Motörhead

“If this band moved next door to you, your lawn would die.”Lemmy
(“…and I wouldn’t be so sure about your cat, too” – Valerio)

Is there a way to put in words Motörhead career and Lemmy history. Or even just one of their concerts.
Is there a chance I can write something that hasn’t been written, filmed, screened, posted about this band?
I doubt I can.

I will not. I am not even a fan and they are many, male and big.
I am attracted by the devotion of people. Either politics  or religion or music I find it fascinating.

I have seen Motörhead live about three times in my life, all relatively recently. 2005, 2006 and again in 2012.

To write this post I went back to my negatives archive and fished out some to bring back to life some photos that were originally only on a laptop I was stolen. Forgotten since. The great advantage of analogical photography, a couple of hours on a computer and they are back with me. If they were digital files I was fucked. (No, I didn’t have a back-up of that HD, don’t even start!)

Ian Fraser Kilmister, a.k.a Lemmy, is Motörhead. The only member since he was sacked by Hawkwind after being stopped for drug possession. He fucked them off and started a new music project that will never stop since.
When he’s not playing videopoker or polishing Nazi gadgets in LA, 67 years young, Lemmy is on tour singing Ace of Spades as if it the eighties, the nineties and the noughties never existed.

For the records. Motörhead are a trio. since 1992 the same, with Mikkey Dee on drums. Since 1983 with Phil “Wizzö” Campbell as the guitarist. He’s a bit like Ronnie Wood with the Rolling Stones, he missed the best albums, but stayed as longest member except Lemmy.
I think they accept the band is their singer and bass player. There wouldn’t be Motörhead without Lemmy. There have been Motörhead with other guitarists and drummers.

Lemmy defies time. Either it is 1970, 2005 or today he stands there, Ricken-bastard bass (this is what is written on his bass’ headstock) in front of a wall of Marshalls. You know where to find him. You know how he looks like.
Same boots, cowboy hat, mutton chops, moustaches, moles, black shirt, skinny black denim and Nazi paraphernalia accessories. Despite everything, I can’t stand this last bit. Whatever.

He has the same gruff voice. Even if the claim of a bottle of Jack Daniels a day since he was 30 sounds a rockstar exaggeration, as the 2000 women he is supposed to have slept with, surely he drank more alcohol than an average Cambridgeshire village and he shagged as many women as its female inhabitants.

Motörhead defy history, music history and history altogether.
20 studio albums since 1975. Ace of Spades being their most famous, out 1980. They re-records Ace of Spades with a different title every couple of year, as if conservation was more important than progress. And as far as Motörhead it is. Die-hard fans will probably hate me, but this is it. I don’t see it as a downside. When you buy Motörhead, you know what you buy.

5 live albums too. Including No Sleep Till Hammersmith, one of the most praised live albums in the history of rock music. Get it if you don’t have it. Probably it’s all you need.

Lemmy defies biology. It is incredible how a single man can nullify what several decades of scientific research have tried to prove. Full stop.

Motörhead defy decades. The audience at their gigs spans from Lemmy generation, nowadays people in their seventies, to their grandchildren, already on the front yet to reach their teens.
They are 90% men. The 10% women look they would choose to be reborn men if they were given a choice.

Lemmy defies journalists. It is known there have been obituary ready for him since the seventies.
He is still here alive and kicking. I can see those journalists sit down every Christmas (He was born on 24th of December 1945) swearing while updating what they wrote. For 35 years. Maybe some of them are dead. He’s like cockroaches, I wouldn’t be surprise to see him surviving a nuclear attack.

Motörhead defy ears. Everything Louder than Everyone Else is one of the live albums, and a writing in everyone’s t-Shirt.
“If it’s too Loud You’re Too Old” is another of their mottos.
Motörhead gigs are indeed very loud. There’s no escape. Pointless to listen to this quietly.

Motörhead defy marketing. They’re the only band, among many other gadgets, to have just launched personalised headphones.
Headphones that have even been praised by a review on the Independent: “It’s easy to dismiss these phones as a bit of deft marketing by the band but they are surprisingly good. Features clear highs and a bass that could raise the dead.”

All said. This is not a band, it’s a touring legend. I could go on with anecdotes, tales, myths. In the end I only need paragraphs to separate the photos and give you a visual experience of their live show. Which everyone should see once in their life.

