While some trends may come and go there are certain things in life that will always remain a constant. One of those is that Motorhead will make a triumphant return to the Manchester Apollo at some point in the later quarter of the year. 2011 is no different and Motorhead have screamed into Manchester to play their final date on English soil before moving on to conquer foreign territories. With a new album to tour entitled ‘The World Is Yours’, Motorhead have decided to enlist the help of a couple of punk band to get the crowd good and ready before they take the stage to once more lay waste to the Apollo.
First into the fray are punk stalwarts, the UK Subs, Amazingly Charlie Harper turned the grand old age of sixty-seven in May of this year but you wouldn’t think so from the youthful performance he put in tonight. The only long-standing member in the band, Charlie gets the honour of opening this very special evening and sets about business with an angry and belligerent ‘Emotional Blackmail’.
From the off its plane to see that quite a large portion of the crowd know the songs and form a mosh pit in front of the stage. It’s surprising how close the sound of punk and heavy metal has grown over the years and older UK tracks like ‘Rocker’ and ‘Tomorrows Girls’ benefit greatly from the visceral brute force that comes with ear-splitting amplification. The band finishes with a double whammy of ‘Stranglehold’ and ‘Disease’ though if the crowd had had its way the UK Subs would have played a far longer set.
As one would expect the crowd is predominately male with a tiny smattering of women. The mode of dress is leather and faded denim though the addition of two punk bands on the bill adds a splash of colour to the event. Most of them have drunk far more than is sensible but it a good vibe and everybody has come to have fun and enjoy themselves.
Anti - Nowhere League
The Anti-Nowhere League are a funny band. I don’t mean funny ha-ha, what I mean is that I can never tell if they’re being serious or it’s all a joke. For sure they have some great tunes in ‘For You’ and ‘Dead Heroes’, both which get a battering tonight, though it songs like Woman’ with its rugged misogynism and the completely exhausted joke that is the cover of ‘Streets of London’ which gives one the impression they’re taking the piss. Whether the Anti-Nowhere League are a punk band or a parody of a punk band I don’t know, but somehow they’ve managed, thanks to Metallica covering ‘So What’, to elevate themselves to a position they don’t really deserve. Frontman Animal is still a commanding presence and the years have been kind to his voice and tonight they’re well received which sets the scene for the band everyone’s come to see, the mighty Motorhead.
A Motorhead live show gives everyone the chance to hear the band twist the volume knob right round to eleven and listen to the music extremely fucking loud, so when the face-melting noise blasts out from the massed ranks of Marshall amps it’s like being battered with an iron bar. In fact it’s so loud that the tunes blur into one so in the end all any difference between the tracks is just down to how much the band applies the throttle. Not that this makes the slightest bit of difference to the Motorhead bangers who are going completely nuts to opening tune ‘Bomber’. After such a lengthy career, Motorhead have putting on a rock show down to a fine art. Apart from the ear-splitting volume, there’s blistering guitar and drum solos, oceans of dry ice and a blinding light show. It’s all put together, it seems, to see how the human senses can endure.
The band rumble on through the evening playing songs from all points of their back catalogue. Thankfully there are breaks in the performance to allow Phil Campbell to show off his skills with a beautifully played guitar solo on ‘One Night Stand’ and there’s also the mandatory drum solo that’s expertly discharged by tub thumper Mikkey Dee. But these moments of respite from the barrage only makes you feel it more acutely when it fires up into action again. The set screeches to a halt with a pummelling version of ‘Iron Fist’ clubs the crowd into submission. The ecstatic crowd bring the band back where they deliver the acoustic guitar driven ‘Whorehouse Blues’ followed by the two songs probably everyone has come to hear the band play tonight, ‘Ace of Spades’ and ‘Overkill’.
You can’t really call yourself a heavy metal fan unless you’ve undertaken the rite of passage that’s seeing a Motorhead show. There’s pleasure in the pain that the volume brings but if you can stand it then thanks to Motorhead, the world will always be yours. Did I mention it was loud!
Review by Phil King
Photos by Mel