First off, apologies to purists for the absence of the umlaut on the ‘O’. I really can’t be bothered to figure that out in WordPress. I have however been very impressed by the auto fill skill of iPhone & iPad when it comes to recognising the band’s name. That if anything is the best illustration of the bands place in the cultural landscape.
One the bands Wikipedia page, Lemmy notes that the umlaut was included for visual effect and that German fans don’t alter their pronunciation to accommodate it in the normal way.
When my associate (Obiwann Kenobi, not the real one though) suggested we go and see the band I kind of paused. He had asked before and whilst I saw them years ago I couldn’t quiet say yes. On this occasion the swinging factor was the support. It has been a long time since I listened to the UK Subs & the Anti No Where League. Steeping back in time to Tamworth punks & the Tavern in the Town in 1984 was an interesting proposal.
The only song the Subs played that I can honestly remember was Stranglehold. Even at its dirtiest, punk rock had a way with pop methodology. If you can see past the volume, swearing and dubious morality the movement was really quite populist.
One of the things I remember (well, paint with vague memory brushes) about the eighties was the small scale tribalism. 2011 seems far more homogenous but maybe that’s because I’m not a participant. In the eighties we had punks, skins, straights, rockers, ska, reggae, new romantics, kiddy pop, MOR, AOR, etc. All of these had their place on TOTP’s and their own ‘nights’ at the local night club.
The Anti No Where League didn’t make much of an impression on the charts (I think the Sub’s might have) but then the League are quiet intense. It would be wrong to say they are a guilty pleasure but without interrogation I can’t say what elements of the band are performance/irony/intent/ideology. I’m no biographer or historian. I just remember hearing Woman, Streets of London, So What!, We Are The League in the Tav’ and enjoying the rush. They played all of these songs tonight and the singer Animal gives an uber macho, strut monster credibility to every word.
Now the thing about Motorhead is that they are primordial. Lemmy started the band in 1975 and the formula remains unchanged. They are a rock’n’roll band. They play quiet short songs, fairly fast and very loud. Occasionally Lemmy creates a lyric that defines the band clearly (Motorhead, Overkill, Ace of Spades, Bomber,). The songs tend to avoid boy/girl love, philosophy and social comment and concentrate on big concepts like excess, victory, dominance, #winning in their broadest sense. They do this very well and without any pretence.
Motorhead are in Dr Who terms a fixed point in time and this is something to be admired. There is a great documentary about Lemmy out there. Like many great English Men he treads his own line with one foot in the past (he has an appreciation of 20th century history) and has been involved in the British music scene since the early seventies. There might be elements of his Lemmyness that make you uncomfortable but you can’t deny his commitment and openness.
The demographic is narrow but the appreciation is honest and joyous. The crowd was 99.95% white male with at least 50% above 40 (this allows for the event that this is a non-qualified and invented statistical assertion). The Royal Centre was a strange venue given it’s seating but it was almost full and I certainly appreciated being able to watch the support acts seated. Rock City may have been a better venue but with half the ticket sales and the associated claustrophobia I would have probably chickened out.
I’m including a number of pictures here and two videos. I have no idea what one of the songs is. As I think I’ve indicted I like the idea of Motorhead slightly more than I want to immerse myself in the actuality. I have a couple of CD’s but they aren’t my go to guys for any event that springs to mind.
But saying that, I had a big dumb grin on my face throughout the show, and enjoyed every minute of all three bands.