Tag Archives: Motörhead

Year in Review – Gigs (and which were the best?)

Well, December is almost over and it’s time to dig through the reviews and see what I reckoned was the live musical high-point of the year. And it’s bloody hard, believe me. If you just want to skip down to the bit where I try to make my mind up, scroll down until you see the headline. Otherwise, let me take you on a quick run-down…

First gig was Reel Big Fish at the Garage (and they’re touring again in early 2013). Having never seen them before, I was very pleasantly surprised with an excellent atmosphere and a ton of fun!

Biohazard made a welcome return in February, playing a crushing set at King Tut’s, but the highlight of their gig was touring support Heights. Definitely ones to watch out for.

Alestorm drowned the Garage in rum a week later and also supported Dragonforce in September (for those who got to the ABC in time to see their ridiculously early slot).

Less than a week after that and a tremendous two-header hit the Academy with soon-to-be-fecking-huge Halestorm opening for the brilliant Shinedown. Both bands reappeared later in the year, with Shinedown headlining the HMV Picturehouse on Hallowe’en and Halestorm upgrading from the Cathouse to the Garage (which then sold out) due to phenomenal demand.

The first let-down of the year was Theory of a Deadman. Not the band themselves, but the truly awful sound at the Queen Margaret Union building. One I’ll be avoiding in future, though I’ll certainly give the Canadian rockers another chance if they play elsewhere in future.

February drew to a leap-year close with Rammstein at the Newcastle Arena. Not so much a gig as a spectacle, and something that any band would be hard-pushed to beat. They’re headlining Download this year and if you’ve not seen them then they’re worth the ticket price alone.

Another ridiculous (and unannounced) change to the door times meant that I missed the two openers for Cannibal Corpse at the ABC, but did get to see most of Triptycon’s set. Corpse, however, played a drastically shortened set in part due to now knowing they had to be off-stage at 10pm for the student night to take place.

March ended at a blistering pace with three cracking gigs in the space of a week. Black Stone Cherry rocked the Academy, Bowling For Soup (and People on Vacation) had us entertained and laughing along at the Oran Mor with their acoustic tour and Steel Panther taught us all The Shocker at the Academy (a few months after stealing the show from Def Leppard and Motley Crue at the SECC). Hard-working as they are, they were back in Scotland soon after with a show in Edinburgh.

Into April and two very contrasting styles of music in a fairly fallow month for me. First up, an unadulterated party atmosphere lifted the Garage when Andrew W.K. came the play. Barely a week later and Paradise Lost angled more for the doom end of the scale in a wonderfully downbeat performance at King Tut’s.

My only gig in May was to see the delightfully ridiculous Tragedy with their tie-dyed, glitter-encrusted Bee Gees cover extravaganza at the ABC2. Only a few days after the sad passing of Robin Gibb, I doubt he could have been more proud of the send-off this group of fans gave him.

Halfway into the year as June finished and two gigs that month. Sacred Reich with their first Scottish date in eighteen years as they tore up the Wah Wah Hut; and a slight departure for me as I sampled Combichrist at The Arches with their dance-infused metal.

And then… a breather. July and August passed gig-free despite us staying in the country. Virtually every major band was heading to play the festivals which we couldn’t attend due to work and family commitments. On the other hand, we saved some cash.

We made up for it in September with no fewer than five concerts. The Darkness were touring the UK with Lady Gaga (I know, WTF?) but as the tour wasn’t hitting Scotland they opted to play a one-off headlining show with long-standing local favourites Gun at the ABC.

Three gigs in three nights saw me at the Cathouse (Dying Fetus, Job For A Cowboy, Revocation and Cerebral Bore), Edinburgh PlayHouse (W.A.S.P.’s 30th anniversary tour) and the Garage for the aforementioned sell-out Halestorm show.

Another previously mentioned gig ended the month as Dragonforce and Alestorm formed a perfect partnership at the ABC.

October could have been the busiest month of the year gig-wise. We still did very well, but missed no fewer than five gigs. The first one we had to skip was Soulfly as it clashed with Nickelback at the Newcastle Arena and we got tickets to see Chad and co. before those for Max’s project were announced. The Canadian guys were good – very good – but Soulfly would have been much cheaper and closer to home!

Nickelback became the last gig I went to with my fiancée as we skipped Bowling For Soup, Trivium, Muse and Terrorvision to jet off to Jamaica with the family and get married! I did try tweeting most of the bands, but they didn’t reply as to the possibility of shifting their gig dates. Pah.

Our first gig as a married couple was a second performance this year by Shinedown in Edinburgh (mentioned back at the top). A big crowd despite playing on the same night and less than 2 minutes walk away from Alice Cooper’s seemingly annual Scottish show.

The second-last month of the year equalled the second as November joined February in hosting six gigs. Sabaton / Eluvetie at the Garage opened the month for me with an interesting combination and more people on one small stage than I’ve seen since Lawnmower Deth allowed stage-diving at the Newcastle Riverside. We then had the choice between Motorhead’s annual gig at the Academy or going to see Steel Panther again, this time in Edinburgh. There was no decision to be made as soon as we saw Lemmy’s support band – the mighty Anthrax. Glasgow it was.

