for an hour.

Okay, fine, so it wasn't just one note. There were two or three others thrown in there sometimes. A few meager attempts to spice up the roughly hour-long set that drew legions of black-clad and bearded Metal Dudes and their (black-clad and almost uniformly attractive) Metal Chicks to the Warfield last night. But Motorhead played one note in spirit. 

The note was Lemmy Kilmister, the only consistent member of this iconic heavy metal outfit, now as much an artifact in the museum of rock history as an organic, living thing. The note was a blistering tempo. It was the punching-in of some astoundingly basic power-chord progression. It was Lemmy growling incomprehensibly about gambling, dying, losing, fucking, and being more badass than you. It was the guitarist machine-gunning high-pitched notes for about 30 seconds two-thirds of the way through every song. It was the approximately 17-foot-tall riser upon which the double-kick drumset sat. It was also the thirty-minute drum solo that pounded down from said riser.

click to enlarge THE WORLD IS YOURS - RICHARD HAICK
  • Richard Haick
  • THE WORLD IS YOURS
To be sure, Motorhead is nothing if not consistent. It began the night with an old staple -- "Motorhead" -- and tore through its catalog all the way up to recent albums like Motorizer and this year's The World Is Yours. That's what Lemmy said, anyway. I'll have to take his word on it, because the hour sounded pretty much all the same to me. That is up until the very end, when the moment everyone was really waiting for -- "Ace of Spades," pretty much the only Motorhead song you must know -- was played.

click to enlarge The Welsh Wanker, aka, the only guy who got to move around at all onstage last night. - RICHARD HAICK
  • Richard Haick
  • The Welsh Wanker, aka, the only guy who got to move around at all onstage last night.
This explosion of badassery, what you might call the theme song of the band, its one true note, sent the room into a gigantic frenzy. The swirling mosh pit on the floor had rivaled the fixtured spectacle on stage for thrills all night, and with "Ace of Spades," it finally won over. The black-clad, now beery, hordes accelerated into a blur of gleeful violence. The pit swelled to encompass pretty much all of the front-floor area of the Warfield -- or at least all the parts from which you could see the stage. Everyone got too busy to bother holding up the crowd-surfers. Security threw out a bunch of the most mischievous moshers. It was pretty metal.

click to enlarge Clutch - RICHARD HAICK
  • Richard Haick
  • Clutch
Critic's Notebook

Random detail: One of the guitarist's two axes had a strap that read, "Welsh Wanker." What is it with Welsh people getting down on themselves all the time?

Babble: "Don't forget us, boys and girls," Lemmy implored, as if that were possible. "We are Motorhead. And we play fucking rock 'n' roll. (The whole time I thought this was a yacht rock concert.)

Goodnight, and thanks for the epilepsy: The strobe action during the encore's "Overkill" was way out of control.

Random notebook dump: "It's not metal unless the drums are up as high as Lemmy's head."

Highlight of the night: Everyone chanting along to "Killed By Death," the Motorhead fan's favorite Motorhead song.

Further reading: Not to get all crit-wanker on you (or state the obvious), but what Robert Christgau has to say about Motorhead is really worth reading.

click to enlarge Clutch - RICHARD HAICK
  • Richard Haick
  • Clutch
Openers: Caught the very end of Valient Thorr and, based on their crazed and shirtless frontman, immediately regretted not catching more. Clutch went on shortly after and came across like a less-interesting Godsmack, if that's possible. Many in the crowd loved it, though -- I was surprised how many were wearing Clutch hats and shirts. After a very long run of mid-tempo thudders, Clutch finally picked up the pace, stepped off the wah-wah, and got my head nodding toward the end of its set. Maybe the consistently fiery pit inspired them. 

click to enlarge RICHARD HAICK
  • Richard Haick
click to enlarge RICHARD HAICK
  • Richard Haick
click to enlarge RICHARD HAICK
  • Richard Haick
click to enlarge RICHARD HAICK
  • Richard Haick
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