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Motorhead, live in London

The world's loudest band play cavernous north London shed

It's been quite a year for Lemmy: illness, recovery, a change of lifestyle and the captaining of a cruise ship. Now his band are back in London, supported by Boss Hoss and The Damned. But what does it all mean?

The Boss Hoss are a lot of fun Opening tonight’s proceedings are the ten-man Berlin country rock troupe The Boss Hoss. While they might not have the same status as the other names on the bill, the cowboy-hatted crew warm up the half-full arena with their faux Texan demeanour and energetic showmanship. And besides, how can you not love a band whose brass section alternate between lucha masks and sombreros? Closing on a silly as a sack of springs cover of Word Up by Cameo also gets the pre-drinkers’ lungs primed and ready for the rest of the evening.

You still can’t mess with The Damned It’s interesting that the crowd tonight is near enough a 5050 split between punks and metalheads – everywhere you look it’s either a mohawk or receding ponytail. But then again Motörhead were one of the bands who crossed both factions with relative ease by simply not giving a fuck either way. Tonight then it’s fitting that one of the nation’s beloved punk bands are on support duty and deliver the goods with such rambunctious enthusiasm they could easily have been the bill-toppers. Ploughing through the big hits including New Rose, Ignite and Neat Neat Neat, the pit down front is slowly starting to open…

Lemmy is God Like Ozzy, there are so many rumours about the Motörhead frontman that the fictional figure has all-but replaced the man himself in the collective hive mind of music fans everywhere. But even if the boozy, druggy, fucked-up stories aren’t true, the man on stage is nothing short of an icon. Having formed The Head in 1975, he’s still at the top nearly 40 years later – despite ongoing illnesses and having to quit smoking (we know!). Standing resolutely still throughout the set with three monitors and a fan surrounding him, he commands the thousands of fans in front of him like the general he is.

You don’t need a stage show to headline Wembley While some bands that come through the hallowed auditorium of Wembley Arena bring more fireworks and effects than if the Fourth Of July celebrations were conducted by Michael Bay, Motörhead have stripped it back to simply a load of amps and a snaggletooth backdrop. Mikkey Dee sits atop the amps smashing his kit to pieces and Phil Campbell runs around the front, but aside from the odd steam release there’s no stage show. But you don’t need it when the aura surrounding this band is staggering.

**They can blast out the tunes **Packing in 15 songs plus drum and guitar solos into a set is not only great value for money, but there are more bona fide heavy metal classics on display than that driving songs CD you bought. From Metropolis to No Class to Shoot You In The Back to Just ‘Cos You Got The Power – the loudest band on the planet pummel eardrums but get the Motörheadbangers moving in the process. Closing on “that song again” and Overkill, it’s a masterclass in how a band can stand the test of time without really changing at all. It’s balls-out heavy metal – warts and all. And we love it.