Two nights later I headed to the Cathouse for the Metal Hammer Razor Tour II  featuring Steak Number 8 (missed them, sorry), Heart of a Coward, Heights (again) and Devil Sold His Soul. I love cheap gigs like this featuring relative unknowns and this was a prime example. All of the bands on here should do well though, again, Heights stole the show for me like they did in February opening for Biohazard.

Turbonegro brought their brand of death-core-punk to King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut towards the end of the month and impressed, while legendary Thrash-meisters Testament made a triumphant return to these shores after far too long. They destroyed the Garage with a mixture of old material and stuff from their superb latest album. Barely pausing to draw breath, I was at the SECC the following night to see the Twins of Evil tour. Marilyn Manson put on a decent enough theatrical performance while Rob Zombie deservedly played the “headlining” position of this equal-footed billing.

The year drew to a close with a hugely anticipated comeback tour from the Little Angels who rocked the ABC as if they’d never been away these last twenty years. Just under a week later and Fear Factory gave me a birthday present consisting of an hour-long set at the same venue in support to the Devin Townsend Project.

SO – GIG OF THE YEAR?

Bloody hell. That’s a tough question. At a rough count, there are 39 bands in contention (including some of the support acts) for the top performance. Hell, there are some I’ve not even mentioned such as Deathstars who opened for Rammstein. Not in contention, but deserving of a mention. As are Lionheart (Biohazard), The Treatment (Steel Panther), Insomnium (Paradise Lost), Skin (Little Angels)…

So let’s just hand out some awards based on certain performances. That’s fair. After all, what small band – no matter how talented – could expect to play a 200-capacity venue and compete with the:

Most Spectacular Gig

Easy winner – Rammstein at the Newcastle Arena. At £50 plus fees plus travel expenses, not a cheap ticket but worth every penny as you could see where your cash was going. Superb songs wrapped in probably the best showmanship in metal these days (Iron Maiden at a festival are about the only band that come close) and I doubt a single person that night left the venue feeling ripped off. My only disappointment is that it’s still the only gig I’ve ever been to that I don’t have my ticket as a souvenir. Stupid floor policy of taking your ticket off you!

Best Atmosphere At A Gig

Quite a tricky one as there are different atmospheres. The expectation at the Testament gig after their long absence. Similar with the Little Angels. Reel Big Fish, of course. The boos rained upon Turbonegro as they chose to play an England football song before they came on stage in Glasgow. Tragedy, who could have been playing to thousands, not just the couple of dozen who showed up (shame one you – see them next time). But, no. As with Rammstein above, there’s only one streets-ahead winner of this award: Andrew W.K. at the Glasgow Garage, who put on as big a party as he promises in his Twitter feed day after day – using nothing but the power of short, silly, punchy rock anthems. A man who can talk the talk, walk the walk and rock the rock.

Best Comeback Gig

A surprising number of entrants this year (and many more who I didn’t go to see, sadly). Some just haven’t toured the UK, some have actually been split up for years and reformed recently. In the running, we have:

  • Biohazard
  • Little Angels
  • Testament
  • Sacred Reich

Bloody hard to decide with this one. Really hard. My heart says Little Angels because of the fact I saw their last ever gig before they split. My heavier side (and the bruises) say Testament. My “support the underdog” mentality says Sacred Reich. My surprise at having a guitarist standing my shoulder during the first song says Biohazard.

The heart wins. Little Angels at the ABC take the prize, partly as I’ve seen Testament and Sacred Reich at Graspop in more recent years.

Best Support Act

Let’s not forget those poor sods who often get ignored (or worse) trying to warm you up for the headliners. This year, there were some great bands – many of them listed at the top of this section. The winner will come as no surprise, but special mentions to Halestorm – headliners in their own right, frankly, but still touring as a support band in 2013 – and Anthrax, who for some reason haven’t done a UK headlining tour in far too long.

Heights for two gigs – Biohazard and the Metal Hammer Razor Tour II. They’re back in Glasgow again in February, if I recall correctly. And main support again. Keep up the hard word guys, and here’s hoping we get ninety minutes from you in the years to come.

Best Sound At  A Gig

Now this one is a toughie. Some of the venues can be hit and miss with sound (ABC), some are usually crap but somehow pull a blinder once in a while (Academy), some are just awful (Queen Margaret Union, Cathouse) and some have the advantage of being huge (SECC). Winner this year? Bowling For Soup (Acoustic) at the Oran Mor for being just right. Maybe it’s easier as the volume doesn’t need to be cranked, but we could hear every note being strummed.

I’ll leave the awards there for this year. Next year will be a little quieter gig-wise  as I’m changing to a part time job with the equivalent drop in pay. Unless someone wants to sponsor me buy buying tickets or guest-listing me…?

