Review: Mudhoney Live

Mudhoney, Meat Puppets, Metz – O2 ABC – 05/06

 

Tonight’s openers, Metz, could well be the hardest working band in showbiz; though they hail from Toronto this is their fourth Glasgow show in under a year, coming hot on the heels of two solo performances and a support slot for fellow Canadians, Fucked Up. On the strength of this evening they might also be the best punk band in the world, delivering their two minute bursts of fury with an intensity you wouldn’t expect from singer Alex Edkins’ gawky glasses. Merging post-hardcore sludge with thundering hard-rock drums, they’re a visceral live project; stretching out the fuzz bass throwdown of ‘Wet Blanket’ into a twisted thrash that sounds like Fugazi duelling with My Bloody Valentine for who can go one louder.

Sandwiched between the young upstarts and tonight’s headliners The Meat Puppets run the risk of being the unpleasant cow-punk pâté that spoils the hard-rock stew but with Curt Kirkwood on imperious form they pull it off. It must be difficult being part of a band best known for their three song contribution to Nirvana’s legendary MTV Unplugged in New York, but bravely the Arizona rockers choose to confront their legacy head on delivering ‘Plateau,’ ‘Oh, Me’ and ‘Lake of Fire’ amongst a series of tracks from their extensive back catalogue. Whereas Cobain imbued the tracks with existential angst, in the hands of their original creators they take on a heavier, more psychedelic edge. Equally intoxicating is their version of The Beach Boys ‘Sloop John B’ rendered as a cracked warning against bad acid trips.

Finally, Mudhoney take to the stage. Though they missed out on the level of superstardom attained by the likes of Nirvana or Pearl Jam, in 2013 the Seattle foursome are arguably bigger than ever; widely accepted as the originators of the early nineties grunge boom and receiving rave reviews for their recent album Vanishing Point. Wielding his glittery silver Gibson Les Paul, frontman Mark Arm looks remarkably trim for someone who spent several years with a heroin addiction to rival his more famous counterparts. Tearing through ‘You Got It’ from their self-titled 1989 debut or hollering out stoner-metal anthem ‘Sweet Young Thing’, the quartet are still a formidable force with the singer channelling the loose-limbed stage moves of Iggy Pop. Unleashing their most famous single ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’ causes a packed mosh pit to go even more mental. ‘Chardonnay’ and ‘What to do with the Neutral’ show they haven’t lost their sense of humour but it’s the righteous scorn of ‘Douchebags on Parade’ which draws the most enthusiastic response of all the new songs.

Dispatching the ferocious ‘Mudride’ and ‘In ‘n’ Out of Grace’ as part of a lengthy encore the audience show signs of flagging but twenty-five years on from their breakthrough Mudhoney show no sign of slowing down.

 

[Max Sefton]

 

 

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