/ HIGH ON FIRE / COVERED IN SCARS / CRYPTKICKER 5 / GREENHED
Ventura Theater; Ventura, CA; 04/26/03
Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton
There were so many bands on this ticket we could almost call it "MotorFest." Thankfully, all of them were entertaining enough to hold our attention until the mighty Motorhead took the stage.
First up was Greenhed ... sort of. The band was supposed to start the evening off but finally had to make the announcement that their bass player hadn't showed up. So, after an apology from the vocalist and an impromptu drum solo (which was hot enough to almost make up for the cancelled set) Greenhed cleared the stage, telling the early audience that the band would be auditioning for a new bass player over the next few weeks.
Cryptkicker took the stage next and, although their brand of macabre punk metal didn't win me over right away it did get the mosh pit (which wasn't very populated at the moment) finally moving. As I said, the first few songs of the band's set didn't do much for me but the songs played in the latter half were impressive, their effective chord progressions igniting the crowd which, in turn, gave the band added fuel and charisma. I hope to hear more from Cryptkicker in the near future and I understand the band is currently in the midst of recording.
The hardcore punk crowd got what they were waiting for with Covered In Scars. This band plainly raged through their set, giving the mosh pit something to do while never really changing their furious pace or taking a moment to breath. The extreme sound was lost on many but, again, the mosh pit was happy, with the evening's heaviest moshing (so far) taking place.
High on Fire was next up and, for a moment, you had to wonder if Lemmy's son hadn't taken the stage. Guitarist / Lead vocalist Matt Pike has the same growling vocals as the metal legend and everyone in the audience picked up on it. The band's music, however - which probably sounds great when recorded in the studio, seemed to blur together into one, long, drawn-out song. For all we knew, they were playing the same tune over and over again. Hate to say it, but it was pretty dull. Still, the style and sound were unique enough to warrant seeking out the band's CDs. And, if nothing else, you had to admire the band's dedication intense (although stock-still) performance and sound.
Finally ... it was time for Motorhead. "Are you ready?" Lemmy asked the already screaming, cheering audience and the band launched into the first of many classics from their earliest albums to their newest CDs.
Watching Motorhead on stage and taking in the effect that the band's presence and music was having on the audience (who were now standing, cheering and moshing like monsters), the only phrase that came to mind was "rock'n'roll perfection." This is a veteran band who have learned and mastered everything about their craft - from playing their instruments to performing live on stage - and their live show is nothing short of breathtaking.
Lemmy runs the stage like royalty. His gravelly vocals, brutal bass-playing and rock'n'roll persona have been imitated by many but never matched. Phil Campbell is quite simply one of the most amazing guitarists in rock'n'roll. He makes playing guitar look easy, although it obviously isn't when it comes to Motorhead's speed and power. No matter how difficult the riff, Phil seems to effortlessly handle his guitar, wringing notes out of it that are tighter than hell and louder than loud. And he does it without breaking a sweat. Mikkey Dee - whom Lemmy often refers to as "the greatest drummer in rock'n'roll" - might be just that. Dee is the backbone of the Motorhead machine and, again, with Motorhead's pace and timing, that isn't an easy job. But Dee makes it seem that way.
Together, Motorhead mesh like finely tuned machinery. There's not a nanosecond that the band doesn't seem dead on and it's amazing how well songs like "Metropolis" hold up all these years later and how more recent songs like "Civil War" and "Brave New World" so strongly compare to the old stuff. There's something so pure and so natural about the Motorhead sound. If you broke all rock'n'roll down to its basic elements, Motorhead is what you'd find.
Of course, when the band played "Ace of Spades," all hell broke loose.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Motorhead is the greatest living rock'n'roll band. If you don't believe me, go see their live show - you just might change your mind.
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Copyright © 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:15 -0400.