Head Cat (featuring Lemmy)

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Double Door, < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Chicago

May 14, 2007


Review by Tim Shockley

Photos by Ann Leitel


It would be perfectly understandable for some longtime Motörheadbangers and metal heads in general to be more than a little hesitant about Mötorhead’s legendary Lemmy’s 50’s covers side project, Head Cat. After all, “Ace Of Spades,” it isn’t! Well, those who chose to stay home on this beautiful Monday night in Chicago truly missed out on a possibly one-time, and, perhaps even more importantly, LOUD, special event!







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I’d never been to < ?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Chicago’s famed Double Door, but, luckily it was a mere few miles away. The show was originally slated for the Abbey Pub, with Head Cat headlining. But for some strange, possibly contractual reason, the show was moved with Head Cat now opening for legendary “King of Surf Guitar” Dick Dale. 


Having no game plan whatsoever, I arrived at Double Door four hours before show time. I wanted to hook up with Lemmy, as I do every time he’s in town. With nary a soul in sight, I opted for a nearby microbrewery called “Piece,” which, apparently, is owned by Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen. After sampling literally one of everything, I staggered back to Double Door to meet friends who had driven from Wisconsin (Crow Gizzard) and Minnesota (Lutefisk!) just for this show.


A small, but mixed crowd had gathered, ranging from older Dick Dale fans from Indiana to Mötorhead fans who had flown in from Connecticut! Trust me, this was a special occasion. As the door swung open, I ran to the front of the stage to stake my claim!


Although I’d never been to Double Door, I’d heard  there were pool tables and video games downstairs. Gee, I wonder where Lemmy is?! I wandered downstairs and sure enough, there sat the man in black, sitting intently in front of a video poker machine! He was talking to a woman (imagine that!), so I hated to interrupt him. But, of course, I did! He said he was glad to see me and sorry that my wife, another longtime friend of his, didn’t come to the show. Lemmy looked in great health. Hell, better than most half his age! And considering his alcoholic intake, he truly is a living miracle! He told me he’d see me after the show, but I wasn’t sure how long I’d stick around for Dick Dale.



After a brief, uneventful set by local band The Trashingtons, the Double Door suddenly was jam-packed to the rafters, with most in attendance proudly wearing Mötorhead t-shirts! I don’t think Dick Dale, or his fans, knew what they were in for!



The lights went down and Lemmy, drummer Slim Jim Phantom (The Stray Cats), guitarist Danny B. Harvey (13 Cats/Lonesome Spurs), and upright bassist Djordje Stijepovic strutted onstage and opened with “Good Rockin’ Tonight.” Truer words were never spoken!


Immediately noticeable was how loud they were! Perhaps it was due to being four feet from their Marshall amps! More likely, it was due to Lemmy switching from acoustic guitar (which he had used at earlier shows) to his thunderous Rickenbacker bass! Whatever the cause, it was much appreciated! Also quite apparent was how much fun they were having, playing songs they grew up listening to in the 50’s and 60’s. While that may not be your cup of stout, you have to admit 90% of what’s on the radio these days is utter drivel!


At one point, the guy next to me yelled “Hey, Lemmy! How ‘bout a pick?” Lemmy replied “Fuck, no. They’re too expensive!” I suppose the fan got the last laugh- he snagged a few off Lemmy’s mic stand after the show! A rogue move, to be sure. But he gave me one, so I’ll let him slide!



Lemmy sang all but one song and alternated between bass and harmonica, the latter of which he’s gotten quite proficient. But it was kind of strange seeing him wear 50’s style “Creeper” shoes instead of his infamous cowboy boots!    


Slim Jim Phantom took over the vocals for the lone Stray Cats song “Rock This Town,” quite possibly the most well known song of the night!


They also premiered a great new song called “Rock N’ Roll Will Save You,” which I believe is from Lemmy’s upcoming solo album. Can’t wait for that! 


Of course, no show would be complete without yours truly committing a drunken faux pas. I’ll be the first to admit I’m no expert about songs from the 50’s. Hell, I was born in ‘59! But I am vaguely familiar with the song “Big River.” So I, along with several other fans, yelled it all night. Even immediately after they played it! Unfortunately, this did not go unnoticed by the band! “Yes, we just played it!” joked Lemmy. Phantom added “You know it’s a good song when they want to hear it again!” I pray Lemmy didn’t know it was me who said it! (note to self- no more microbreweries before shows! Stupid beer…)



Other songs from the set included “Not Fade Away,” “Peggy Sue Got Married,” “Fool’s Paradise,” “Bad Boy,” “Shakin’ All Over,” “Five Long Years,” and a thoroughly smokin’ version of “Crossroads!”


Head Cat played an all too brief seventy-five minutes. And while the possibility of Lemmy joining Dick Dale onstage seemed quite intriguing, or even better, hanging out with Lemmy after the show, I bailed after Dale’s third song.


Of course, I headed right back to Piece for a nightcap. Hey, I had to- I was parked right in front of it!  Oh yeah, one more thing- “Big River!”


For more info: www.myspace.com/headcat      www.slimjimphantom.com