Motörhead, The Damned - Wembley Arena, London, 08/11/14

"Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." Mark Twain 1897

England won the World Cup at Wembley, Henry Cooper put Cassius Clay on his arse at Wembley and George Best and Bobby Charlton won the European Cup at Wembley but all of that pales into insignificance compared to what happened at Wembley last Saturday.

On Saturday night at Wembley Arena, aka the SSE Arena, a man took the stage after having recently poked the Grim Reaper in the eye and spat in the Devil's face. He'd probably been sent back as he was just far too rock n' roll for Hell.

After some very worrying and well documented health difficulties this past couple of years and an appearance at Hyde Park in the summer where the spirit was more than ready to kick ass but the body didn't have its bootlaces tied, there were some in attendance who were there to pay homage at what they thought may be Motörhead's last ever gig in England.

Well this is a band who have consistently defied the odds since their formation 39 years ago and England's perennial underdog are doing precisely that all over again and doing it better than anyone else ever could. They are Motörhead and they don't just play rock n' roll, they have practically become rock n' roll by transcending even their own personae. They are so much more than a hard rock band. They are iconic and legendary and somehow even those words don't quite seem to do them justice.

"Not bad for a bunch of geriatrics!" said Captain Sensible at the end of The Damned's supporting set and he was right, it wasn't bad at all. It was pretty damn(ed) good actually and here we have another example of a legendary band who are still doing the business. The Damned surprised quite a few people on Saturday night. Dave Vanian belied his 58-years; in fact he's even better for it, becoming more Lugosi-esque with each passing chapter and tonight he was simply resplendent. Youthful vigour was the name of the game here alongside a superb guitar performance from Captain Sensible. No stupid Happy Talk bullshit here - just straight ahead punk n' roll, Damned style and it was great to see and great to hear and long may it continue.

"They proved me right, they proved me wrong, but they could never last this long." - Ian Fraser Kilmister 1979

But back to Motörhead; in fact, we'll probably always go back to Motörhead because there is simply no other band like them and nor will there ever be. There will be countless lesser copies in the coming decades but what we saw on Saturday night was the real deal. In classical terms, nobody has ever emulated Beethoven or Mozart and in rock n' roll terms, you can put Motörhead in that very same bracket.

Tonight's set list contained surprises. The first six songs were from the first four albums and opening with Shoot You In The Back turned out to be a great decision. It worked well, and then some. There was just one song from latest album Aftershock, Lost Woman Blues, and nothing from the Bastards and Hammered albums but this was a superb set list with every song a winner and the whole thing blending together seamlessly. Mikkey Dee and Phil Campbell played extended intros before a few of the numbers and provided solos which all allowed Lemmy to take a breather here and there without diminishing the show or performance. I hope he had a cheeky JD and line of speed during these short intervals.

Phil has been in the band for thirty years now and of the countless times I have seen him play, tonight was the absolute best, no two ways about it. He appears to have hit a new dimension and reached new levels of precision. Mikkey has been a member for twenty-one years now and once again, I have never seen him perform as well as he did at Wembley. He made it all look so effortless. And the main man himself put to bed any stories about him being on his last legs. This was nothing like the end. It was more like a new beginning and the next chapter of Motörhead, beginning with next year's 40th anniversary celebrations, promises much and if there's one band you can always count on to deliver, it is Motörhead.

This was nothing short of a complete and absolute triumph; a more than memorable performance that will be spoken about for a long time to come by those in attendance.

Long live rock n' roll, long live Lemmy, long live Motörhead. Still moving like a parallelogram...

Setlist:

Shoot You In The Back

Damage Case

Stay Clean

Metropolis

Over The Top

Guitar Solo

The Chase Is Better Than The Catch

Rock It

Suicide

No Class

Lost Woman Blues

Doctor Rock (with drum solo)

Just 'Cos You Got The Power

Going To Brazil

Killed By Death

Ace Of Spades

Encore:

Overkill

 

Photo by Stephanie Wooley.