- by Andy Brown Rating: Release Date: Label:
Washington’s premier sludge-metal pioneers The Melvins have been around almost as long as I’ve been alive. Forming in the early-eighties and barely coming up for air since; the band has successfully ploughed their own uniquely sludgy furrow for an impressive 34 years.
Buzz ‘King Buzzo’ Osborne and Dale Crover have remained consistent throughout the bands many phases while Redd Kross bassist Steven Shane McDonald joined last year. With over three-decades under their belt it’s good to see that the band show absolutely no signs of slowing down. 2017 has seen them unleash new double-album A Walk with Love & Death and form Crystal Fairy with members of Le Butcherette’s and The Mars Volta. All this and Crover has still found time to release a solo album.
“For the first time in 20 years, Leeds…it’s Redd Kross!” We’re mere minutes into the Californian bands opening set and it already feels like a party in full-swing. The band has been around even longer than the Melvins and makes up the other half of this substantial joint-headline tour. McDonald and Crover have, rather heroically, committed themselves to two sets a night as both musicians play in the Melvins and Redd Kross. Still loving what they do after all these years, you simply can’t keep them away from the stage.
Loud, melodic and unashamedly fun, Redd Kross play the Brudenell like they’re Queen at Wembley Stadium. I start the night fairly unfamiliar with the bands back-catalogue but end as a rabid and wide-eyed convert to the cause. Both Steve and his brother Jeff look giddy with excitement, embracing every ridiculous moment. The party mood continues apace with a blissfully apocalyptic cover of The Stooges ‘Ann’ and a high-octane rendition of The Beatles ‘It Won’t Be Long’. This is the place where glam-rock, grunge, punk and good old rock ‘n’ roll collide.
With the sweat barely dried on their foreheads Crover and McDonald join Buzzo as the Melvins make their way on stage. Amps hum and rib-cages rumble as the opening notes to ‘Sacrifice’, the bands Flipper cover, lumber into life. Buzzo’s trademark growl, commanding and ever so slightly theatrical, booms over the music. Everything feels huge, larger than life. As usual, the Melvins will be taking no prisoners.
The guitars may be loud yet its Crover’s colossal beats that hit you the hardest, giving the three piece that distinctly weighty sound. It will come as no surprise to hear that the trio are incredibly tight, instinctively knowing when to go for it and when to hold back. The Melvins mastery of dynamics has always put them in a league of their own. Even when indulging us with a cover of The Beatles ‘I Want to Hold your Hand’ they can’t help but sound anything like themselves. Also, what other ‘metal’ band could you imagine throwing in a Beatles cover?
Songs from the new album fit rather seamlessly into the set with the tense, spacious psychedelia of ‘Sober-dellic’ and the ridiculously heavy yet surprisingly catchy ‘Euthanasia’ sticking in my brain long after the gig has finished. Older tracks like ‘Queen’ and the cool rock ‘n’ roll thrills of ‘The Kicking Machine’ remind me just how many fantastic songs this band has.
McDonald clearly loves playing in the Melvins as much as he loves playing in Redd Kross; stalking the stage like a particularly excitable Gene Simmons. He certainly adds that extra theatrical edge, gleefully shouting “King Buzzo!” as Buzz piles into another frenzied solo.
It’s a great set but the band still manages to save the best for last. Smoke fills the stage and the volume seems to increase significantly as the long, monolithic drone of ‘Hung Bunny’ emanates from the speakers. This gradually bleeds into the epic, doom-laden riffs of Lysolclassic ‘Roman Dog Bird’; ten solid minutes of Ozzy worshipping, speaker shaking glory. Time, clearly, has not lessened the Melvins considerable power. Not bad for a Tuesday night.