Concert Review: Motorhead at Mayhem Festival in Atlanta
After a couple weeks of seeing what the rest of the country had to offer, the Mayhem Festival parked their rigs and tourbuses at Lakewood Amphitheatre (the kids may know it better by its corporate moniker — Aaron’s Amphitheatre) in Atlanta, Georgia for one pure day of hell raising fun. The roaming festival organizers didn’t mess around when assembling some of the hardest hitting acts in metal for the trip. The afternoon side stages played host to none other than Asking Alexandria, Devil Wears Prada and Anthrax.
Not only were the amplifiers busting at the seams, there were motorcycle stuntmen doing aerial acrobatics, interesting men and women showing off every variety of tattoo the imagination can conjure up and beer may have played second fiddle to the water for the afternoon. Temperatures crested in the mid-90s on the grounds of Lakewood, yet few seemed to mind. The crowds crammed in ever closer to the stage in the converted parking lot just outside the amphitheater. Water sprayed the crowd as a sea of hands carried a never-ending wave of crowd surfers into the waiting arms of security.
As the heat dampened ever so slightly, the masses spilled into the pavilion for the four main acts of the evening. As I Lay Dying started off the headlining block with headbanging gusto, flexing plenty of muscle. They gave way to a British band who should need no introduction, Motorhead. The heavy metal group has been around in various incarnations for the past 37 years. Its safe to say that these guys were tearing up guitars and blistering drum kits while some of the afternoon bands were still sucking on their mamas’ teats. Its hard to imagine heavy metal without Motorhead and what they did to spark the musical genre in the late-70s and 80s.
By all accounts Lemmy (Ian Kilmister) is a bad man. Be it the “don’t f%*k with me” mutton chops, the hat from the cowboy he ate for lunch, or the voice that sounds like it crawled through a field of glass. This is a man who you don’t want to mess with as he abuses the bass guitar at 67 years of age.
Lemmy and lead guitarist Phil Campbell don’t thrash around the stage like the yougin’s of Metal, but don’t equate that lack of excess energy with their ability to rock. They can still bring it after all these years. During their Mayhem set at Lakewood, they primarily stuck with the hits to build their set, which clocked in at just at an hour. They laid down “Bomber” and “Overkill,” turned up the heat with a little “Damage Case” and generally sampled pretty evenly across their extensive album catalog. Lemmy introduced a few of the songs and talked about not getting around the States on tour much, but largely the band skipped the mindless chit chat to pack in more music.
While Lemmy, Phil and Mikkey Dee were great, it was the crowd that left a little to be desired. In the pavilion, and dotted across the lawn, few people were on their feet to throb along with the beat. The post song applause was always appreciative, yet never bordered on rabid like we’d see later in the evening with Slayer. There were a few times Lemmy called out for a response from the crowd, only to get back hushed replies to which he had to goad them to use something other than their inside voices. It was almost like these elder statesmen of Metal had been overlooked for the younger hellions. Maybe it was the collective age of the audience, or perhaps an ignorance of where Metal’s roots truly lie, but it was a tad bit disheartening nonetheless.
In all, Motorhead played a great set complete with pillars of smoke for Mikkey Dee’s drum solos, a growling snarl from Lemmy and even the cast of the “Big Bang Theory” transformed into bobble heads, manically bouncing around on the band’s amps. Lemmy and the boys were a fitting band to plug into this ripe Mayhem Festival line-up to keep the music juices flowing.
Motorhead Setlist : Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta, GA
July 14, 2012
2) Damage Case
3) I Know How to Die
4) Stay Clean
5) Over the Top
6) The Chase Is Better Than the Catch
7) The One to Sing the Blues
8) Going to Brazil
9) Killed by Death
10) Ace of Spades