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MOTORHEAD's Touring Horde Rocks San Diego's Socks Off

By Aniruddh "Andrew" Bansal

My rating points:

Related: Lemmy interview | San Diego Picture Gallery | LA Picture Gallery | LA show review

January 31st 2011, House Of Blues, San Diego CA: Having just seen the first night of the tour in Anaheim less than a week back, I made the trip to San Diego to see the tour for a second time, and with Clutch completing the touring line-up on this occasion along with the prospect of being part of the House Of Blues San Diego crowd for the first time in 18 months, I had plenty to look forward to.

The queue of people outside the venue waiting to get in was long, and the pre-show interest for this sold out show during the early evening on a Monday was quite admirable. In fact, if you took a walk along the street where the House Of Blues was located, you would have been asked for a spare ticket by a desperate last-minute ticket buyer every two steps of your walk. As I got into the venue and made my way downstairs, it all came back to rather quickly as to how awesome this venue really is as compared to other House Of Blues venues I've been to. Rather than being pushed into oblivion somewhere around the back corner or upper level of the venue, the merchandise stand was situated on the left side of the general admission floor, at a place where everyone could see it and easily get to. All this made for a perfect setting for tonight's show.

Valient Thorr got things going, and I straightaway noticed a sea change in the crowd response. People here were actually willing to give this opening band a chance, and as a result, soon found themselves enjoying the music. The band laid emphasis on their fifth and latest album "Stranger" as they played four out of their seven songs from that album, namely "Doublecrossed", "Future Humans", "Night Terrors" and "Sudden Death Is Nothing". The number of headbangers in the crowd kept rising steadily with every passing song, and everyone seemed to embrace Valient Himself's one-of-a-kind showmanship. I myself couldn't help but yell a huge "Yeah!" every time he asked the crowd the one question he loves to ask, "You know what I'm talking about?" I found "Heatseeker" to be the best song of their set even though the other songs were probably as good as that one.

Towards the end of the set, Valient Himself jumped into the crowd and to everyone's amusement, started asking people to sit down. After he managed to get almost the entire crowd to sit down on the floor, he sat in the middle of it and started performing a "rowing" action. It was quite something to be a part of as a number of people started following his actions and joined in the fun. Whenever I see a band put on a live show, it's uniqueness of this kind that I'm instantly able to appreciate. It shows that the band is not only making an effort to play the music to the best of their abilities, but are also doing that bit extra to come across as entertainers instead of mere robots playing a bunch of songs. After going through with their set, they thanked the crowd for a great response and bid goodbye, with a promise to return soon. Their performance tonight has made them one of my favorite live bands. Valient Thorr rules!!

Here's their complete set list:

Future Humans
Infinite Lives
Night Terrors
Sudden Death Is Nothing
Sleeper Awakes

After a brief intermission, Maryland hard rockers Clutch took the stage next. I loved their set when they opened for Black Label Society late last year, despite the fact that the LA crowd that night came across as rather overly closed-minded in their reaction to the band's music, which was in no way a true indicator of the band's performance. It was going to be a totally different experience this time around, as the knowledgeable San Diego crowd were singing along to most of their songs, including the two songs from their most recent release "Strange Cousins From The West". "50,000 Unstoppable Watts" was one such song that drew quite a cheer.

Neil Fallon proved himself once again as a charming frontman, and his facial expressions and on-stage mannerisms went a long way towards entertaining this packed house tonight. Tim Sult was delightful as ever on guitar, and Dan Maines' bass was very clear and prominent in the mix, which was a good thing because a great bass mix adds tremendous levels of oomph to a band's live sound. Their blues influences was evident in pretty much their entire set, and was a pleasure to listen to, not only for me but for the entire crowd in general. Songs like "Power Player" and "Gravel Road" provided a powerful ending to their set, and left the audience wanting more. I'm glad that the gentlemen in Motorhead like Clutch enough to take them out on a full US tour, and I now look forward to the band's own headlining tour for an even better live Clutch experience.

Here's their complete set list:

Slow Hole to China
50,000 Unstoppable Watts
Struck Down
Cypress Grove
Texan Book Of The Dead
Pure Rock Fury
Devil And Me
The Mob Goes Wild
Power Player
Gravel Road

After those two amazing opening acts, it was time for Motorhead to crank it up to 11 and give this crowd what they'd really been waiting for. A loud roar went up as Lemmy, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee quietly took their positions on stage, and with Lemmy's words, "Good evening .. we are Motorhead, and we play rock 'n roll!" the place went berserk. Barring a couple of adjustments to Mikkey's drum kit during the first song, the band seemed well past the technical issues they were having on the first night of the tour. As a result, San Diego got a longer and better-sounding show. After "We Are Motorhead" and "Stay Clean", they played the new song "Get Back In Line", from the album "The World Is Yours". It turned out to be a great live song and a good advertisement for the album.

The rest of the set remained the same as Anaheim. I was expecting them to play "Born To Raise Hell" this time around, because I saw it listed in the Anaheim set even though it wasn't played. I was thinking they'd dust it out tonight, but not to be. So it's hard to say whether it'll be featured on the rest of the tour, and is something I'll have to wait and see. Anyway, its absence doesn't affect the set in terms of its impact even one bit.

The crowd was enjoying itself thoroughly, and being in this crowd I enjoyed this show a lot more than the Anaheim show. There was plenty of energy in the pit, but people weren't overly pushing and shoving their way up to the front. They were willing to watch the show and enjoy it from wherever they were in the venue. Mikkey's drum solo also got a louder response from this crowd, something that he definitely appreciated. The band ended their main set with "Ace Of Spades", before they came out back again to the loudest cheer of the night, as they obliged the San Diego gathering with the last offering for the night, "Overkill".

Motorhead proved themselves yet again as the loudest band on the planet and this time, the fans did their bit by coming close to being equally loud. If Motorhead continue to keep up their level of awesomeness with shows like these, I would be willing to travel a distance much greater than 121 miles to see them. All in all, a memorable performance!! \m/

Here's their complete set list:

We Are Motorhead
Stay Clean
Get Back In Line
Over the Top
One Night Stand
Rock Out
Guitar Solo
The Thousand Names of God
I Got Mine
I Know How To Die
The Chase Is Better Than the Catch
In the Name of Tragedy
Drum Solo
Just 'Cos You Got the Power
Going to Brazil
Killed by Death
Ace of Spades


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