Motorhead Live (2000)

Motörhead, Nashville Pussy
Northern Lights (Clifton Park, New York), June 28, 2000

I’d wager that if you took a casual survey of the hard rock cognoscenti and asked them to tell you which real-life band inspired the hilarious metal mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, Hawkwind (with their real life Stonehenge concerts) and Motörhead (with all of their umlauts) would be the two most frequent responses you’d receive. And if those two bands epitomize all the wonderful ridiculousness of metal as a genre, then much credit for their quintessential nature must devolve to Ian “Lemmy” Kilminster, the former speed-freak roadie who played with Hawkwind during their glory days (even singing their one U.K. hit “Silver Machine”), then founded Motörhead after being chucked by the Hawks after an ill-timed drug bust.

Lemmy brought the latest incarnation of Motörhead (featuring longtime guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mickey Dee, fresh off a classic rock star drunk and disorderly bust in Denver) to Clifton Park last Wednesday for one of the most incomprehensibly, skull-crushingly loud club performances I’ve ever encountered. Or even imagined, for that matter, as I stood in front of a wall of 15 robust speaker cabinets at stage right (an identical stack dominated the other side of the room) and had my innards scrambled by sound waves and my ears taken well beyond the ringing stage and deep into temporary deafness zone.

Way cool, in other words, as was Lemmy as he croaked his way through a set of new and old Motörhead classics (although how could you tell the difference between them?), while creating white bass noise by chording his axe chunk-style and strumming it with a heavy-duty pick, as if he’d forgotten that he wasn’t actually a rhythm guitarist. Bass lines? Who needs ’em! Not Motörhead, nor Lemmy, nor the fans who bounced along to Dee’s thrash tempo double bass drum cadences while Campbell and Lemmy shoved sonic skewers into their heads.

One lingering thought: Lemmy was decked out in his trademark tight black jeans held about his waist by the ever-present rifle cartridge belt — off of which dangled a huge set of keys, like the ones that your elementary school custodian used to carry. So do you want to ponder what a guy like Lemmy needs keys like that for? I don’t.

Perhaps one the keys were used to lock up the wardrobes where the female members of Nashville Pussy kept their shirts — in which case Lemmy obviously didn’t share his ring with the refried Southern raunch rock ensemble’s Corey Parks and Ruyter Suys, who weren’t wearing much in the way of tops when they hit the stage on Wednesday night, and even less when they finished. Parks onstage in such a state of dishevelment is truly a sight to see: the sister of NBA star Cherokee Parks pushes the seven-foot mark herself, and she’s built like Tattoo Shop Barbie, with ink everywhere, legs up to there and, um, some extreme top-heaviness issues to deal with. Scary, you bet.

Suys, on the other hand (and the other end of the stage) was more human-sized — but her performance was as gargantuan as Parks’ stature. Her husband, singer-guitarist Blaine Cartwright, hailed her as “the world’s greatest female guitarist” after one solo, although I think he undersold her, since I’d tag her as one of the best regardless of what equipment the competition was wearing between its legs. Suys matched her technical skills with one of the most over-the-top performance styles I’ve seen either, as she mauled a female staff member, rode around on a male bouncer, sprayed beer in a variety of places where beer shouldn’t be sprayed and ruled out an encore by destroying her guitar during her final number, while perched atop the speaker stack.

Now that’s entertainment that goes to eleven.