Going to the Chapel (or Club Nokia) with Professor Bunkum

Man am I behind.  I was trying to pick my favorite gig of the summer til I realized it’s halfway through October.  MOTORHEAD played a week ago, and I’m just now getting around to a review.  Professor Bunkum needs to pick up the pace or a lot of kids out there will think metal began with Pantera.  Wrong.

Exhibit A: MOTORHEAD.  There’s a good argument metal began with them.  There’s a great argument thrash metal began with them.  It’s absolutely true that Venom began with them.  Maybe industrial too -- listen to improbable #1 debut “No Sleep Til Hammersmith” and pretend it’s Killing Joke.  Yes, get ready kids: it’s back to school week.  Shit you’ve heard before and know is true. Shit you need to hear again because this is the English language I’m dealing in, and ours is a tradition of history.  You think it sucks hearing the same stories over and over?  Ya, well, you could be living in Germany or France, where your stories don’t count under the law.  But here our stories count.  We tell them over and over to keep the wolves of reality at bay.  On the Continent they take Laibach seriously and boil life down to a four on the floor legal code.  Got something new you want to talk about in Berlin?  Nope -- all been done before -- put your square peg in this round hole -- NEXT!  Stuck in a rut right up the butt.  But this is English here.  A messy approximation of reality that never gets there but never gives up.  English that reminds us we better hang onto the past because it’s all we got on the future, but let’s get on with it and have a drink and a laugh at the first chance.

And there is nothing more English (or metal) than one Ian Lemmy Kilmister, the man who is MOTORHEAD.  Raised on pop, blues, Chuck Berry and Beatles.  Weened on acid.  A grown specimen on speed.  A man who realized 30 years ago what our blabbering buddies need to know now: speed is what coke is supposed to be.  A man who maybe--MAYBE-- tried ecstasy once.  A man who sang, before 1976 (whether or not he wrote it):

You only get a single chance / The rules are fair and plain / The truth is well concealed within the details of the game.

Can you get the valium ?/ For god’s sake make it quick / Lost Johnny’s out there / Trying to turn a trick.

There’s been a lot of time wasted on the Hollywood Boulevard by folks who could have taken those words to heart.  Free advice from Lemmy.  Lemmy the psychedelic warlord on the frontiers of consciousness.  Literally, as in it’s real psychedelic to see how long you can stay awake.  To see how loud you can get.  To embrace physicality and its trappings: sex, the pursuit of pleasure, constant movement.  A new album, a new tour, a new city, a new girl, a new bottle, a new interview, a new best friend.  Again and again and again.  Maybe that’s solipsistic, maybe that’s not “grounded” behavior.  Maybe he’ll find out. Maybe he can’t get a better job. Maybe, in the end, I’m glad it’s not me.

So I always see MOTORHEAD when they come to town because it might be my last time. And it is good for the soul. October 9 was no exception, on any count.  At the Club Nokia and headlining -- perfect.  Because MOTORHEAD’s sound demands the best mix and sound system around.  The bass drives the band and steps on everything, including a good guitarist and a great drummer (Mikkey Dee of King Diamond, if yer keepin track).  If this were my last Motorhead show, it was a good one.  Classics like “Iron Fist” and “Bomber.” Newbies like “Be My Baby.”  And  “Another Perfect Day” (“out to lunch / speak your piece / good and drunk / back on the street” -- poetry but I don’t know why) and  “Whorehouse Blues” (with Mikkey Dee drums / guitar -- one man band stylin). Very little of the “just another show” vibe that permeates their worst moments.  Two hours of perfect din with a hook somewhere in there.  An old man who’s not dead yet (not close), with his jeans tucked in his boots pretending to be a cowboy and a pirate and Chuck Berry and John Entwhistle and Joey Ramone at the same time.  There’s a “Lemmy” movie coming out next year.  There should be.  Lemmymania is about to hit.  Listen to the records and keep your head on straight and we’ll get through it.  As the man himself said,  “You don’t need binoculars to see the light.”