Whenever Motorhead comes into town, you know it’s going to be a night to remember. This was especially true in the case of this veteran hard rock unit’s recent appearance at Orlando’s House of Blues, one of the stops on Motorhead’s tour in support of their vengeful new album ‘Bad Magic.’
Motorhead’s Orlando show had been anticipated by the Floridian heavy metal fan base since the initial tour announcement, and to express that there were doubts as to whether the war machine bassist and whiskey-fueled vocalist in Lemmy would grace the stage would be obvious enough. What mattered that night were the same reasons why Motorhead has mattered over the past four decades: molten riffs, bewildering percussion and assertive stage presence.
The crowd was electric and ready to form circle pits at a moment’s notice even while standing outside in the rain waiting for the quaint venue to open it’s doors. Even so, an opening performance from rising hard rockers Crobot was readily appreciated by this open minded fan base. Crobot unified their collective energies with futuristic sound effects, a vintage 70s rock feel and a predominantly active rock character.
If Crobot’s performance was formidable, then it’s safe to acknowledge that Anthrax tore the roof right off that damn weather-battered building. Anthrax remain one of the most celebrated and defining forces in the thrash metal genre, and frontman Joey Belladonna led the pack of rambunctious and rowdy musical athletes with his compelling operatic vocals. The grooves were tight and vicious with the opening anthem “Madhouse,” which sure enough set the mosh pit a-spinning. Who could blame ’em?
The skills of twin ax wielders Scott Ian and Jonathan Donais were sharp to the touch during Anthrax’s set of hits. “Caught in a Mosh,” which could have been the fitting theme song of the evening,” as well as “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t” were highlighted by blistering solos and grounded chord progressions. Expansive banners with the image of the late Ronnie James Dio were later brought out on each side of the stage for an unforgettable rendition of “Neon Knights.” The cover perhaps even surpassed that of Anthax’s studio recording of the Black Sabbath riff rocker for the ‘This Is Your Life‘ tribute album.
Closing out with the rhythmic attitude of the ‘Among the Living’ fan favorite “Indians,” it would have been challenging for any band to have done a more impressive job at setting the stage for a headlining performance from Motorhead. The bar had been set, and still the members of Motorhead surpassed that level of prowess upon stepping out onstage and tearing into the title track off of 1979’s ‘Bomber.’
The lighting arrangements weren’t in the favor of Lemmy during the band’s performances of “Bomber” and “Stay Clean,” as the mainman was positioned towards the back of stage left and far away from the stage setup. Even so, there are few lead vocalists who can move at the pace of an animatronic rock god within the shadows of a small, yet filled to the brim venue and still keep an audience of that magnitude on their feet for the entirety of the band’s set.
“This next song is called Metropolis,” Lemmy growled to the delighted roars of his dedicated army of rock advocates. Phil “Wizzo” Campbell was found skipping playfully across vacant portions of the stage while nailing the song’s guitar arrangements, even standing alongside his friend and band leader to jam along.
It was somewhat odd that Motorhead didn’t bring out a single song from the ‘Bad Magic’ album during their Orlando show, especially seeing as the group went through hell and high water to continue this tour in support of the effort. Understandably, there are 22 records in the Motorhead catalog and that provided more than enough material for a new setlist every night, but that still made the introduction of “Lost Woman Blues” from 2013’s ‘Aftershock‘ even more surprising. Don’t get us wrong, that is an excellent blues rock anthem from these British metal veterans, but “Thunder & Lightning” or “Electricity” could have just as easily found their way into the show.
That is as close to a complaint as one could justifiably offer about this Motorhead show. The musicianship was in top form, especially during a pair of manic solos from Campbell and drummer extraordinaire Mikkey Dee, the latter of which was strengthened by wild smoke plumes which shot up above the drum kit. There was hardly enough room to breathe in this packed venue, just as it should have been for such an occasion, but everyone still found the space to go unchained during “Ace of Spades” and an encore of “Overkill.”
“We should come back to Orlando more often,” Lemmy reflected towards the end of the show, peering out into the all-embracing crowd. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Motorhead Setlist 9.25.15 Orlando, FL House of Blues
Over the Top
The Chase Is Better Than the Catch
Lost Woman Blues
Ace of Spades
Just ‘Cos You Got the Power