I had the pleasure of seeing Motörhead at the Warfield in San Francisco. As I headed towards will call, I passed along side a long line going a good distance down Market Street. Most everyone in line was wearing a Motörhead shirt, a leather jacket with spikes or a hoodie with punk or metal patches or a combination of those. Once inside I could feel a buzz of excitement in the air. The majority of the crowd were older, long time fans but there were a good amount of younger fans too. In fact, there was a thirteen year old with his dad near the front at the start of the show. In the mens room I overheard some older gentlemen wearing shirts from past tours reminiscing about the good old days when beers were three dollars and security was cool. If you can judge a persons musical taste by their appearance, I would say both metal and punk fans were represented well in the audience.
They opened the set with “Damage Plan” followed by “Stay Clean” and the crowd was loving it and were definitely getting pretty wild. Things were getting thrown on stage and it got so bad that Lemmy took the time between songs to tell the crowd to stop throwing things. He said that he didn’t get into this business to have stuff thrown at him, he got into it to play music. Guitarist Phil Campbell followed that up by telling the crowd they’d end the show if it continued. Right after that someone threw something I couldn’t quite make out onstage and with an agitated Campbell responding that whoever threw it was a real star.
Lemmy then announced they were about to play “Metropolis” before the show started up again. This was the last song photographers could be up front for and as I was shooting I felt something hit me in the back and the back of the head. I realized that a guy fell on me and was being separated from someone in the front row and pulled out by security. Needless to say, the crowd was rowdy and maybe just a little bit too hyped for the show. I went up to the balcony to watch the rest of the show and that’s when I realized just how packed the place was. The only spot available was all the way up to the back row and I had to stand in an area that wasn’t really even meant for people to be in. It was pretty crazy. Even up in the balcony, most everyone were standing while singing along and cheering the band on. To say the crowd was spirited would definitely be an understatement.
Motörhead stuck to mostly their back catalog playing songs like “Over the Top” and “Doctor Rock”. The one track that they did play from their new album Aftershock, was the slow and moody “Lost Woman Blues”. Lemmy told the crowd the song that the song they were about to play was about the politicians stealing our money before starting “Just Cos’ You Got the Power”. It was quite the sight to see much of the crowd clapping their hands above their head to the beat of the song. They ended the main set with the crowd pleasing “Ace of Spades” and returned for an encore of “Overkill” to finish out the show.
There are shows where you see the love for a band, then there are shows where you see the near idolism of a band like Motörhead. Taking in this show gave me an appreciation of just how beloved Motörhead is. I was impressed by not only their performance, but the passion of their fans. Their music has always transferred well to live performance and the band played a good selection of songs spanning their entire career. Motörhead isn’t very active on stage; They are getting up there in age and to be honest, Lemmy’s health has been better, but they didn’t need to be all over the stage or jumping around, their playing and music is more than enough to keep the crowds attention and treat them to a great show. Lemmy and Motörhead have solidified their spot in Rock and Roll lore, so I strongly suggest you see the guys anytime they come around.
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