Motörhead/ Clutch/ Valient Thorr @ Elements, Kitchener ON, February 25, 2011

Live review by Sean Palmerston; Concert photography by Albert Mansour

Motörhead has been on quite a roll as of late up here in Canaduh. To accompany the release of their excellent new album The World Is Yours, the world’s heaviest rock and roll trio gave us Canadians quite a treat, doing a series of dates across Western Canada and gracing us in Southern Ontario with two(!) shows, both of which were less than an hour’s drive from Hellbound HQ. Originally I had plans to go to both shows, but when Toronto sold out in mere weeks, I missed my chance. Of course, the Kitchener show ended up selling out quickly too, as would be expected from a 1200 seat capacity venue hosting a  Motörhead gig, but Mr. Mansour and I were lucky enough to attend this very, very sold out show.

While I had never seen Valient Thorr live before, I was assured by Kevin Stewart-Panko that they were not to be missed. Apparently the band is almost always out on tour, something any live music fan can appreciate, and while they may not have been an obvious match musically with the other bands on the bill, this night they did their job well. As the opening band of the night, the quintet did absolutely great job getting the crowd into the the show. Led by their enigmatic front man Valient Himself, the band cruised through a high-octane set of street punk/metal that would make fans of bands as different as the Dictators and Queens of The Stone Age satisfied. I had only heard a few songs before this set, but I now have the band on my shopping list. They impressed me more than enough live that I feel a vinyl purchase to be approaching soon.

The venue was still filling up during the night’s opening set, but by the time Maryland veterans Clutch hit the stage Elements was one fucking packed club. While this was indeed a Motorhead show, there were more than your fair share of Clutch fans in the audience too and frankly, after this set, anyone that wasn’t a Clutch fan before they played sure as hell were by the end of the night. Clutch absolutely owned the stage this particular evening. The band, as tight knit as ever, were locked on before the end of their first song and proceeded to impress for their entire hour long performance. Neil Fallon has always been a great front man, both with and without his guitar, but the real heroes on this evening were the band’s rhythm section. Wow! Drummer Jean-Paul Gaster and bassist Dan Maines were in the pocket with each other immediately and never gave in. Clutch live for me has always been good, but this show was absolutely over the top. Even fellow Hellbound scribe Rob Kachluba, who doesn’t even really like any Clutch albums except their 1995 self-titled one, was blown away at how good they were this time. Much to my surprise, they simply stole the show away from the headliners on this evening and assuredly won themselves some new fans for life.

Not to be outdone, it was no time at all before the mighty Motorhead hit the stage. It’s somewhat hard to believe, but I think the last time the band played here in Kitchener was some thirteen years ago when this same venue was called The Lyric. It was a long wait for them to come back, but the sold out crowd was more than happy they decided to visit the city once named New Berlin once again. After walking out and having Lemmy introduce them with that oh so familiar line of “We are Motorhead and we play rock and roll” the band was off, starting the show with “We Are Motorhead” and ready to blow our brains out. Actually, to be honest the sound was just about perfect for the first four or five songs, which included an absolutely spot on version of “Stay Clean” (including obligatory bass solo), before guitarist Phil Campbell asked if it was loud enough and then had the sounddesk turn the volume up from loud to fucking massive Motorhead proportions. It was incredibly loud, so loud that my ears were ringing after the show and I had earplugs in for its entirety.

I managed to stay down in the front pit for the first half-dozen songs, heading back to safer ground after the band played “Over The Top” because it was about as fucking crazy down there as any Motorhead show I’ve ever been to. Some poor girl spilled her beer over about five people, myself included, and she and her boyfriend soon found themselves being pummelled senselessly by an angry punter that didn’t want a beer shower. These two were in pretty bad shape, I am sure the girl lost at least two teeth during the fracas, so after helping them out of the danger area I actually decided to go stand at the back of the capacity-filled club. Of course, it was just as mind-numbingly loud at the back as it was up front, but the band put on a great set with some really nice surprises. I had personally never seen them play “The Chase Is Better Than The Catch” live before and to have that be followed by the awesome Inferno track “In The Name Of Tragedy” was a great late set one-two combo. The set ended on a really high note, with 1916’s “Going To Brazil” followed by “Killed By Death” and “Ace of Spades”. And, of course, it just wouldn’t be a Motorhead show if they didn’t encore with an extended version of “Overkill” that featured Mikkey Dee going crazy with the double bass kicks. Ah Motorhead, you sure do know how to pummel the shit out of your gear, your fans and their eardrums. Please don’t ever change.

Motorhead setlist
1. We Are Motörhead
2. Stay Clean
3. Get Back In Line
4. Metropolis
5. Over the Top
6. One Night Stand
7. Rock Out
8. Guitar Solo
9. The Thousand Names of God
10. I Got Mine
11. I Know How to Die
12. The Chase Is Better Than the Catch
13. In the Name of Tragedy
14. Drum Solo
15. Just ‘Cos You Got the Power
16. Going to Brazil
17. Killed by Death
18. Ace of Spades
Encore:
19. Overkill

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.