– MOHO LIVE, MANCHESTER –
After discovering the latest release of The Melvins EP ‘The Bulls and the Bees’ (a free download by the way) I was on the hunt to find the tour that follows, and to my delight they were coming to Manchester’s Moho Live, four long years since their last visit to the city. Being fortunate enough to see them twice before on larger stages at Primavera sound in Barcelona and also at an infamous ATP festival, I was looking forward to a show in a smaller venue to experience the full force and raw power of music that The Melvins create.
This is my first time to Moho Live for a gig and as I head down the stairs to the basement venue to my shock the place is virtually empty, only to discover I am incredibly early and there are no support acts, just The Melvins, which is a bit of a disappointment but this gives me a good chance to look at the stage set up of the band. In a symmetrical fashion two drum kits take centre stage pushed right to the front, and rightly so! Drummers are just as important as any other member, whilst the flanks of the stage are taken up by the guitar set up on the left and bass up on the right.
As a predominantly male crowd trickles into the venue I notice many band t-shirts emblazoned with band logo’s with varying different musical tastes and styles, also there is a broad age range throughout the crowd which I is a great ode to The Melvins who have been huge influences throughout their almost 30 year career most notably through the grunge era and are still attracting a cult following, but also appeal to the a younger generation as their music today is still creative and innovative as ever.
The Melvins take to the stage and walk on to what sounds uncannily like some Morricone spaghetti-western music followed by the rapturous applause from the crowd. It’s straight down to business, no banter with the crowd just noise and very loud noise. The two drummers get us underway pounding beats in incredible unison and to great effect; it’s a tremendously powerful and amazing spectacle in itself, until we hear both guitarist and wow! It’s a wall of noise that takes you a back so much so that after one song I have to retreat away from the stage because this is an onslaught my ears cannot take.
Now at a comfortable distance from the stage the sound is incredible Buzz Osbourne’s (AKA King Buzzo) signature guitar sound is massive, doomy and as sludgy as ever. Along with Jared Warren’s distorted heavy bass it combines for a thunderous guitar duo. To say that The Melvins are punk, metal, grunge or alternative does them a disservice. They’re many things in many songs, but the bottom line is that they’re heavy and you either dig it or you don’t.
Throughout the set each song seamlessly flows into the next through innovative drum interludes and what seems friendly faced drum battles, the highlight of the night for me has got to be ‘The Water Glass’, the opening track to the album ‘The Bride Screamed Murder’ Its starts off with a heavy guitar riff that exhales only to fall to the floor as a military drum cadence begins. It’s alright to smile at this one, it’s a fun one and is greatly appreciated by the crowd.
The ending is a classic Melvins song ‘The Bit’, which causes a few punters to rush to the front to witness a song that is about as heavy as you can get. King Buzzo leaves the stage abruptly to allow the two drummers to close out the set along with the bassist who’s adding some mean feedback alongside. The two drummers end and stand on their drum kits to acknowledge a great appreciation from the crowd. Tonight The Melvins’ show that after nearly 30 years experience really does pay off. They’re a tightly knit unit; powerful, impressive and room shakingly heavy, it’s a pleasure to behold. Even if you know little about The Melvins, if you ever get the chance to see them, GO! It’s an experience itself.