Motorhead Glastonbury-11



June 2015

Louder Than War boss and Membranes frontman John Robb caught the veteran heroic Lemmy and crew at Glastonbury.

It’s broad daylight.

It’s the main stage of Glastonbury and there he is Lemmy – the reptilian uber god of true rock n roll, the last man standing from the now fast disappearing era when this kind of stuff really mattered.

If you could look into Lemmy’s eyes behind those impenetrable shades you would see the same kind of screaming madness of Little Richard, the early Beatles, the MC5 – the holy lineage of true rock n roll.

Motorhead are one of the great British bands.

Motorhead are one of the great bands.

If you need to tell them what this quicksilver stuff called rock n roll is you play them Motorhead.

Few bands define a genre so perfectly.

They enscapulate everything and yet are not trapped at the same time.

They were more punk than most punk bands, more heavy than most metal bands but they are neither.

Motorhead are beyond genre.

Glastonbury in the afternoon is so wrong it’s right.

Lemmy stands stock still onstage oozing feral rock n roll thrills and a desperate danger. His bass is not a weapon, it’s more like a bazooka as he deals fantastic bass lines that growl like his holy larynx.

These are bass lines of a lead guitar player versed in classic late fifties pop melody and the jagged illicit thrill of early rock n roll. Lemmy comes from the time before the dark stuff existed. He remembers the sudden, life changing, energy thrill of rock n roll when it first arrived and Motorhead are built to deal this out eternally and this is what makes them so damn special.

Lemmy is defying gravity, death, fashion and the vagaries of the modern music world to become a nocturnal national treasure and the band sound fantastic, dusting off a no compromise set of new and old songs that arguably all sound the same and yet different.

The same because they have perfected what they do.

There is no room for manoeuvre in the best possible way. In Motorhead there is no space for current trends because, like the Ramones, Motorhead have distilled the secret art of rock n roll into a perfection that seems so easy but is actually almost impossible to do.

Motorhead Glastonbury-2

This is not metal.

Motorhead play hard and heavy but they play great pop songs that are ground out by Lemmy’s voice that is the epitome of lived in and sounds like a million nights on the road – this is the gritty truth of the romance at the heart of renegade rock n roll and its a beautiful thing to hear.

Like a blues survivor Lemmy looks immaculate.

The health issues have been brushed aside like decades of pale imitators and he looks oddly healthy and oozes a dangerous charisma like the last gunslinger in town as he delivers these high octane sermons with his Jack Daniel dragon breath.

Some may wonder why Motorhead are playing Glastonbury but it all makes sense- Lemmy is the spine from the classic Space Ritual Hawkwind- that was the ultimate British seventies trips album and the soundtrack to the early Glastonbury. This is Lemmy’s party and Motorhead fit perfectly even if they are in the broad daylight like bats out of hell.

The band has been around for ever and their deceptively simple formulae of grinding bass runs, guitar flash and pounding caveman drums feel like all you all you need to know about rock n roll. This is from the gut, no frills powerful rock n roll. It sounds like a turbocharged car revving, it sound like hell boiling over and it sounds dangerous and it sounds thrilling.
Some drunken goofs dance ironically in fancy dress next to me.
They think liking Motorhead is ironic- the stuff of devil signs with their stupid spoilt fingers- these people don’t understand.

Motorhead are perfection.

Photo gallery:

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. John,
    You have described them perfectly…the new generation of dirt box disco are standing on lemmies shoulders….brilliant…

  2. watched the coverage on the tv as i couldn’t justify the cost of the ticket. the idiots in fancy dress and the irony dancers pissed me right off. Motorhead are perfection, Motorhead are a way of life for those of us that understand this. in these (what i think we have to realise are) twilight years for the band they deserve better than drunken goofs in fancy dress but in lemmys own words “they all get the same show” consummate professionals to the very end.
    Motorhead for life.

  3. Yeah -I always thought they were a very honest band who never pretended to be doing anything important ,unlike some of their peers .In short a non-pretentious ,total B-S free zone.