Motörhead have cool photopass stickers, with the war-pig present in most of their cover art.
I wanted to see them live at least once. I went. The year later I went again because, after that first show, I wanted to take pictures of the fans rather than the band. It was the 30th or something anniversary tour.

This year, six since last time, I wanted to have photos in color and on digital. And Anthrax were opening and I wanted their photos too.

As there’s not much difference from one album to the next or one song to the other, honestly, there’s nothing much different from one Motörhead concert to the other. They are all rock’n’fun. Same setlist throughout the tour, the space for few guitar solos, a drum solo, some rock’n’rolls and a cover (Are you ready? By Thin Lizzy this time).

The only two songs of Motörhead I can recognise are Ace of Spades and Overkill. They close the gig with the first and the encore with the second.

Motörhead are online here [website][facebook][twitter][spotify][fans website]

“There is no x metal , no y metal , no pussy metal… Heavy metal is rock’n’roll.” – Lemmy
You better like it.

Photo tip

I rarely take pictures of the audiences at gigs. I love photography of people and I’m not shy to point people a camera.
The main reason why most of time I don’t is technical. Lights are on stage, not on the fans.

Unless rare moments, and not for all bands, during the show when the fans are at their most excited, they are left in the dark. Either you shoot with flash (on paper forbidden in the pit) or very low shutter times, fast apertures and high ISO. I don’t like both outcomes.
More, to do so, you also miss the three songs time slot allocated to cover the main act.

With Motörhead I made an exceptions, for the 2006 tour, I spent time, and B&W films, purposedly onto the fans ignoring the band on stage I shot the year before. Because Motörhead fans are part of the experience. To be fair, most of biggest metal bands (Slayer, AC/DC or Iron Maiden) have the best hardcore fans to photograph.
In comparison Indie-rock audience is deadly boring, depressing and rarely showing excitement.

There is not many tips on how to shoot music fans. This is related to your photography style, if you haven’t one it will develop with time.
What I can suggest is where to take pictures, in addition to the first row from the pit.
Before the start, there are more lights and the band is not yet on. But people isn’t committed and you may want to excite them. (Often pointing the camera is enough).

The bar before the gig or between the support and the headliners is a good spot. It’s crowded and it’s easier getting unnoticed photographing people in a crowded area. Your subjects are much more interested to get a pint before the start than to worry to be posing for some weird photographer chasing them.

The merchandise stand works similarly but it is less photogenic to me. Beer pints look more rock’n’roll than totes and pins with price tags. If you want to give it a try get out before the end and wait for fans arriving after the show, that is the moment it gets more crowded.

Outside the venue. There’s not even need of a photopass here.

Fans queuing before the door opens, fans excited after the show can be amazing subjects for some cool photography. Choose sold out gigs of big bands with recognisable merchandise to optimize you result. And don’t miss James Mollison website and if you can afford a copy of The Disciples, it is an essential book about rock fans.

~ by Valerio on November 22, 2012.

6 Responses to “Motörhead”

  1. This is really a GREAT post, Mr. Berdini.
    Not only for the topic, but also for the accuracy, the social view of the Lemmy phenomenon and the stunning photos.
    I’ve just one thing to add.
    After ACE OF SPADES the band tried to go different style ways.
    ANOTHER PERFECT DAY, with Brian Robertson (formerly Thin Lizzy) on guitar, showed a little bit more “bluesy” touch.
    ORGASMATRON then introduced some “thrash” elements.
    But you’re right the same……
    LONG LIVE LEMMY KILMINSTER.
    (and the nazi paraphernalia is only a joke, I think like the punksters used to wear nazi symbols without being nazis….)

    • Thanks Diamond,
      I know to fans their albums are much more different than to a more distract listener as I am. I hoped they played Orgasmatron considering Anthrax are the tour support, but they never play that one.
      I agree on the Nazi paraphernalia being a joke, I just find it difficult to like people that jokes with these things. It’s me not Lemmy.

  2. sadly the last two times i saw motorhead in rome the crowd was packed full of caspound/forzanuova nazi shite

  3. First band I ever saw live. 1st Nov 1980. Still one of the best gigs I’ve ever been deafened at. Pardon?. Would love a 3 song stint down front for them.

    Great images as ever

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