JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

March 8, 2011
Stubb's BBQ
Austin, TX USA
Review by Stacy Alexander-Evans
Photos by Christopher Durst

Motorhead

In the spring of 1983, I was fifteen years old when my mother dropped me off downtown at the now-obliterated Sam Houston Coliseum. The sun had yet to set, and my friend Laura and I were not alone in our resolve to storm the doors the moment they opened. While other little girls were decorating their school lockers with photos of Duran Duran, I quietly plotted to realize a singular goal which was now about to be met: hold court in the pit at a metal show. Although the band playing that night was not Motorhead, but fellow Brits Iron Maiden, the experience itself set the standard for a lifetime spent as a misfit mermaid - frolicking in a sea of testosterone.

Motorhead have become the stuff of legend. They are a popular draw in Austin , where last year's South by Southwest Film Festival hosted the world premier of Greg Oliver & Wes Orshoski's documentary Lemmy. With perhaps one exception - Black Sabbath - no other band can claim to have had such a seminal influence on modern metal. What's more, Motorhead's fast and chunky drum-driven wallop is as adored by punks as it is by metal heads. Nowhere can a band's range of influence be as obvious as standing in a crowd of over 2000 colorful people at a sold out show. In this case, the span of ages alone (4-70) at their show in Texas ' capitol on March 8th might only be rivaled by a traveling carnival.

Those pesky stage lights must have blinded iconic front man Lemmy Kilmister to this diversity. When the band launched into "I've Got Mine" mid-set, he snarled, "This is an old one...from 1983 - before you were born!" Although certainly the crowd was heavy with old-timers, this was no 70s or 80s-era class reunion. Scores of 20-somethings did what they do - held their phones in the air, a field of iPhone flower-blossoms, bent on capturing every moment and immediately posting to Facebook. "Can you hear it?!" Jake Gyllenhaal's doppelganger stood next to me and screamed into his phone, "It's Motorhead!"

The band's set list included both hits and sleepers, old and new - from "Ace of Spades" to "Metropolis"--and the youngsters in the crowd were not at all put off by Mickey Dee's indulgent drum solo. In fact, one is tempted to perceive their wild embrace as a distant signal that the excesses of arena rock are clawing their way back from farce to fashion. The presence of bodies in Motley Crue t-shirts is duly noted.

Although the theater of Motorhead 2011 lacked the monster-sized puppetry of Maiden's "Piece of Mind" tour, they rocked the old fog machine and brought intermittent moments of blinding Artaudian light-strobes sufficient to aggravate the senses. Still, Motorhead is not KISS and the fans were there for the music, rather than the spectacle. Specifically, they were there to have their heads pounded by Phil Campbell, the man Lemmy gave props to from the stage as "the most underrated guitarist in the fucking world!"

Not surprisingly, f-bombs fell from Kilmister's lips as profusely as droplets of Jack Daniels. Nothing and no one was safe - not the politicians he sneered away as "suits," not even his country's untouchable literary god, William Shakespeare, to whom he dedicated "In the Name of Tragedy." Would we have it any other way? Certainly not, for what is rock n' roll if not the marriage of the sacred to the profane? One final elongated note from Campbell 's guitar, and overdosed on feedback, 2000 people staggered into Austin 's Red River Street , eulogizing the art of the juggernaut.