  4. This is an exceptional review it understands Motorhead ; they epitomised the 1980 grebo biker lifestyle and this performance bashed the Glastonbury air so hard it bruised ; Lemmy God Bless him is very obviously running on near empty , but would you mess with an injured lion ?? !!!!! and the set list was from Heavy Metal Heaven , oh and lastly the drum solo was so flipping great it made perfect sense , it even took my breath away .

  5. Excellent review. Personally, don’t do Glastonbury – too many people – but Motorhead, The Fall and several others lurking in the the other stages would have made me think twice. I do wish that some people would stop regarding Lemmy and co as a sort of Status Quo joke. They can really play and everytime I’ve seen them they never dissapoint. Just hope Lemmy can keep going. I’m sure Florence and the Machine are really great live but everytime I’ve heard her being interviewed, I neasrly throw the radio out of the window. I mean, what world does this woman live in? It certainly has no similarity to mine.

  6. “vagrancies” ????? ROFLMAO !!!

    I think you mean “vagiaries”…..

    Sorry, you can’t blame that one on predictive text…..

    • At last, someone speaking the truth. I’ve seen them play a few times before Lemmy’s health scare and Motorhead are a shadow of what they were these days. Watching a clearly confused Lemmy mumbling random lines from ‘Ace Of Spades’ while playing ‘Overkill’ is truly uncomfortable viewing. It pains me to say it, but it’s time to call it a day.

  7. Lets all move to get Lemmy knighted for services to rock and roll, and life in general. The world needs Motorhead right now. We can all learn something from the big man.

    Honorary seat in the House of Lords perhaps? Murder One set to 11.

    Long live the King of Rock and Roll.

  8. Love motorhead seen them many times but feel glastonbury was awful and seen better days, drink drugs and health problems are taking there toll, good on him for carrying on

  9. It isn’t really a review, is it? A review would talk about the good and bad points of the gig.

    I have been going to Motorhead gigs for 35 years and thought that Glastonbury was a gig too far for Lemmy. The man is a shadow of his former self and his obvious confusion during Overkill was painful to see. Hopefully, he will realise that the time has come to give up playing live; gigs like this only damage his, and the band’s, reputation.

  10. Motorhead ARE metal – but from the same very early metal template that produced Black Sabbath.

    Both Motorhead and Sabbath are at heart, BLUES bands. (After all, early rock ‘n’ roll was simply 12-bar blues played very fast. And it carried that black magic/voodoo/meeting-Satan-at-the-crossroads lyric that the old bluesmen sang about.)

    Motörhead’s blues is not only very fast but very loud and very aggressive. It’s blues nonetheless; the band themselves acknowledge as much when they lay down a slow acoustic blues on many of their albums – such as ‘Whorehouse Blues’ from 2004’s Inferno.

    For me, Lemmy in in direct Apostolic Succession to Robert Johnson, Howling Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Hound Dog Taylor, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. Bless his whisky soaked heart!

  11. I had never seen Motörhead before until last weekend, when as a festival punter at Glastonbury I went along to their Friday afternoon slot.
    Frankly watching these iconic legends left a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye, Rock n Roll at Glastonbury is in the minority, if it’s not on Radio 1 being play listed then it doesn’t matter at that festival.
    But these boys showed up and showed the kids what RnR is all about, it’s still alive, it still has a pulse and Motörhead have a message to send, in Lemmys words-

  12. Sorry John although i agree with your description of Motorhead 100% as a review of the gig its off the mark……I fucking love Motorhead and have seen them 35 + times…..The glastonbury gig was fucking awfull, We are Motorhead and damage case were dreadfull and out of time….there were a few songs were Lem got through them but still slow and lackluster….as for the overkill debarkle ….christ……I saw them last in birmingham last year and it was bad….i vowed to never see them live again….the legacy is being fucked….for many people that glastonbury gig will be the only memory of the greatest band of all time and thats sad….Lemmy can still whip up excellent RnR in the studio but live its over…….and believe me i would give my left bollock for him to even go back to his 2012 form but its done….how much more do fans want from the man? Do Motorheadbangers really want to see him conk out on stage for the sake of them seeing Metropolis or overkill for the millionth time. That band has given us all the finest music in history but there comes a time when Lem needs to know hes doing himself and the band in…..


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