Reviewed: Motorhead + The Reverend Horton Heat @ The Rave, 8/29/09

Words by Brian Whitney

“This song came out in 1983…before you were born.” Delivered without any kind of inflection, this was Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister’s introduction to Motorhead’s “I Got Mine”. I don’t know why I’d expect Lemmy to be more introspective (this is, after all, a 63 year old man whom, on his last record, released a song called “Rock Out (With Your Cock Out)”, devoid of irony), but isn’t that depressing as shit? It’s been said that rock and roll is a young man’s profession; nevertheless, Motorhead pushes onward, attempting to disprove the truism.

Opening the show was The Reverend Horton Heat, a band that anyone who either owns or lives with someone who owns Guitar Hero is at least nominally familiar with. RHH adheres to a fairly standard guitar/bass/drums setup, with the caveat that the bass is an upright bass rather than a bass guitar. My first visual impression of the band was that they seemed like three dudes who were friends of your dad who were a little too into skull and flame based imagery, not to mention Brian Setzer. The band did little to dispel this impression through the first half of their set; every song had roughly the same tempo and structure, including the incredibly annoying ‘song title equals lyrics to the chorus’ thing (“There Ain’t No Saguaro in Texas”, “Drinking and Smoking Cigarettes”, etc. You get the picture.) The second half of their hour long performance was more pleasing, kicked off by the aforementioned Guitar Hero favorite “Psychobilly Freakout” and plowing through some other songs that were probably about hanging out in a suburban basement refashioned as a bar or something. The band is made of proficient musicians and has a clearly defined niche that a surprisingly large portion of the Motorhead audience appreciated. I can see why RHH does it for some people, but at the same time am completely aware of why they don’t do it for me.

I don’t know what I really expected Motorhead to accomplish. I figured at the very least there’d be some sort of over the top stage spectacle, or maybe Lemmy’s bass chops would cause me to reevaluate my own playing. Instead it was three old guys playing a mix of 70s punk and 80s metal in 2009. As you can imagine, the audience was a show of its own. I was wedged in between a 40 year old man wearing a leather jacket and sunglasses in The Rave, and a kid in his early 20’s wearing a Skrewdriver hoodie (yes, this kid cared so deeply about a white supremacist punk band that broke up when he was probably in elementary school that he needed not just a regular shirt, but a hoodie. The best-case scenario here is that he bought it at a vintage shop or something without knowing the band’s material. Pause and reflect).

I left the show about thirty minutes into Motorhead’s set. Musically, I didn’t feel like anything interesting was happening (didn’t help that The Rave’s soundperson couldn’t figure out how to take the high end off of the vocals, resulting in the occasional feedback squeal whenever Lemmy got too loud) and there was nothing particularly engaging to distract me from the no doubt, once- vital sounding punk salvos, now dead horses after being played thousands of times. Motorhead have been a band since 1975: the fact that they are still going is both impressive and sad, but by the same token, it’s not like Lemmy was going to go back to school or something. If I’m still in White Problems at age 63, shoot me.

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4 Responses to “Reviewed: Motorhead + The Reverend Horton Heat @ The Rave, 8/29/09”

  1. Corky Says:

    Saw the Motorhead, RHH, Nashville Pussy concert last night in Detroit…Like you, I left a few songs into Motorheads portion…Louder does not mean better…They sucked…The people-watching was fantastic though…

    RHH & Nashville Pussy are better seen in a smaller venue like The Intersection in GR or Magic Stick in Detroit…

  2. Sophia Says:

    I also attended the Motorhead concert at the Rave. Unlike the author of the review I stayed until the very end of the show. (I am still unsure how I feel about a review based on less than half of a show.) At any rate, I do not own any work by Motorhead, nor do I plan on purchasing any. I am not an active fan, set on defending the band. That said,the concert, was exactly what I imagined a Motorhead concert should be: loud rock and roll. That’s it. Motorhead is what it is and the band sounded like it has always sounded to me on any of the recordings I’ve heard. And by that standard, the show was excellent. Additionally, the drummer performed a fantastic solo, which was truly exceptional. This was later in the show, so it was not mentioned in the review.

  3. DJ Hostettler Says:

    The adage that rock ‘n’ roll is a “young man’s game” is complete bullshit. That’s all i’m saying.

  4. cal Says:

    snotty preconceptions + video game-based music history + the worst venue in the midwest = negative review. shocking! how punk rock of you to hope your band dies before you get old.

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