I knew it’d take a while for me to get to covering this show; I simply didn’t realize it’d take me more than two years since I wrote about my previous concert experience leading up to this point, which took place just four months prior. But in the case of this particular experience, there are a few moving parts here. I’ll get to that momentarily. But any time from here on in that I write about any of my experiences seeing Motorhead live, there will forever be a big hint of melancholy running through my mind, primarily because Lemmy’s gone. And this article will prove difficult for me to convey my thoughts, and you’ll eventually figure out why.
Let’s set the stage, shall we??
Not too long after I began hosting my college radio show, Ali, alumni volunteer host of Ali’s Little Corner of The World, which aired directly before my show on Thursday afternoons, informed me that her boyfriend was a singer in a New Jersey-based Metal band called Arctic Flame. Ali also is one of the two DJ’s who trained me, which means a lot to me even more than eighteen years later because I widely viewed her and the other guy who trained me to be THE two best DJ’s in the entire station at that time. If I’m not mistaken, she’d asked me if I wanted a copy of his band’s unreleased Jack Frost-produced demo to possibly play on my radio show, since we had that freedom at the time. I’d also invited her to see my band play within the next few weeks at Dock St aka the biggest shithole on that dump of an island.
A good week or two before the show, Ali let me know that her boyfriend would be at the show to pick her up, as I’d be driving her there, and because he apparently wanted to meet me. No, I have no pictures from that show, or I would’ve made a whole separate post on that alone. I just remember, if I’m not mistaken that we performed two shows, one that Saturday night, and another the next night. Ali was front and center; and as we said our goodbyes at the end or our set, she was talking with a man wearing glasses with thick, black hair. Dave Lowe has just shown up right before we wrapped up our set, so he missed everything. But the four of us, meaning Dave and Ali, myself and a former friend of mine who I’ll never mention because he doesn’t deserve to have his name spoken, went to get food at the now-defunct Mike’s Place on New Dorp Lane (it may be closed; but the Greek son of a bitch bought nearly every other diner on the Island since that time).
In short, we bonded very quickly over all things Metal and fake wrestling – and I mean to the point that Ali to this day tells her now-husband that he took her friend away from her!
Not too long after this meeting, Dave called me up and invited me to go with him to see his band open up for Motorhead at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ. A week or two later, that aforementioned former friend of mine and I went to Dave’s job in the mall to buy tickets. It just took my friend telling Dave that “he’s ready to play the game!” for Dave to immediately take an envelope out of his pocket with a smirk on his face. If you watched fake wrestling at the time, then I don’t need to explain how those two understood each other with that statement, clever as it was…and mark-ish as it was.
Now that the history’s out of the way….
On the evening of March 9th, Dave picked me up at my house to head out to Starland Ballroom in Sayreville NJ, to see a PACKED bill. Arctic Flame were the openers to be followed by Zeke, Brand New Sin, Corrosion of Conformity and of course, Motorhead. This would be my first time in Sayreville since I lived there for 5 seconds when I was 14. This would in fact be my first time in this building under the Starland name because, the last time I was anywhere near that building, I was living just seconds away from it and it was a techno club called Hunka Bunka Ballroom.
Also with Dave was a 15-year-old kid named Derek, who happened to live on his block. This kid looked awfully familiar, when I suddenly remembered seeing him in one of the pictures from my first Vangaurd gig just over a month earlier. Quite a bit had changed since that show. The biggest change?
I was fired from the band two weeks prior to this show. Funny enough, while I was initially pissed off, I actually felt relieved afterwards. The band would regret their decision almost immediately, but that’s a story for another time, nothing major though.
Because Derek and I arrived with Dave, we were able to get in and actually watch Motorhead do their soundcheck.
Let me say that again so it registers…..
WE WATCHED PHIL CAMPBELL, MICKEY DEE, AND LEMMY FUCKING KILMISTER DO THEIR SOUNDCHECK.
My first memories of Starland Ballroom will always be Derek and I walking in to feeling the floors vibrate to the point that it felt like the earth was about to fucking split open. I couldn’t put my ear plugs in quick enough! The PA speakers were tied together, and there were all three guys tearing ass on stage. To be just a matter of feet away from Lemmy Kilmister was like being in front of God, Yahweh, Muhammed and Allah all in one speed-addled, facial wart infested, hot mess playing a Rickenbacker bass.
After destroying about 200% of my hearing (and me loving every moment of it!), Lemmy and Phil broke out acoustic guitars to rehearse what was supposed to be their encore. I’ll explain my wording later on. They played “Whorehouse Blues”, a track off Inferno, the album they were touring for at the time. After they finished that track Derek and I immediately applauded and rooted them on. “Thank you, thank you very much.”, Lemmy immediately replied. I couldn’t help but yell out “Lemmy, you’re a fucking GOD!”. His response?
“No, no, no, God’s a lot taller!”
I will always remember that to the day I finally get my wish and die.
Following that brief, yet life changing verbal exchange, Lemmy walked over to take pictures with the hot, fake-titted bimbo bartenders. Derek suggested we go over to him right now. I suggested that we wait at least a minute or two and let him finish with the bimbos, that way we don’t come off as fangirls. He then walked away. We assumed he’d be right back. The band couldn’t possibly be finished with soundcheck, right?? Well, within moments, the club started letting people in and I found myself feeling like a total dipshit as I apologized profusely to Derek.
And Derek, if you ever somehow come across this article and accompanying podcast, I’m STILL so fucking sorry!
