Melvins - Brudenell Social Club Leeds, UK - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Melvins - Brudenell Social Club Leeds, UK

by Andy Brown Rating:10 Release Date:2013-05-13

Tonight will be the third time I’ve seen the mighty Melvins live but the very first time I’ve witnessed their sludge-rock assault in such close quarters as the rightly legendary Brudenell Social Club.

My expectations were exceptionally high from the outset but how couldn’t they be? King Buzzo and Dale Crover have been the ever-beating heart of the group since their debut EP in 1986 and have been one of heavy music’s most consistently engaging bands. The band has a little competition tonight with the England game showing just before they play at 10pm.Would both England and the Melvins deliver the goods? Well, we’d just have to wait and see.

Hendrix’s beautifully mangled ‘Star Spangled Banner’ fades out and it’s finally time for the band to take to the stage. With his shock of mad, grey hair and psychedelic robes Buzzo looks every bit the eccentric rock icon as he walks on. Crover takes his place behind the drum kit while Steve McDonald of Redd Kross and Off! (No, not Steve McDonald from Coronation Street) steps up wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the word BASS. The Melvins have had many a line-up change over the years and at times have played with two drummers yet tonight feels absolutely perfect, the trio more than capable of making a colossal amount of noise.

The vibrations from Crover’s drum kit hit me square in the chest as the amps come to life and the show begins. McDonald’s sludgy bass leads the way and the band lurch into life with a tense, dirge-like groove. Buzzo’s guitar is somewhat restrained throughout; the song expertly building a sense of malevolent tension before the night’s first big release of riffs. And if there’s one thing the Melvin’s are guaranteed to bring- its riffs.

The set spans much of the bands career with the likes of 1994’s ‘Queen’ getting an early airing, as Buzzo delivers the songs brilliantly catchy yet heavy-as-sin chorus, “oh little wish it away/ I got time to wish away”. ‘Mr Rip Off’ from 2012’s Melvins-Lite record shows a band well-versed in the art of songwriting and intricately impressive musicianship while ‘The Bloated Pope’ is a strange and  sinister highlight pulled from their collaborative LP with Lustmord. With 24 studio albums to their name, discounting collaborations and live albums, the band certainly has enough material to pick from.

Everything about the band’s sound is huge; a sonic bulldozer relentlessly ploughing through the mass of appreciative fans. While some songs are exercises in distortion and volume others bring the Melvins particularly heavy take on shake, rattle and roll. I start the night standing on the steps in the middle of the venue but quickly work my way to the front. The pull of the Melvins being too great to resist coupled with the fact that this may be my only chance to see them this close.

Every riff shakes my bones for all their worth and it’s utterly thrilling. The Melvins were always a hard band to categorise and tonight’s show reminds me why as they flit between sludge and adrenaline fuelled, rock ‘n’ roll and find the ideal balance between sonic dominance and their ever mischievous sense of humour.

After the last brutally heavy riff has screamed its last the band indulges in an a-capella rendition of ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’. Rousing, ridiculous and well into their third decade; the Melvins are fucking fantastic. The show was a triumph and apparently England did alright too (although, admittedly, I really couldn’t care less). England then went on to get knocked out of the tournament by Iceland while the Melvins continued to be one of the world’s finest bands.

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