I’m not big on tribute bands. I struggle with the concept to a large degree although I admit I did see Kiss last year, a tribute band if ever there is one. Seeing a tribute band usually means that an original hard-working outfit loses out, with humans typically opting for comfort and familiarity over originality and change. In all my years watching hard rock and metal, I can list the tribute outfits I’ve seen on two fingers. So why Motörheadache? Well, you’ll never get the chance to hear a full set of Motörhead classics ever again, and apparently this lot are highly regarded. So, on yet another hot and steamy night in South Wales I trotted along to The Globe along with my oldest mate Brett, to see what all the fuss was about.
The first thing you noticed when arriving in Roath was the number of Motörhead shirts dotted around the place. One thing Motörhead fans like is their shirts and I was no exception, clad in my Motörhead Cymru shirt, which as usual drew many admiring enquiries. One of only 10, thanks at this point to Brett for getting me one and to long time MHB Gareth Richards who organised the print run. Brett incidentally, was clad in his freshly purchased Motorhead Rainbow Bar & Grill shirt, courtesy of his recent US road trip. Looked brilliant too! The audience were held on the pavement until much later than advertised, and as the cool of the night rolled in it was possibly the most pleasant time I’ve had stood outside a dubious pizza joint surrounded by Motörhead England shirts. A curious cross over of fans, with the usual Motörhead Bangers next to younger fans, maybe curious about the Motörhead sound and crusty old timers, anxious to keep the Lemmy name alive.
Opening proceedings was local outfit Holy Diver UK (5). As the name suggests, these guys are a Dio tribute act and whilst they did a reasonable job it’s fair to say that they were less than inspiring. With the lead singer doing his very best to hit the notes but failing far short, it’s difficult to be too critical. However, the point of being a tribute to one of the voices in hard rock is surely to be able to replicate their sound to a certain standard. Guitarist John Clark, who also manages the band and plays in Journey UK, was able to hit the riffs to staples such as Holy Diver, Rainbow In The Dark, Evil Eyes and of course opener Stand Up And Shout but there isn’t the visceral edge that was so essential when Viv Campbell first sliced the air with the opening track on Holy Diver. Focusing very much on early Dio, by the time the band has reached Heaven & Hell it was time for a breath of fresh air. Dio needs to be aggressive, fast paced and most of all have the soaring vocals. It wasn’t happening here. Still, the audience proved once again that old school metal is king in South Wales with a huge reception and plenty of horns raised.
Rob Campbell leads Motörheadache, his own tribute to the late Lemmy Kilmister’s music. From Yorkshire, Motörheadache (8) has been doing the rounds for over 15 years and have earned a solid reputation. Looking every inch the main man, Campbell was joined by John “The Beast” on drums and stand-in guitarist Ian “Fast Hilly” Hill (Not the Judas Priest bass player - Ed). The set up was simple, but the attention to detail is impressive, with a Marshall stack and Murder One bass head incorporated. Of course, it’s no good having all the gear and no idea and it’s what the band delivers that forms the impression. Kicking off a strong 90-minute set with the rip-roaring Iron Fist, the band moved at pace with an opening salvo that included Stay Clean, Stone Dead Forever and (We Are) The Road Crew. If you were fortunate enough to see Motörhead live, one of the joys was that there were always a few mistakes littered throughout the set; hell, this is live music. And so Motörheadache proved, with a couple of ragged endings and some misappropriated lyrics (especially during Bomber) but this only gave an even more authentic flavour.
The crowd, around 120 or so, reacted in different ways, with some early moshing giving way to head banging and general shape throwing. Full marks to the lady who joined the band on Jailbait and gave a serious show of hard core head banging for the entire track, whilst the shapes thrown during Going To Brazil by a couple next to me was hilarious and admirable in equal measure. Few surprises in the set, with nothing included later than 1991’s 1916. Highlights included Campbell’s eerie Kilmister (or Lemmy Kidderminster as he is also known as) presence and vocal delivery; closing your eye transported you back to every Motörhead gig I’d ever been too, whilst the rendition of Killed By Death, Louie Louie and the thunderous Motörhead all earned massive cheers.
Ace Of Spades inevitably drew the highest vocal participation from the crowd, whilst the closing Overkill was, in my opinion, well ropey. Overall though, Motörheadache is a band that is well worth a watch. It doesn’t change my opinion about tribute artists one bit, but if you want to wallow in nostalgia for a night, then these guys do the business.