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Motorhead 25 & Alive - Boneshaker: Live At Brixton Academy DVD

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Monday, September 2, 2002 @ 2:06 PM


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“Everybody in the critics’ world said we’d be finished in a year,” Motorhead’s inimitable frontman Lemmy notes while reflecting on “the good old days” during the “oral history” segment of the band’s new DVD. “And I’m still saying ‘fuck you’ to them -- that’s a big part of it. The other part of it is I’m not trained for anything else.”

Thank god. Both for Lemmy holding a grudge for so long -- and never learning another trade. The hard rock world would be a hell of a lot more boring were it not for Motorhead. The music might sound different as well, because whether they want to admit it or not, Motorhead’s raw, balls-out sound and devil-may-care attitude influenced a ton of bands over the years.

And it’s not like Lemmy hasn’t had plenty of opportunity to say “fuck it” and quit -- or worse -- over the years. He’s dealt with enough line-up changes, record company hassles and mainstream indifference to kill dozens of bands. And he’s ingested an unimaginable quantity of substances -- the guy used to wear a six-pack on his bullet belt for Christ’s sake -- yet seems no worse for the wear, just older and more grizzled.

On Oct. 22, 2000, Motorhead celebrated its 25th anniversary -- how’s that for a fuck you! -- with a couple thousand fans at London’s historic Brixton Academy and captured it on film for posterity’s sake. Now -- two years and another album and tour later -- everyone else can share in the festivities with the 25 & Alive – Boneshaker home video/DVD.

It’s worth the wait. Not only do you get the entire 23-song, two-hour anniversary show -- along with a few surprises -- there’s a bunch of extra stuff to help you get a bit more up close and personal with the band, if that’s your thing. The show is typical Motorhead rock and roll. Fueled by Phil Campbell’s buzzsaw riffing and Mikkey Dee’s galloping drumming and powered by Lemmy’s signature dragster-engine bass lines and gravel-throated vocals, it’s loud, fast and totally in your face. Eight dive-bombing mobile cameras put you right up there on stage with the band -- although the hyperkinetic editing sometimes can make you dizzy.

The set boasts a substantially different track listing than the band’s last live album, 1998’s Everything Louder Than Everything Else, which is a bonus. Of course some old standards remain -- “No Class,” “Metropolis,” “Orgasmatron” -- as do a smattering of more recent classics -- “I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care)” and “Sacrifice.” But Motorhead dusts of some “golden oldies” like “Damage Case,” which the band hadn’t played in England since 1981, and “Dead Men Tell No Tales” from way back in the day. In fact it’s so old, Lemmy tells the Brixton audience, “It’s older than a lot of you.”

A few special guests come on to join in the fun -- including Lemmy and Campbell’s sons on “Killed By Death” -- the most notable being long-time Motorhead guitarist Fast Eddie Clarke who comes on for a run-through of “The Chase Is Better Than The Catch.” Though he spends most of the time seemingly trying to stay out of the way, his being a part of the show was a nice touch. Clarke returns during the encores for the big “Overkill” finale. No sign of Philthy Animal Taylor, however.

Queen’s Brian May also shows up to pay his respects during the encores, and peels off a few nifty solos as well as Motorhead’s legendary bomber-frame lighting rig descends from the rafters. Add a load of black balloons with the “motorhead” stamped on them, confetti and a football team’s worth of guys running around trying not to skewer each other with guitars as the show concludes and you’ve got quite a party. Now it’s only three years ‘til the 30th anniversary bash!

Unlike a lot of DVDs, where the “bonus footage” consists of drunken backstage shenanigans and fart-lighting hijinks, most of the 45 minutes or so of extras and whatnot on 25 & Alive is worth your time. A four-song chunk from the band’s 2001 Wacken Open Air Festival performance includes ass-ripping version of “Ramones” and “Shoot You In The Back,” which are not on the anniversary show set list. The horrific music video for “Sacrifice,” with its graphic World War II footage and closing shot of Lemmy with half his face blown off, is downright shocking. There’s also a rare quiet moment for Motorhead, with Lemmy and Campbell teaming for an acoustic version of “Ain’t No Nice Guy.”

And be sure to check out the aforementioned history of Motorhead, narrated by Lemmy himself. Although he doesn’t dwell very long on anything, he does touch on just about everything about the band –- as well as his pre-Motorhead days. Some of his commentary is priceless, be it about former members –- “Bad habits catch up with people and their brains fry,” he notes of the classic Taylor, Clarke-era trio, “We became three poached eggs” –- or why he formed Motorhead in the first place –- “The only way I could stop being fired was to start my own band.”

Thank god he did.

* * * ½

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