GDFAF #14: Motorhead / Clutch / Crucified Barbara (9/11/6)
And so the time came for the final gig of Going Deaf For A Fortnight 2006. I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself from now on.
Original Goodfaffer (Godfafther?) Pete Ashton was amused to hear that I was finishing with a Motorhead gig but noted that it did seem right somehow, given the ‘endurance test’ aspects of all this. We’ll come back to that. For me, doing it this way seemed apt for another reason – if there’s another band who embody ‘live popular music’ to quite the same degree, I can’t think of who it might be. This fortnight has been a salute to the form, and I can’t think of a better act to end it all.
It was The Academy, though, and so it was a case of just watching the bands rather than finishing with a big drunken hurrah. That much genuinely is a shame.
Swedish band Crucified Barbara were the unadvertised openers, and that has to be either the single best or single worst band name I’ve ever heard. I honestly cannot decide which. Yet another ‘OK melodic rock band,’ anyway, and despite such groups having become the bane of my existence over the last fortnight I couldn’t muster up any degree of unjustified hatred for one of ‘em on the last night. Nothing particularly interesting about their music, though, and having all your band members be edible Swedish ladies doesn’t really change that.
Clutch were the main support, and in all honesty are a band I like a lot more than Motorhead (or most bands, really. I’ve been known to refer to them as The Best Rock Band Currently Operating, and there isn’t really a lot of hyperbole there). They’re certainly my most-seen foreign band – this was my seventh time with them. Their groooooving rock has the vocals mixed right up this time around, which I’ve never seen before but made for a good sound (although – as always with this sort of thing – I’ve no idea whether that was the plan or just what the soundman managed to conjure up for them), and opening your set with ‘Escape From The Prison Planet’ is a genius plan. They jam a lot, admittedly, and I’m not normally an avid supporter of that kind of behaviour, but they always manage to keep it on the right side of interesting – the swirly, shimmery bit (technical terms) which built up and coalesced into the riffs of ‘Big News’ was fantastic, for example. Amazing band. The music dying away to just leave vocalist Neil Fallon on his own roaring “…IN THE BACK OF A JACKED UP FORD…” was as great an ending to a set as “We are Motorhead and we play rock ‘n’ roll” is a beginning to one.
So yes, they are Motorhead and they play rock ‘n’ roll. There’s rarely a lot you can say about a Motorhead set, really – they’re pretty much the definition of ‘consistency.’ I can’t even discuss what songs they chose to play or not play, as apparently Lemmy doesn’t like people doing that. He’s a funny ‘un, that boy. I’d better shut up though, ‘cos I think I just saw him walk past our house.
What I might address is the still-widely held polite fiction (as referred to above) that Motorhead are the loudest band in the world. They may well be on a purely scientific level of decibels (although isn’t that Ted Nugent? I know Manowar have made similar claims, too, but I suspect that’s just a load of foolishness), but they don’t really play in spaces that are enclosed enough to make you actually feel it on your eardrums anymore. The additional racks of speakers either side of the stage might well look like two upended stretches of the Maginot Line, but The Academy is a huge, huge room. There was no way this was going to deafen me in the way that the Baroness gig did at The Medicine Bar the previous week, and indeed it didn’t. The heat at this gig made for more of an endurance test than the volume.
I don’t think that matters, of course. It was well loud enough, and we still have the high-energy metallic boogie we came for. They do have an elemental sort of power about them, do Motorhead, capable of both the precise attack of any metal band and frenetic shred of any punk band as and when each suit them. A fitting end to the whole thing.
So, ladies and gents, that was Going Deaf For A Fortnight 2006. I can’t believe it’s over.
~ Russ L, lost for words.