By: Steve Fallows
Photos: Steve Fallows
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The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds | June 20, 2016
There are some bands who signify a certain time or era in music, some who represent a genre and precious few who transcend everything and everyone around them to become an iconic act, regardless of scene. The Melvins are one of the best example of those bands and they recently brought their latest variation of the band over to Europe for some festivals and club shows in support of new album Basses Loaded.
The band arrived in England fresh from Hellfest, and with no support there was an opportunity for the band to play a full 80 minute set. The only problem being that it had been decided to show the England versus Slovakia game before they went onstage, so the fans that had turned up early to this small, but perfect setting had to endure one of the worst games of football I have ever seen in my life before our patience was eventually rewarded. Within seconds of the final whistle being blown, everyone had moved to the front of the stage and the intro tape had started to a quickly packed venue.
The stage looked quite sparse with only the one drum kit there, but once Buzz, Dale and Redd Kross’ Steve McDonald (guest on the new album and the band’s bass player for this tour) appeared all memories of the football were wiped and the air of disappointment and general indifference had been eclipsed by a huge wall of noise that welcomed in the distorted, dischordant mess that is ‘Eye Flys’. I have always loved the way that the Melvins approach their live shows. Instead of playing a few songs, changing guitars and talking with the crowd, the band start playing and then finish around an hour later, each song flowing into the next one almost seamlessly, normally through the unparalleled drumming of Dale Crover. He barely stopped for the entire show, and the fact that they can achieve this feat with the many different line ups and variations of the band there has been over the past decade or so speaks volumes about the ability of this band.
Despite having a new album to promote, they opted to only play the one song from Basses Loaded and instead played material from ten different albums as well as a track from their Lustmord collaboration. Straight after ‘Eye Flys’ there was a storming cover of the KISS classic ‘Deuce’and there seems to be a very different energy about the band. Maybe it’s the new line up, maybe it’s just that they hit top form and were genuinely enjoying themselves, it’s difficult to tell with them. McDonald does a fine job leading the band through Redd Kross’ ‘Frosted Flake’ in amongst a range of covers from the likes of Alice Cooper (‘Halo of Flies’) and Green River (‘Leech’).
There were a couple of big tunes hidden away in there, with ‘Queen’ and ‘Night Goat’ (from Stoner Witch and Houdini respectively) alongside a lot of more recent tracks from their extensive catalogue, and the inclusion of ‘Euthanasia’ that had previously featured on the old Amphetamine Reptile Records compilations ahead of a re-release as a single later in the year. Before you know it, it’s all over, and as the band laid down their instruments and walked to the front of the stage for their version of ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game’, the 450 people present finally had a chance to show their appreciation for an amazing performance. The band stayed onstage and even took a couple of bows, instead of leaving midway through the last song, which they normally do, often leaving Dale alone on stage to finish the show. An excellent show, one of the best I have seen from them, and that’s saying something.
‘Eye Flys’ – ‘Deuce’ – ‘Queen’ – ‘The Kicking Machine’ – ‘National Hamster’ – ‘With Yo’ Heart, Not Yo’ Hands’ – ‘Leech’ – ‘Frosted Flake’ – ‘Euthanasia’ – ‘Mr. Rip Off’ – ‘Halo of Flies’ – ‘Sesame Street Meat’ – ‘The Water Glass’ – ‘Onions Make The Milk Taste Bad’ – ‘The Bloated Pope’ – ‘A Growing Disgust’ – ‘The Decay of Lying’ – ‘Night Goat’ – ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game’.