@ St. Georges Hall, Bradford
Tonight St. Georges Hall has been transformed into a rockers’ boudoir. All sorts of folks are cramming the bars, denimed, leathered, bearded and balding, balding, mulletted; all decked out in the right regalia – Motorhead T-shirts, Hawkwind T-shirts, black T-shirts with other British bands from Iron-on Maiden to Oasis. The announcement comes soon and reminds us that this isn’t a beery rock hall, no – this is where I saw Ken Dodd and his Diddymen strut their stuff. “Ladies and Gentlemen, please take your seats as this evening’s performance is about to continue”. Rock and roll!
The stage is spare, the band of three spread across it, clad in drainpaipes and cowboy boots. They have an old-school light rig – bigger than the sound set up. Lemmy has his mic set high as normal so he can strain up into it, thrumming his bass guitar. The drums are busy and fill every space. Phil’s guitar makes up for Lemmy’s immobility by running about, posing with his foot up on the monitors. No fancy solos from the lead guitar and just a little chat from the Lemster – the focus is on short speedy songs. The default sound is a churning guitar atop boiling drums and Lemmy voicing some lyric like ‘Sword Of Glory’ (hmmmm, and what exactly are you referring to, Lemmy?). Sadly, there are a lot of newer songs. It’s good when a band isn’t locked to the past, it’s just that their recent material just hasn’t been all that good….. There are still a stack of old favourites and a cover of Thin Lizzy’s Rosalee. Sacrifice gives an excuse for a drum solo long enough for the rest of the band to leave the stage for a sit down or some stimulants. Mikkey Dee combines holding down a backbeat with speedy Moon-like flailing – it’s an art.
There is a man leaning on the balcony rail, stood up, arms spread wide, singing hard. Sadly, you’re not allowed to fall from the balcony and after a few attempts at sitting him down, he is carried out squirming, held still by eight security guards. None of the rest of us in the balcony get to stand up either. Shame. Yet, still, Lemmy does the rock showman thing – 2turn it up”, he tells the sound man, “you can be deaf like me”. Fairly soon it is time for…”If you shout we come back”, Lemmy chews his gum coolly, “you know how it works”. When they come back he tells us “if you know the words, sing along ‘cos I can’t hear stuff no more”. Perhaps the two huge bass speakers on the backline (which is as big as the front of house PA) account for some of that! We get a traditional acoustic blues (Poorhouse Blues) with two acoustic guitars till Mikkey kills his. That’s drummers for you…. Ace Of Spades goes down well and Overkill is delivered at a reckless, throwaway speed with a strobe onslaught throughout. It stops, starts and is worked into a fugue. Then the band leave the stage without playing Bomber and without playing Motorhead. There must have been a few disappointed casual fans but the loyalists will have heard those plenty over the years, since Lemmy, despite living in LA and recording for a German label, manages an annual UK tour.
In my more idle moments, I wonder who would be most likely to survive a cataclysm – Lemmy Kilminster or Keith Richards. Tonight, my opinion leans towards Lemmy but he’d be a remarkably deaf last man.