Motorhead, Anthrax & Diaries of a Hero – Glasgow O2 Academy – 09/11/12
I first caught Motorhead live in 2010 at the Aberdeen Exhibition Centre and I reviewed the gig on this very site. I hate looking back at that review, it’s so negative when I normally try and draw out positives from gigs where possible. Unfortunately, that gig was marred for me before it even took place; when I purchased the tickets it was taking place at the Music Hall and was subsequently moved to the AECC. This pissed me off somewhat, as I have attended very few gigs at the venue that had decent sound and looking back I arrived at the gig with low expectations. Things didn’t improve when both of the support acts failed to impress in any way. Finally, I had singularly failed to take stock of just how much material they had released over the years since the dissolution of the Lemmy/Eddie/Philthy line-up that produced the material that represented my Motorhead collection, meaning I was only familiar with material from approximately the first quarter of their career and was some 15 or so albums behind the times. After being faced with the predictably awful sound, unimpressive supports and unfamiliarity with the set-list, my night ended in disappointment and the thought that I would not bother going to see them again.
However, fast forward 2 years and in the intervening period a couple of things have happened. I started adding to my Motorhead collection, initially from much frequented 2nd hand CD sections and charity shops before tracking down missing items on Amazon and such-like. I found that other than a few ropey moments (a baffling, ghastly cover of the Sex Pistols’ ‘God Save the Queen’ being a particular low point), there was much to enjoy and the newer material, in many cases, had far better production values and overall power than the old material I had previously confined myself to. The other main thing to happen was watching the superb documentary ‘Lemmy’. Setting the band aside, I have long admired Lemmy as a person for his steadfast refusal to deviate from his chosen path in terms of the music he makes and the person he is and if you haven’t seen the film I highly recommend it. The live footage contained within it had me revise my previous thought to not bother seeing them again, although the proviso in my mind was that a different venue would be key.
When I spotted this gig advertised I was immediately decided by the added attraction of Anthrax being in support, however I had a minor setback with obtaining tickets, as by the time I got around to deciding to attend and roping in my younger brother to accompany me, the gig had sold out. My brother found a couple of tickets at a reasonable cost on one of these re-selling sites, which I normally loathe but needs must and all that. Tickets were unreserved seating for the balcony area, which didn’t really bother me – as I’ve gotten older I actually kind of like seated gigs.
As usual, we decided to take a train down to save the hassle of driving and ended up seated next to a couple of older ladies from Aberdeen who enquired what we were up to and on finding we were travelling to a gig started to regale us with talks of the acts they liked in their younger days. Classic moment was when one of them just casually tossed out “Aye, I saw The Beatles live, they were nae affa good”…and there was also a claim for the original Mickey Newbury version of ‘American Trilogy’ being superior to Elvis’ more familiar take. Old ladies on trains as keen music critics, didn’t really expect this but it was entertaining at least.
We made our way to the Academy for a shade after opening time to try and ensure we got some semi-decent seats and found a queue snaking down the side of the venue. It didn’t take too long to get in but we then faced a further queue to get up to the balcony and by the time we negotiated this and obtained a beer at the bar en route we missed most of first support Diaries of a Hero’s set. From what I caught it seemed like pretty generic metal that didn’t really grab my attention but I’m finding more and more that venues have the early supports on close to doors opening and it’s a bit annoying when the efficiency of gaining entry doesn’t match up to this policy.
Back in the 80’s I wasn’t much of a metal fan at all, and my initial attraction to Anthrax was via the Judge Dredd-themed ‘I Am the Law’ single. I really liked their key albums of the time (‘Spreading the Disease’, ‘Among the Living’, ‘State of Euphoria’ and ‘Persistence of Time’) but they kind of fell off my radar when Joey Belladonna, who was singer for those albums, departed. They appear to have kept going intermittently with a variety of singers but Belladonna has now returned and they have released a new album, ‘Worship Music’. The set was largely drawn from ‘Among the Living’, ‘Persistence of Time’ and ‘Spreading the Disease’, with a couple of songs from the latest album. They didn’t mess around and fired straight into ‘Caught in a Mosh’, one of their key tracks from the 80’s period. ‘Indians’ has always been one of my favourite songs of theirs so I was pleased to hear the tribal drums and lead guitar line that signalled its arrival. ‘Antisocial’ and Joe Jackson cover ‘Got the Time’ passed by before the set closed with the inevitable ‘I Am the Law’, which still sounds immense. I haven’t yet seen the latest attempt at a Dredd film but if they didn’t utilise an instrumental version of this song to usher in some carnage they missed a trick.
Motorhead ambled on stage with a slightly shabby ‘The World Is Yours’ banner on the drum riser; this was the album released when I saw them last time out so it’s been getting toured for 2 years now, although only opening song ‘I Know How to Die’ made an appearance from that album. It was somewhat ironic that the set list contained a lot of older material that I would have been more familiar with last time out. ‘Damage Case’, ‘Stay Clean’ and ‘Metropolis’ from ‘Overkill’ fired out in quick succession while ‘The Chase is Better Than the Catch’ from ‘Ace of Spades’ also made an appearance mid-set. While the gig started quieter than I expected given their fearsome (and proudly upheld) reputation for volume, the levels seemed to steadily increase as the night progressed and to be honest I was glad I had a decent distance between me and the amps; it was already pretty loud when Lemmy started tweaking his amp knobs at one stage but having said that, the result wasn’t an uncomfortable sound as I have experienced at other gigs but rather the bass, guitar and drums meshed into a huge wall of low frequency sound. The slightly odd ‘Orgasmatron’ received a run through before ‘The One to Sing the Blues’ signalled the obligatory drum solo, which I could still do without but it was mercifully pretty short. The rock and roll vibe of ‘Going to Brazil’ was a highlight and Whitfield Crane from Ugly Kid Joe put in a slightly superfluous appearance for vocal support on ‘Killed by Death’, as his contribution was lost to my ears anyway. The end of the main set saw the familiar bass rumble of ‘Ace of Spades’ kick in and it’s one of those songs that despite having heard it hundreds of times I will never tire of, just perfection. The encore started with a Thin Lizzy cover, ‘Are You Ready’, before the double bass drum roll and bass crunch intro of ‘Overkill’ marked the end of the gig with the false endings keeping the crowd roaring and Lemmy of course pretending to shoot us with his bass.
A very enjoyable gig and I will definitely be heading to see them again, assuming of course that Lemmy does indeed live up to expectation and keep Motorhead going until he drops…
Words from Godzilla Blues.
Diaries of a Hero Website