It's not until you encounter Melvins live that you see just how influential these madcap sludgesters have been on the rock and metal scenes over the last 25 years.
From the loud/quiet dynamics picked up by Nirvana, the frantic lunacy adopted by System Of A Down, or the trance-like riffs and time changes seen in early Tool, Melvins have, quite frankly, earned the right to play a 'classics' night. And hell, they play them well.
Currently celebrating their 30th anniversary, the band serves up two very special shows, each one seeing two classic Melvins albums performed in full. Tonight it's 1992's 'Lysol' followed by fan-favourite 'Houdini', their major-label debut from 1993.
Kicking things off unexpectedly with 'Charmicarmicat' from the EP 'Eggnog', it's clear that the band is in good form and out to slam out their tunes with minimum pretension and maximum effort. No support. No background. Barely a few lights dotted about. In fact, the most elaborate elements are the homemade robot armour bassist Jared Warren has fashioned and the splendid robe that King Buzzo is rocking.
The crowd soon gets locked into the groove, never quite amping up to mosh pit level. The audience enters that respectful, pseudo-religious vibe where swaying, nodding and just enjoying the music is gratitude enough.
Increasingly looking like a punk-fed Albert Einstein, Buzzo has lost none of his power with age. The mushroom-shaped 'fro on top may now be fully white, but his prowess with a guitar still puts most to shame. Combine this with the double-drum attack of Dale Crover and Coady Willis and you've got a group that still has the credibility to play in a piss-soaked garage, making it hard to imagine they're actually middle-aged men.
Two Alice Cooper covers come back-to-back, the regal drumming of 'Second Coming' followed by 'The Ballad Of Dwight Fry' - a highlight of the night. 'With Teeth' and 'Sacrifice' end the first half on a high before a 15-minute interval is taken.
Back on, and 'Sky Pup' erupts accompanied by roars from the crowd. The band locks straight back in and the fans - now with fresh beverages - falls back into a happy daze.
'Hooch' and 'Night Goat' are surefire winners, Buzzo as ever proving just as interesting a frontman/singer as he does a guitarist, his head never still for a second. 'Lizzy' creates the closest thing to a sing-along moment of the night, while 'Going Blind' stands as one of rocks best covers, Kiss's tune transformed into something brilliantly different.
'Hag Me', 'Teet' and 'Spread Eagle Beagle' finish night one in commendable fashion, everyone seemingly leaving happy.
Some fans argue that they were "heavier" with only one drummer, but having two admittedly adds something. From the near bruising we feel on our ribcage, we're going to agree with the latter. Twenty-two songs down, and iconic status still in place: job done.
Words: Sam Walker-Smart
Photos: Marco Micceri
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