How many years, how many allusions to This Is Spinal Tap must a band endure before digging its own grave and graciously crawling into it? You would have thought that singer-bassist Lemmy Kilmister's need for speed, tempo and otherwise, would have severely curtailed the group's staying power. Yet here the band is, with four releases in the last two years alone: 1998's Snake Bite Love and Motörhead Today, and this year's Everything Louder Than Everyone Else and Live, Loud & Lewd. It's not that Motörhead is so unlistenable; in terms of purest metal (the classic head-banging kind), this London band's canon fares as well as those of their workaday contemporaries. But in Motörhead's case, that canon bleeds over a quarter century, more than half of the lifespan of rock itself. Heads up, amateur rock historians: This sound was never meant to last that long.
Still, for those who don't mind bridging the delicate gap between maudlin nostalgia and ironic novelty, Motörhead promises a decent live set. Kilmister still wears a shell of leather and spikes, still has odd growths weighing down his muttoned chops, and still preens his face up toward an awkwardly lofty microphone. (Where do you think Liam Gallagher got his famous stage stance?) But Lemmy is Motörhead, although, considering the high turnover of the band's membership, to assume that today's touring version would reflect Motörhead's, uh, glory days of the late '70s and early '80s is asking for disappointment. This is The Lemmy Show, plain and simple, and if you won't give the intrepid frontman credit for his endurance, then give him credit for his rabid determination; Motörhead's music is as energetically abusive and misogynistic as ever. So it's hard not to feel a bit sorry for the guy, even if he would give you the curb treatment for saying so. But like he sings: "Don't forget the joker." Even if you'd like to.