Is the Motorhead Motorboat the weirdest gig ever?


Later this month, Motörhead play “the loudest boat in the world”: the Motörboat, a cruise ship leaving Miami and travelling to Mexico via Key West, with a boatload of metal maniacs playing each night, including Megadeth, Anthrax, Down, Testament, and Zakk Wylde. Activities planned include Mexican Fiestas, fancy dress nights, film screenings, all-star jams, spoken word performances and… pyjama parties?

If there’s a better or more bizarre gig this month, we haven’t heard about it (well, apart from that rumour about a metal band playing an iceberg, that is). Expect a report later this month (or experience it first hand: some tickets are still available from here). Until then, here are some of rock’s weirdest gigs:

1. Metallica Play Antarctica

Just in the last year Metallica played a desolate and hostile land populated by strange creatures: a land without laws, where the weather is your enemy, none of the people are local and everyone wears ridiculous furry hats. But enough about Glastonbury. In December 2013 Metallica became the first band to play on all seven of the world continents with a gig in Antarctica for a small group of fans and research scientists inside a translucent dome on a helipad. The audience listened via wireless headphones to protect the lickle ears of the penguins. Elbow fans from Glasto, meanwhile, are still trying to staunch the bleeding.

2. Unfathomable Ruination Get Locked In A Box

Some people say that modern art is rubbish – a load of attention-seeking, half-baked ideas about unmade beds and dead lifestock. But they’re WRONG, as Portugese artist João Onofre’s art installation “Box Sized Die featuring Unfathomable Ruination, 2007-2014”, proved when it came to London in July. Locking death band Unfathomable Ruination in a sound-proof air-tight metal cube and getting them to play until their oxygen ran out was a BRILLIANT idea and if João wants to come to our office anytime this week and do the same to Classic Rock’s online editor when he’s in charge of the stereo, we’ll buy him an Egg and Cress sandwich and a packet of Worcester Sauce French Fries from the canteen downstairs.

3. The Cramps play Napa State Mental Hospital

“Somebody told me you people are crazy! But I’m not so sure about that – you seem to be all right to me!” In 1978, psychobilly legends the Cramps played a gig at Californian psychiatric hospital Napa State Hospital. If João Onofre (see above) had been involved it would have been packaged as a clever commentary on mental illness – a treatise, if you will, on the staged psychosis of the band and the genuine mania of the audience and Kirsty Wark woulda yammered on about it on Newsnight’s Cultural Review. But this was punk rock and it was just a mad band playing another mad gig to yet another mad audience.

4. Foo Fighters Play Homoerotic Country. To Some Idiots. From A Truck.

In September 2011, those fun-loving party-starters from the Westboro Baptist ‘Church’ decided to picket a Kansas City gig by the nicest men in rock after the Foos’ comedy video Hot Buns set off old man Phelps’ “hot man muffins” Google alert the month before. Overheard shouting “But I can barely get a WANK out of this!”, Phelps did the only thing that made sense: sent his retarded offspring to picket the Foos’ gig armed with placards saying “Thank God For Dead Soldiers” and “Soldiers Die 4 Fag Marriage” and other philosophically questionable and frankly mental things. So the Foo Fighters dressed up as a gang of good ol’ boys, pulled up alongside them in a flatbed and sang a song of gay love straight into their uncomprehending faces. Fred Phelps died earlier this year. The two events may be unconnected.

5. The White Stripes Play The Royal Chelsea Hospital

In 2007, aware that their album title Icky Thump was a rubbish mis-spelling of some old English phrase, Michigan’s Jack and Meg White dressed up as cockney Pearly Kings and Queens for the album cover and then played an acoustic set for the Chelsea Pensioners. ‘Ecky thump’ is a Lancashire saying. Only 250 miles out, Jack.

Rumours that one Chelsea pensioner was later heard commenting, “Bleedin’ nora – that geezer’s voice! Sounded like someone strangling a Postman Pat. Even Arnhem sounded better than that. I feel a bit Pat and Mick…” are just malicious and made up by me, just then.

6. Manic Street Preachers Appear On Strictly Come Dancing

In 1994, the Manic Street Preachers’ performance of Faster on Top Of The Pops – with singer James Dean Bradfield in the kind of black balaclava favoured by the IRA – drew a record number of complaints to the BBC (over 25,000). In 2010 they followed that up with a performance so subversively boring that it went completely unnoticed to 99% of the viewers of Strictly Come Dancing, with only one viewer, Daphne McDonald (@daphneswingshard), bothering to tweet: “Just back from filling up the kettle. Who were the fat waiters? #heymacarena”.

7. Brian May Plays ‘God Save The Queen’ On The Roof of Buckingham Palace

8. Obligatory Mention of The Beatles Playing on A Roof Oh yeah: 45 years ago this year, the Beatles played on a roof.

Join Motörhead’s Motorboat, September 22-26. Tickets and info available from