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July 29, 2014

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Photos: Lemmy Kilmister’s Motorhead and Dave Mustaine’s Megadeth rock Pearl at the Palms

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Bryan Steffy / WireImage

Motorhead, with frontman and guitarist Lemmy Kilmister, performs at Pearl at the Palms on Thursday, April 17, 2014, in Las Vegas.

Megadeth and Motorhead at Pearl

Megadeth, with frontman and guitarist Dave Mustaine, performs at Pearl at the Palms on Thursday, April 17, 2014, in Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

Megadeth, with guitarist Chris Broderick, performs at Pearl at the Palms on Thursday, April 17, 2014, in Las Vegas.

Iron Maiden and Megadeth at Mandalay Bay

Dave Murray and Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister is a man of few words, but his near-universal acclaim among fans proves that for some, a gravelly voice is just as good as a silver tongue.

Few groups are as beloved by the otherwise ultra-critical hard-rock bunch as Motorhead, so it comes as no surprise that fans of every sort packed Pearl at the Palms on Thursday night for what the band simply calls “rock and roll.”

As one fan put it, “All the old people are here.” But so were the young people, the metalheads, the punks and the rockabilly fans. Also spotted in the audience: Motley Crue frontman frontman Vince Neil and actor Nicolas Cage, both Las Vegas residents.

And even if concerns about Kilmister’s health led the band to cancel tour dates in recent months, those concerns were abated during the band’s hourlong set in between weekend shows at the 2014 Coachella Music Festival in Indio, Calif. A cautious — but never sluggish — Kilmister kept the audience pleased during and between songs with both of his trademarks: his overdriven bass and his grizzled voice.

Guitarist Phil “Wizzo” Campbell flourished on the hastier tracks that helped birth the speed- and thrash-metal subgenres. Bandmate Mikkey Dee, on drums, likewise, led the charge with intense audiovisual moments during a solo of his own. The band maintained this frenetic pace throughout the night, jamming as many crazed and improvised “Big Rock Finishes” as they could after songs like “Doctor Rock” and “Killed by Death,” making sure the crowd could feel every hit and note in their bones.

In fact, Motorhead and Pearl’s sound system lived up to the band’s “Everything Louder Than Everything Else” motto, tearing through room-shaking anthems from “Ace of Spades” and “Bomber,” as well as their most recent release, “Aftershock.” Though the band fell out of sync in starting arguably their most popular track, “Ace of Spades,” the trio’s amped-up take on set-closer “Overkill” more than made up for any stumbles.

The smaller venue helped Megadeth put on a much stronger performance than their arena show at Mandalay Bay Events Center last September, with cleaner sound, better visuals (drawing from years of over-the-top Megadeth cover art and music videos) and a brief guest appearance from suited Megadeth mascot Vic Rattlehead.

Compared to that previous show, the fretwork from frontman Dave Mustaine and guitarist Chris Broderick shined individually in the mix, with added crunch most apparent on thrashier, headbanger anthems like “Wake Up Dead,” “Countdown to Extinction” and “Tornado of Souls.” The crowd-pleasers “Sweating Bullets” and “A Tout Le Monde” brought out the singalong moments, with the former getting a venue full of fans mimicking Mustaine’s vocal rasps.

Mustaine had some fun with the fans, as well, gently teasing one front-row fan for a cryptic, homemade Megadeth T-shirt and yet another for throwing her bra onto the stage (“Not my size,” he remarked).

This being a Megadeth show, the set closed in typical Mustaine fashion with some commentary on how he’d handle Russia-Ukraine tensions as president before leading into “Holy Wars … The Punishment Due.” We might not know how he’d fare as head of state, but as head of his band, he’s doing rather well.

Jorge Labrador is the news assistant for sister publication Las Vegas Magazine.

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