Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister has been in poor health for the last couple of years, and the band recently had to cut short a few performances or even outright cancel some dates. So the big question for the sold out crowd who filled the Olympia last night was “How is Lemmy?”
The band kicked things off with a lacklustre version of “Bomber”, and despite the best efforts of guitarist Phil Campbell and drummer Mikkey Dee, it was obvious that Lemmy was low on energy. To his credit, he gave everything he had, and after a few songs he seemed to find a renewed strength, but many songs were played a tad slower, and as such lacked the usual ferocity that Motörhead’s material has.
Lemmy fared better on slower songs like “The Chase is Better Than the Catch” or “Metropolis”, but a classic like “Ace of Spades” dragged and fell a little short of its target. The very rowdy crowd (I was pushed, shoved, stepped on and had beer spilled on me) seemed to appreciate nonetheless, or were giving Lemmy the sendoff he deserves. For a long time we thought Lemmy could live forever, but now at 69 years old (he’ll hit 70 on December 24th), he sadly looks like he’s near the end of the road. The show wasn’t a disaster, but I’ve seen Motörhead many times over the years, and last night’s performance wasn’t up to snuff. Lemmy has said before that he’d like to die on stage, and sadly he might get his wish. I left before thinker because I couldn’t bear to hear them limp through “Overkill”. Judging by the amount of people wearing Motörhead shorts outside, I wasn’t the only one who felt like that. Still, I’m glad I saw Lemmy one last time; I’ll have a Jack & Coke in honour of a true legend of rock.
Special guests Anthrax on the other hand gave a stellar performance that might have contributed to making the headliner lacklustre. Despite having reached their 50’s, they still attack the stage with the contagious ferocity of perpetual teenagers. The band dusted off “Medusa”, a deep cut from 1985’s “Spreading the Disease”, and basically plowed through a set of classic material (including “Fight ’em ’til You Can’t” from their latest, which is fast becoming a concert staple) from the opener “Madhouse” to the closer “Indians” which spawned a gigantic moshpit. The band also offered a terrific version of Black Sabbath’s “Neon Knights”, from the Dio tribute album, but for such a short set, I would have preferred to avoid a third cover (granted, “Got the Time” and “Antisocial” have become bonafide Anthrax songs over the years). Always appreciative of our city, Scott Ian took the time to mention the tight bond the band has with Montreal and how often they’ve visited us over the years. Another great set from these guys, and with a new album in the can and slated for release early next year, let’s hope their next visit is as headliners so they can mine their back catalog a little bit more.
Opening the evening was Quebec’s “Dance Laury Dance”. The band offered cliché punk metal, that often teased being interesting but never panned out. They did a good job of warming up the crowd though, and their singer had the best line of the night when, faced with a crowd reaction not up to his expectations, he said “You guys sound like Longueuil on a Tuesday morning.”