Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Rock and Roll Treason

Last night's show left me with a few mixed feelings. I loved The Head Cat. Seeing Lemmy, Motorheadless or not, was one for the history books. While the band was not particularly tight, the combo of Lemmy's bass and the upright bass had the floor vibrating. Slim Jim Phantom was playing the standard whittled down rockabilly drum kit. But it was Lemmy I couldn't take my eyes off of. His unusual style of playing chords on his bass lends this dense layer in the lower mid-range of the music. It was fascinating to watch and listen to how it transformed a song when he jumped in. Considering the band also had an upright bass player, the sound was definitely bottom heavy.

Then there's Lemmy's unmistakable voice. Gravelly, with vocal chords that I guarantee are full of nodules, give a roadhouse feel to every song he sings. And they did some classics last night. Spanning more than rockabilly, some of my favorites of the evening were "Not Fade Away" by Buddy Holly, "Bad Boy" by Larry Williams, and "Crossroads" by Cream (a natural choice for a bass player like Lemmy, especially given his style of playing). To my astonishment this morning, when I did some fact checking, I discovered that Lemmy is 61 years old. I don't know why, but I thought he was about ten years younger. He looks great, well, for being Lemmy, he looks great. He is one of the characters in rock that is larger than life and certainly a legend to many.

Up next was surf rock legend, self-proclaimed "King of the Surf Guitar", Dick Dale. I don't know what I expected. I absolutely loved the first four or five tunes. They sounded like every bad biker bar I've ever been in. I appreciated that these songs that were inspired by sunshine and waves really actually take on a whole new meaning in a dark smoke-filled club. Dick Dale is clearly a virtuoso. Then it happened, about half an hour into his set, I got bored. Sometimes virtuosity turns into noodling and egos stroked too often turn a performer into an inflated showboater. That was the feeling I started to get. I appreciated that Dick was out there doing what he loved, but felt like he loved himself a little too much. While Lemmy was more down to earth in his banter, Dick was downright chatty at times, but pretty egocentric. That kind of stuff wears on me really quick. Add to that the fact that it was starting to feel like a bad frat party because most of the crowd was overserved by then, and you got my reaction. I left early. I almost never do this. I consider it to be similar to getting up and walking out of a movie before it's over. I'd had it. The set went on too long and I was bored to tears. I know some of you will think this treason of the highest order, but I couldn't help it. For me, virtuoso or not, Dick Dale couldn't hold my interest. I'm glad I saw him and I certainly respect his originality and skills, but it was not my favorite show. Now The Head Cat...I'd go back to see them again and I hope next time they'll be the headliners.


Splotchy said...

Sorry Dick Dale wasn't fantastic. I didn't realize he was left-handed (being a left-handed geetarist myself, this always pops out at me in pictures).

I would have loved to hear "Not Fade Away" by Lemmy and Co.

Anonymous said...

I did not realize Head cat was headed by Lemmy. I had seen Motorhead a couple of times in my teenage years. My memory is so blurred I cannot remember the line up and I think I could be confusing 2 shows? It was at the Palladium in NYC, and I believe it was a triple bill, with Def Leopard and Iron Maiden or was that the show with Judas Priest, f-k my memory loss is making me insane! If someone out there remembers the line-up back then, early eighties, I think..., please correct me. I do remember that members of the Plasmatics where in the audience just a few rows from me and I nearly fell over as I loved Wendy O'Williams, she looked amazing!---never saw them live though...
I did then see Motorhead at L'Amore West in Brooklyn years later...man he is that old!


lulu said...

As I said last night, if Satan owned a roadhouse, The Head Cat would be the house band.

They were amazingly fun and cool, you know I love me some upright base, and I loved that the upright player was hanging out at Flash Taco getting dinner before the show.

As for Dick Dale, I was too busy talking to schmeckman to pay much attention.

lulu said...

Schmeckman had a friend there last night, up in the front, and this was his comment on Dick Dale, according to schmeck. "he said dick dale "totally" got laid. he said that afterwards, he was signing autographs (he's a really nice guy, my friend said, very chatty and grateful), and he kept making out with girls and getting their reassurances that they'd stick around. hilarious. if you cut off his pony tail and take away his headband, he looks like someone in the bush administration. not sexy."

Dale said...

Sounds like a great time except for Dick turning into a bit of a dud. I love the way you wrote about Lemmy and the gang. I'm only marginally familiar with Lemmy and Motorhead but your post made me understand what it is that draws you in.

Grant Miller said...

I'd like to see Dick Dale in concert. But sometimes I reread my blog and wonder if I've become an "inflated showboater."


Bubs said...

There's a lot to be said for being an inflated showboater. Really.

Your comments about Dick Dale are similar to stuff I've read about Link Wray's performances before he died a couple years ago.

Sorry I missed the show, I would've loved to see the Head Cats.

Tenacious S said...

Bubs, we missed you and Mizbubs. Maybe I would've enjoyed Dick Dale more if you were there.