I never had the privilege of seeing MOTÖRHEAD live. They were my brother’s favourite band, my parents were fans and a number of close friends enjoyed them live too. But I never saw them live.
They are a band with a legacy that is quite unlike any other. A legacy that is best summed up in the words “They were MOTÖRHEAD, and they played rock and roll.”
A hardcore fan will likely have this pre-saved and pre-ordered by the time they read this review, a less hardcore fan will buy the CD or stream it online. A casual fan will hear it in a bar or around a friend’s place and think to themselves “Hey! This is pretty good.” You either like it or you’ve never heard of MOTÖRHEAD.
MOTÖRHEAD are like that, it’s hard to find anyone in the metal scene who doesn’t at least have some affection for them or understanding of them. Lemmy was the figurehead of the hard rock lifestyle that we all aspire to but all secretly know that it would kill us within about four to five days. MOTÖRHEAD may have sung of being Killed By Death but us mere mortals have to worry about the very real possibility of being killed by slightly more mundane things.
This is a posthumous live album from their show in Berlin in 2012. It has a smattering of favourites plus quite a few hidden gems that don’t tend to see the light of day.
We begin with Lemmy greeting the crowd and asking Philip (Campbell) “if he’d be so kind” and launching into the incredible I Know How To Die. Live recordings tend to suffer from not having the same controllable factors as those done in a studio but this is pristine. There’s something about MOTÖRHEAD’s sound that almost works better here, maybe it’s the rawness and the grit. Maybe MOTÖRHEAD just transcends the science of studio engineering.
The album ends with three of their bigger tracks; Killed By Death, Ace Of Spades and Overkill. Up to this point, more casual listeners may be completely lost. There isn’t much that’s a big name save for The Chase Is Better Than The Catch. But that’s actually not a mark against it. MOTÖRHEAD were alarmingly consistent with their releases. It’s hard to go to one of their albums and point to the moment where it drops in quality. A new fan could be a little intimidated by these names that they’ve not seen before but it’s an excellent place to jump off from.
By the time Ace of Spades is played, it’s apparent that Lemmy is getting a bit tired but that’s no bad thing. It adds another layer of verisimilitude and as a result you can put it on some comically large speakers, close your eyes and imagine that you’re there.
The eagle eyed reader will note that I haven’t really discussed things like song composition, technical ability etc. That’s because there’s no need. As I said before “You either like it or you’ve never heard of MOTÖRHEAD”
The worst thing about this release by far is that it’s a reminder that we can never look forward to another studio album. That we can never see them live again (or at all in my case) and that there will likely never be a band quite like MOTÖRHEAD for a long time to come.
Words: Jacob McCrone
Louder Than Noise…Live In Berlin is out now.
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