Motorhead No Sleep 'til Hammermith Review

Live. Released 1981.  

BBC Review

...this is the band in its natural element...

Sid Smith 2007

Not so much a wall of sound as the sound of a wall falling on top of you, the basic game plan with a Motorhead gig is to play numbers louder and faster than their studio counterparts. The hair-raising rendition of “Bomber” here makes the original sound as though it’s suffering from an iron deficiency. Rumoured to routinely operating at 126 decibels when in concert (think of a vast sold-out baseball stadium with every punter yelling at top of their voice!), it’s a wonder there wasn’t a national shortage of hearing aids after this tour.

Recorded in Leeds and at two sell-out concerts in Newcastle’s City Hall (the latter for younger fans unable to attend gigs at an 18-only venue), this is the band in its natural element, on a concert stage in front of a horde of their adoring fans. Hitting the number one slot the moment it was released, this is Motorhead at the peak of their power and popularity, riding high on the crest of Ace of Spades’ success the previous year.

‘This one is a slow one so you can get mellowed out’ shouts Lemmy before leading another assault on any eardrums that happen to be within a three mile radius. Of course, “Capricorn”, the number in question, is a might slow by Motorhead standards but more than enough to tucker out most other bands attempting their speed-metal sprint.

There are some live albums which magically capture the moment when everything comes right: the performances, the choice of material, the performances themselves, the crowd, and the whole convoluted backstory leading up to this very point. Whilst this falls short of that kind of classic status it nevertheless shows them at their peak enjoying a head-banging communion with their leather-clad kin. They would never again achieve the commercial return they did with this one but that doesn’t really matter. Their work here was done, having spawned a whole new metal genre and set an example of unparalleled excess which new generations would attempt to emulate.

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