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:: Motorhead ::
05 November 2006 / Apollo / Manchester
By Cath Aubergine

Somewhere in Greater Manchester, by simple statistics, there’s a Motorhead fan whose birthday falls on Bonfire Night. He (it’s probably a he; men outnumber women by about 20 to 1 in the Apollo tonight) probably can’t believe his good fortune – it’s 5th November and just like last year the hardest rocking rockbeasts of them all are in town. The Ardwick fireworks on the way down aren’t as heavy as last year’s – after all, it’s Sunday and most of the displays went off last night. The band make no such concessions – on planet Motorhead every night is Saturday night. “We are Motorhead and we play rock’n’roll!” announces Lemmy, as he probably does at every gig, then it’s all systems go.

And they rock like bastards, despite a combined age of about 300. The crowd know what they want. None of that Indie Rules snobbery where wearing the band’s T-shirt to the gig is uncool – the majority here wear various vintages of that insignia, a great British trademark so established it even ended up in Top Shop a couple of years back. The most hardcore have it tattooed. And they get what they’ve come for – 90 solid minutes of loud, fast and furious. Yeah, it comes in various flavours; there’s punk Motorhead shot through with the ghosts of lost Ramones, metal Motorhead with drummer Mikkey Lee’s blond mop flying all over his shiny million-piece kit, bluesy Motorhead complete with roadie holding a pint up to guitarist Philip Campbell’s lips mid-solo (Campbell also, rather impressively, has a pint holder built into his mic stand), and finally just pure full-blooded Motorhead come the encore. Lemmy – whom I’m sure should be English Heritage listed at the very least - appears to have stopped ageing round about the 50 mark and addresses the crowd rather politely (albeit with swearing) in between howling from the pit of Hell and thrashing his bass so hard you wonder if he needs special strings (and yes I do know how tough bass strings are – Lemmy’s tougher).

So there are few surprises in the set – the cover (Thin Lizzy’s “Rosalie”) is as Motorhead as their own material, most of which still has references to killing and death in the titles. At one point Lemmy and Campbell leave the stage to allow Dee an extended drum solo (which probably causes blips in any seismology labs within a hundred mile radius) then return wielding matching head-of-flame-shaped bass and guitar. “What time is it?” roars Lemmy “It’s muthafuckin’ rock’n’roll time!!!!” – not one other band on this Earth could pull off that particular sequence of events without looking like total twats. They reach the end of the set without having played That One or The Other One leaving no doubt as to what’s to come, and yes, the encore is identical to last year’s and probably every other gig they’ve played in between times. An acoustic “Whorehouse Blues” with Dee and Campbell sat on stools and full-on red lighting. The universally expected hit single “Ace Of Spades” which no matter how many times you’ve heard it is still the greatest punk-metal-blues-rock single ever, as a couple of thousand voices yell back “And don’t forget the Joker!” And finally a bone-crushing “Overkill”, with strobes firing left right and centre off their preposterously proportioned lighting rig, and about four explosive false endings. And as the hairy trio finally put down their instruments, link up and take a bow, it’s clear they know full well these days that what they’re doing is part pantomime – but the greatest rock’n’roll pantomime in the world. Same time next year then?


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