Motörhead & Clutch rev Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre (2/7)

Vancouver’s finest metalheads lined up around the block outside the Vogue Theatre Monday night to witness a sold-out Motörhead show of epic proportions. The last time the legendary UK rockers were in town was in 2009 with Reverend Horton Heat. This time around they brought a fitting cavalry of rock and roll, the crunching Valiant Thorr and the bluesy punk punch of Clutch.

Unfortunately, I only caught the last few songs of Valiant Thorr, but from what I gathered, it was the perfect intro to a dangerously loud and boisterous night. Maryland rockers Clutch took the reins shortly after and won over the crowd with their lively mix of blues, funk, and stoner rock. Clutch could have easily headlined the event themselves; many people at the show were there solely to see them. (Motörhead would have just been icing on the cake.) Singer Neil Fallon had one pair of powerful pipes that shook the theatre walls, while his lively onstage antics kept the audience engaged and rocking out. Clutch was actually a lot harder, faster, and louder than I expected, and it was easy to see why they are praised the world over for being such a great live band. I’d be surprised if that performance didn’t win them some new fans.

After Clutch left the stage, a wave of black eyeliner, tattoos, and studded jean jackets rushed for the front and wriggled around impatiently like a pen of drunk puppies waiting for their master, Motörhead. By the time drummer Mikkey Dee, guitarist Phil Campbell, and singer/bassist/god Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister strolled on, the atmosphere was uncontrollably charged.

“We are Motörhead, we play rock ‘n’ roll,” Lemmy announced in his psuedo-Johnny Cash getup and then got right down to business, blasting through a mix of classic amp-shattering songs including “Metropolis”, “Ace of Spades”, “I Got Mine”, “Killed by Death”, and “Overkill”, as well as a few off of their new album, The World Is Yours. Surprisingly, the audience seemed just as pumped to hear their new material, and the energy never lagged for a second.

The thing that struck me most about watching Motörhead was how damn iconic the band was. Without even realizing it, I kept conjuring up comparisons to Spinal Tap and even The Simpsons episode that spoofed Spinal Tap. While Mikkey Dee wailed furiously on the drums, I was half expecting a giant inflatable spider to be lowered on to the stage. This is just how legendary these misfits are; you forget how much influence they’ve had on pop culture and the music industry.

And considering how long the band has been around – and how long they’ve been tirelessly touring – they were in fine form, too. Campbell strutted from one end of the stage to the other, showing off his soloing skills and showboating in a manner that only he could get away with. Lemmy kept the chitchat to a minimum but still made an effort to get the crowd jazzed up by goading them into a screaming contest, as well as dropping little soundbites here and there. (“This is a song from 1983, before you were born!”) Then there was the incomparable Mikkey Dee, who went off into an amazing drum solo, complete with exploding fog machines, flashing lights, and a cacophony of beats pounded out at a dizzying rate.

By the time it was all over, the audience was left completely deaf and breathless (and judging from the amount of people stumbling around or passed out in the lobby, more than a little drunk). I have to say it: Motörhead had their game, and their amps, turned up to 11.

Gallery by Karina Halle

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