As mentioned earlier, Arctic Flame would be the first band on. Dave seriously had a set of pipes on him. Their style was more Power Metal, which I’ve never really liked; but just shut the fuck up and listen to Dave’s opening wail on this track! The band received a very good response from the crowd overall.
Next up was Zeke, a Punk band from Seattle. I’m extremely selective with my Punk music, but Zeke were really fun. I was very impressed by the band’s ability to stop right in the middle of certain songs so their guitarist could break out pieces of the a cappella guitar solo to Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker”. You know the one. If not, you know nothing about music. Regardless, he was very selective of which songs he’d use to break out those fragments. And you either knew what he was doing – as I sure did! – or you were as fucking clueless as most of my high school graduating class. I would see the band’s bassist, Jeff Matz again. Only next time, it’d be with High on Fire in late 2007 in Webster Hall.
Up next were Southern Metal band Brand New Sin. I remember thinking that Corrosion were going on stage, until I saw Joe Alter hit the stage. I think Chuck, their bassist looked like Mike Dean. That’s probably why. After that, I remember absolutely nothing about the band’s set. That sucks because I actually like them. I would be able to see them again before year’s end at the same venue, where they’d be opening up for Black Label Society.
Next up were Corrosion of Conformity. The place was getting packed at this point. I had a good spot behind this younger kid with a leather jacket and sleeveless denim vest much like mine, although I simply didn’t wear mine on this night because it was cold as balls out that night. This would be my first of two times seeing Corrosion live. But there were two noticeable differences between both times I saw the band. On this night, Mike Dean looked a LOT cleaner cut, whereas when I saw him a decade later, he looked a lot more like Dr. Brown from the Back to the Future Trilogy. The other difference? The band were five years into a decade-long period where Reed Mullin wasn’t in the band.
I don’t remember too much about this set, except for the fact the Mike turned out to be an EXTRAORDINARY bassist, and that the band were on tour for their yet to be released album, In the Arms of God, meaning they’d be playing a few of those tracks on this night. They broke out the track “Paranoid Opioid”, which told me all I needed to know about this yet-to-be-released album. Funny thing is, when Pepper Keenan announced the title of the song, he introduced it by saying “This is off our new album that’s coming out next month, but y’all probably already downloaded it”. Most probably did. I actually bought it upon its release and wasn’t surprised one bit that it was just DRIPPING of Sabbath worship, which only started once Pepper joined the band in the early 90’s.
After Corrosion left the stage, more people started to push their way through to the center of the floor and beyond. It wasn’t too long of a wait, if I’m not mistaken. As the lights went out, the crown lost their fucking minds before any of the guys in Motorhead even stepped on stage. Lemmy walks out…
“Hello, we’re Motorhead. We play Rock ‘N’ Roll…” was the Johnny Cash-like intro he gave, as he cooly flicked a cigarette into the crowd. Mickey counts to four….
The whole fucking place EXPLODED. Megadeth four months ago had NOTHING on this. And that fucking docile kid that stood in front me? He woke up right the fuck on cue, his Mexican Jumping Bean like moves causing the back of his head to headbutt me right in the goddamn nose – the second time I was hit in the fucking nose! And just like at that last concert four months prior, I lost my spot, the crowd forcefully shoving my skinny ass out and back so they can all pay worship to Lemmy.
- Doctor Rock
- Stay Clean
- Shoot You in the Back
- Love Me Like a Reptile
- Over the Top
- No Class
- I Got Mine
- In the Name of Tragedy
- Dancing on Your Grave
- Just ‘Cos You Got the Power
- Going to Brazil
- Killed by Death
- Iron Fist
- Whorehouse Blues
- Ace of Spades
Lemmy’s thunderous Rickenbastard bass, plugged into a wall of old, beat-up Marshall heads, torn through the entire room as everyone acted the craziest I’d ever seen up to that point in my life. My first Crowbar experience comes very close, although unlike the at the Crowbar show, the crowd didn’t partake in one room sized fist fight.
Remember earlier when I said Motorhead were “supposed” to do an encore? It started off just as I’d said, with Lemmy and Phil breaking out acoustic guitars to play “Whorehouse Blues”. After that, they plugged back in and tore through “Ace of Spades”, the one song everyone had been waiting for. And the crowd sure didn’t disappoint, let me tell you. If you’re somehow new to Motorhead, the album of the same name is absolute required listening. Not up for debate. After “‘Spades”, they left the stage and we all assumed they’d be back in a minute for more. Instead, Lemmy walked out without his bass and told the sound guy that the show was over, that Mickey was apparently taking a huge shit. “No really that’s it, it’s over”, Lemmy said as the house lights gradually came back up. Everyone was let down, but I doubt anyone was too pissed off. They just saw fucking Motorhead.
Dave drove us all home afterwards, dropping off Derek first, I think, since he had school the next morning. Dave and I got sandwiches and ate in his car (Ali I swear that’s all we did!) and talked about our musical backgrounds and music, my desire to start a new band after being dismissed, and how this show light a fire under my ass. I’d go on to see Motorhead one more time after this, but that was more than three years away.
I need to thank Dave Lowe for his help in verifying key parts of this story, because I didn’t remember everything and this is THE hardest article I’ve written to date. These days Dave can currently be heard on the Warped Reality Podcast, available on Spotify. You can also click here to see all the shit he has on his Link Tree, including a 2007 live clip of Arctic Flame at the now-defunct B.B. King’s.