On the back of their excellent new album Basses Loaded, for which they used six different Bass players, Melvins are back out on tour along with Redd Krosses Steve McDonald. Fighting Boredom caught them in Birmingham for a night of glorious noise.
We park the car in a street that on one side has the beginnings of black brick arches that spread forwards into the distance, on the other is a warehouse for fancy dress that looks like where clowns go to die. Scattered next to almost every car is a pile of windscreen glass, sparkling in the evening sunset. What could be a more perfect way to start our night.
The Melvins have been around for ever, one of my friends last saw them twenty-five years ago. They make a glorious, messy noise that as a result of them playing like this for so long isn’t so much what they do as what they are. The first thing that strikes you as they start playing is Buzz’s hair, a mental shock of grey that looks like he stuck his finger in the electric socket just for the hell of it. Then you realise that he’s also wearing makeup and what looks like a robe. But you’ve only got a moment to register this before the music slams you in the gut and takes you off.
Tonight we are also graced with the presence of one of Redd Kross. Steve McDonald looks like he is born to be in this band, sparkling Bass tee-shirt, long hair and dripping attitude. He funks up the Sabbath heavy riffs and gives the sound a mad sprinkling of soul.
The band are on top form, they put the aforementioned soul, punk, classic rawk and grunge into their shack in the woods and they get all splatter movie on them all. Hacking, slashing and generally destroying it all just for the hell of it. Not much changes in Melvinsland just the albums keep coming and the noise keeps building.
When they thrash out its brought low and dirty, nasty and punked down into the gutter. They sound like all the drugs have already been guzzled and all the booze drunk so there’s no point you looking for any; they beat you to it. When they mash out the huge riffs and slow it down it’s even more intense. The show’s just a long slow decline into madness. The stoned drawls and the lunatic howls batter you down more. Then they switch to jazzy punky funk, reminiscent of Nomeansno at their lunatic best, it’s like a demented clown hitting you over and over with a rubber mallet, fitting as Buzz looks like Sideshow Bob’s lost uncle.
There’s a lot of humour here too, not spoof but cheesy fucking around. Over the top and out of control. It gets to the point where it becomes just a bit too rudimental, you think that you could do that, but you didn’t and they did, for decades, scarfing all the stuff you were too scared to along the way. It’s relentless and massive and it’s the Melvins. What did you expect.
Melvins website is at themelvins.net. They are also on Facebook and Twitter
All writing by Adrian Bloxham all photos by Martin Ward.