Motörhead are a band who know what they like. They have a very specific set of tastes, including women, vehicles, booze, and rock music. Green fields, leylines, and healing, however, are not in any way relevant to their interests, and yet here, after exactly 40 years of making the heaviest rock scientifically possible (they refuse to call it metal), they are at the hippiest of all festivals.
Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister strides on, chakras defiantly unaligned and looking, as always, cool as all mirror-shaded, wart-faced, hairy fuck. “We are Motörhead,” he announces simply. “And we play rock’n’roll.” They tear into the instructive, bracing ‘We Are Motörhead’, a perfect lesson in the punked-up, hammering, reckless racket that’s Motorhead’s signature sound, and the reins are resolutely off for a rampant, breathless 11-song set of squealing riffs, jackhammering drums and Lemmy’s terse, out-of-my-way-vermin barks. Drummer Mikkey Dee is, in the nicest possible sense, a total beast, with biceps as big as most people’s bodies and inhuman speed; his lengthy drum solo on the bouncy, rampant ‘Doctor Rock’ (another one of Motörhead’s many excellent song titles) falls into the super-rare category of drum solos that don’t make you feel genocidal, even if wild, wisecracking guitarist Phil Campbell’s ‘I FUCKING HATE DRUMMERS’ T-shirt suggests he doesn’t agree.
“This is the first time we’ve ever played here and we’re looking for a good reception, so remember that,” warns Lemmy. He scorns the crowd’s full-blooded responding cheer. “We’re looking for a lot of noise. I wanna hear pain.” He dedicates the hammeringly thrashy ‘Over The Top’ to all the blessed noise-makers and, brilliantly, to himself.
Yet Motörhead are not here to be selfish. They don’t play anything from their forthcoming album, ‘Bad Magic’ (although Campbell advises the crowd that it is “cool as fuck” and indeed, well worth purchasing), focusing instead on crowd-pleasing classics such as the sleazy grind of ‘The Chase Is Better Than The Catch’ and the brutal ‘Metropolis’, with a change of pace provided by the swaggering-dino might of 2013’s ‘Lost Woman Blues’. And there is of course, one classic in particular that people are here for. When ‘Ace Of Spades’ finally arrives, one song from the end, the anticipation is such that even though, post-drum solo, it sounds a little limper than it should, the crowd carry it aloft, all bellowing the rain away with a raw survivalist howl of “THAT’STHEWAYILIKEITBABYIDON’TWANNALIVEFOREVER!”
Band joker Campbell has by this point swapped his Welsh flag guitar for a Strongbow-branded one, but Lemmy remains magnificently unruffled and inscrutable throughout, reminding us once more as they veer into the insanity-fast ‘Overkill’, “Don’t forget us. We are Motörhead and we play rock and fucking roll.” But as the band leave the stage – Dee throwing his sticks from the stage, probably to land somewhere in Panama – you can tell he’s a little bit impressed, and the hint of a smile graces those warty chops as the crowd roars and the sun shines.