Friday, December 02, 2005


Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling writes:

Yes, I went to Motörhead last night and it was great, thanks for asking, although I probably can't hear you because I am deaf.

Of the warm-up acts I can tell you little since I missed them, arriving, as I did, straight after work at 21:00. They were apparently good, although they played very short sets.

Motörhead say they are the loudest band in the world, they did have a lot of amps and they made a lot of noise, and it was mostly good. That said, I can be fairly sure the sound engineers would have received an absolute roasting.

There were feedback issues every time Lemmy tried to engage in inter-song banter with the crowd which really pissed him off. And one instance of feedback in a song - their trademark song "Ace of Spades" no less - which would probably be the worst thing that could have happened.

This isn't the first time that I've noticed this at the St James. To be fair I've only been there twice, the time before was Nick Cave back in May, but during that show they suffered sound issues as well though not of feedback, just everything blending together and sounding duller (most probably because there were almost a dozen different people playing/singing at once, a thankless task to try and mix properly).

I am unsure as to whether the St James is a venue for loud bands. There just isn't enough space for the sound to dissipate, it just bounces straight back. It's an excellent venue, built for sound amplification, and with two mezzanines you can never be disappointingly far from the stage. But that's the problem, the sound goes out at 100db for only 50 metres before it hits a wall to be reflected back again. Whereas somewhere larger like the Supertop or somewhere outdoors lets the sound go away, never to re-enter the microphones. Speaking of microphones the stage layout didn't help either with microphones in front of two huge stacks of guitar amps, the bleeding of drum and guitar into vocals was unfortunate. I don't know how Motörhead would go doing a TOOL with the vocalist behind or alongside the drums and amps, but no matter.

A rating then? 7/10. The sound has to take a few points off, but they are a kick-arse band and bloody nice chaps, hanging off the stage to shake hands and pass out the usual goodies to fans at the end.


Anonymous said...

but there are always mikes in front of the g stacks... otherwise you would just be hearing the amps... and then there be no need for fine tuning by engineers for the front of house stacks or for the foldbacks.
only been to a couple of gigs @ the st james.. but as they were Fantomas and Sonic Youth it's remarkably hard to have negative comments about feedback.

Psycho Milt said...

Yes, with Sonic Youth you'd assume the feedback was part of the show.

I wouldn't like to be a sound engineer that pissed Lemmy off!

Anonymous said...

yeah complaining about feedback at Sonic Youth show would be like a punk complaining bout Greg Ginn's Guitar playing.

Eric Olthwaite said...

"and then there be no need for fine tuning by engineers for the front of house stacks or for the foldbacks."

That's another thing, the techies were doing *a lot* of on-stage maintenance. I would guess that at least once per song a techie was coming out to look at something to do with the sound sytem, which to me seems a lot.

"I wouldn't like to be a sound engineer that pissed Lemmy off!"

He would have had the worst time of his life after that show. Every time there was feedback Lemmy would glare at the side of the stage, and a few songs in he went "oh for fucks sake" and walked off for ten seconds to give someone a bollocking. During the show he also said "This PA's from Disneyland" and "If you don't stop this fucking whistle I'll come back there and knock your block off you cunt" or words to that effect.

Now maybe that was the best they could do given the parameters that they had, and if so then I guess that's life. But it did detract a little from the show.

anth said...

A couple of random memories relating to Motorhead...

I returned CD once because it was skipping. The salesmonkey put it on a player in the shop and listened to it on headphones, then declared that the CD was fine and and there must be something wrong with my stereo. I asked to have a listen, then pointed out that the 3rd line of Motorhead (the song they took the band's name from) should be "Don't know how long I've been awake", not "Don't know how how long way". "Oh," he said, "I thought that was how Motorhead were meant to sound".

I went to one of their concerts last year, in Hammersmith. It was very good, though I didn't think much of the opening acts. No problems with the sound, and it was pretty loud even through my ear plugs. Anyway, several of us met up before the show in a pub just around the corner, and it looked like all the other punters were waiting for the concert too. Did the pub try to play the music they thought we wanted to hear? Not unless they somehow mistook us for Abba fans.

Paul said...

You left work at 4.30. How did it take you four and a half hours to walk down to Queen Street?

I thought the sound at Sonic Youth was very clean. If you enjoy extraneous noise, you would have loved Wild Billy Childish at the Kings Arms last night. His amp whined and hummed all nightl, but it made the gig all the more wonderful.