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Motorhead / Anthrax – Glasgow O2 Academy

Motorhead
Motorhead (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

[Full sets of pics on Flickr: Anthrax / Motorhead]

Another year, another Motorhead gig. They seem to play on a regular basis like Status Quo and Bowling For Soup, but this time they brought one of my favourite bands with them – New York thrash-masters Anthrax.

Oh, and openers Diaries of a Hero. We caught about five minutes of them due to Gillian’s requirement for sustenance, but what little we saw seemed OK. Nothing special, but worth a listen.

Always seeming to be the little cousin in relation to the remainder of the “Big 4” thrash bands (Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica), Anthrax have always topped my list especially when it comes to live performances. While the others are brutal (Slayer), technically impressive (Megadeth, back in the day) or overblown (Metallica), Anthrax have always just been plain good fun.

Judging from the size of the crowd crammed in for their 8:15-ish start, a fair number had made the effort to catch them and they weren’t to be disappointed. Well, except for the fact that they weren’t headlining so only had the chance to play a handful of songs. With around 45 minutes to fill in the support slot (it may have been longer, but the time simply flew), they managed to cover a fair amount of their history from the likes of “Madhouse” to “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t” from current album Worship Music.

Anthrax
Anthrax (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

“Antisocial” had the crowd punching the air, “Indians” kicked the pit off into the traditional war dance, “Got The Time” rattled by at a rate of knots and the short set was tied up with classic Judge Dredd ballad “I Am The Law”.

Frankly, I’m getting too old for this shit so a short set was probably the best thing for my physically. I was near collapse by the time the last shouts of “I… Am… The… LAAAAAAAAWWWWW!!!” petered out, but I would have happily run myself into the ground for another eight songs. A brilliant set from a brilliant band whose only issue seems to be an unwillingness to commit to a full UK headlining tour.

Headliners tonight, though, were the long-running Motorhead. Lemmy and co wandered onto the stage calm as you like and unleashed an impressive set with seemingly no effort at all. I’m not a huge fan and, in all honesty, if Anthrax hadn’t been on the bill I’d not have bothered with tickets but there’s nothing wrong with ninety minutes of classic heavy rock’n’roll.

Motorhead
Motorhead (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

We ended up moving right to the back of the venue near the doors. Partly for easy access to the bar and partly because the sound in the Academy is shit. The songs were actually almost audible near the exits. A shame for such a popular music venue when the key reason for its being is one of its weakest points.

Nevertheless, with a set encompassing the liked of “The One To Sing The Blues“, “Killed By Death“, “Ace of Spades” and “Overkill” I don’t think any of the die-hards left unsatisfied.

Now, Anthrax – about that headlining tour… GET IT SORTED!

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Motorhead – Glasgow Academy

Motorhead - Glasgow Academy
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

[More photos in this Flickr set]

“We are Motorhead… and we play rock and fucking roll!”

Thus sayeth Lemmy, a true metal god as the band introduce their last song of the evening. And bloody hell, do they.

Surprisingly I’ve only seen Motorhead once before, in a tent at Download a few years ago, and the Academy is a great venue to see any band (despite the slightly muddy sound that seems to be a side effect of the acoustics). The huge crowd was already ramming the place when we arrived partway through the Anti-Nowhere League‘s set. They were great and certainly had a number of their own followers in place for their support slot. UK Subs had opened, but we missed them unfortunately.

At half nine, the lights went down and the cheers went up as Lemmy, Phil and Mikkey took to the stage kicking off their set with “Bomber”. Little pockets of the crowd just started bouncing around and the front went obviously mental.

I have to say, looking around, it was nice to be at a gig where my age fit fairly well into the median. I’m used to being the old bastard who stands out… However, after a solid week of ploughing through Sons of Anarchy episodes, Gillian’s view of bikers has been dismissed as sad leather-clad fantasy now she’s been faced with a hall full of the real thing.

Motorhead - Glasgow Academy
Image by Iain Purdie via Flickr

As with quite a few of the gigs I go to, I’m no long-standing full-on fan of the headliners but I still recognised more than a handful of songs as the band played through more than a couple of classics. “Killed By Death“, “Orgasmatron” (still the best cover Sepultura ever did), “The One To Sing The Blues“, and new track “Back In Line” were well received as were the rest of the 90-minute set.

Even the drum and guitar solos went down well. Mikkey Dee gurns and mugs his way through the set in much the same way as Maiden’s crowd favourite Nicko – and joins the other two guys on acoustic guitar for one song (sorry – fans will know the track name). Phil Campbell was the most mobile of the three, ripping up a spotlit solo a little over halfway through the concert.

And then, right towards the end, and with no introduction… “Ace of Spades”. Like “Cowboys From Hell”, this is a song that – as soon as you recognise the opening notes – causes hairs to rise and skin to tingle when you hear it live.

A simple set – lights and a bit of smoke – coupled with some great songs and the crowd in their hands let Motorhead look like they could do this forever. I hope they do.

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