Kult Review: Motorhead, Clutch and Valient Thorr at Best Buy Theatre, Feb. 28
It’s become an annual tradition for me to see Motörhead. The seminal metal-punk power trio returned to New York City this year with not just a brand new studio album, The Wörld is Yours, but with a full-length feature documentary about founder, bassist, vocalist and hard rock icon Lemmy Kilmister (LEMMY: 49% Motherfucker. 51% Son of a Bitch). Rounding out the triple-band bill were North Carolina rockers Valient Thorr, who have previously toured North America with Motörhead, and modern-day heavy blues-rock band Clutch.
Valient Thorr strutted onstage with confidence and delivered roughly 30 minutes of high-powered, sweat-drenched rock and roll. I’m not familiar with their music at all, so I haven’t a clue as to what they played, but the sold-out crowd definitely loved every song. The rhythm section of drummer Lucian Thorr and bassist Nitewolf was as tight as a clenched fist to the face, while the twin-guitar wizardry of Voiden and Eiden Thorr flowed effortlessly much like Thin Lizzy’s Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson. Singer Valient Himself was electric throughout the set, dude’s a born frontman. Though I can’t say I was particularly taken by their music, I was thoroughly entertained watching them perform.
Up next was Clutch who, like Motörhead, have been delivering their brand of rock on their own terms for a long-ass time. Unfortunately for the Maryland-based group, its groove-heavy music fell a little short in intensity, when placed between the energetic rock of Valient Thor and Motörhead.
That said, guitarist Tim Sult and bassist Dan Maines are undeniable talents, and singer Neil Fallon has the perfect voice for blues-rock. But the best part for me was definitely watching drummer extraordinaire Jean-Paul Gastner—especially his drum solo. Half of the band’s set was comprised of rock tunes, whereas the other half was made of directionless jam sessions. Talented band; wrong tour.
Finally, it was time for the loudest live band in the world—and I’m not talking about Manowar. 36 years since its inception, Motörhead are still louder than everyone else and from the way guitarist Phil Campbell, drummer Mikkey Dee and bassist/vocalist Lemmy played, they’re not winding down any time soon.
“We Are Motörhead” opened the set, reminding their fans this is the way rock and heavy music should sound like. Old-school favorites like “Stay Clean,” “Metropolis,” Over the Top,” “The Chase is Better Than the Catch,” and the obligated “Ace of Spades” sounded as good as ever, while new cuts “Get Back in Line” and “I Know How to Die”—both from The Wörld is Yours—sounded fresh and classic at the same time.
Contemporary Motörhead classics “Rock Out,” “In the Name of Tragedy” and “The Thousand Names of God,” as well as the overlooked ’87 track “Just ‘Cos You Got the Power” and an excellent version of “Killed by Death” (featuring veteran German heavy metal singer Doro Pesch and former Danzig and Murphy’s Law guitarist Todd Youth), sounded vital and powerful. As the band reached the end of “Overkill,” my ears were completely shot. You’re not at a rock concert if you’re feeling comfortable, and Motörhead is still the band to be scared of.