At around 9 o’clock in Leeds at the Irish Centre, the stage, which the crowd have been loitering around drinking for a fair while now due to lack of support bands, is invaded by 4 weird looking fuckers. The one with a guitar appears to have a neck-warmer on below a huge fuzz of hair, and an odd throw with multi-coloured horses under a black silk robe of some sort. Next to him are two drum kits which are now occupied, one of the percussionists sporting what looks like half a gimp suit, his fellow stick wielder, the only one that wouldn’t stand out in a crowd. To the right of the kits, more spherical hair nearly makes the stage look like a mirror image.
If you don’t know who Im talking about yet, I’m surprised you’ve gotten this far. The band of course are the Melvins. Howling feedback and huge noises come from Buzz Osbourne while perfectly synchronized beats that are almost tribal with earth shattering toms demand the attention of everything in what must be a mile vicinity.
After a few unhinged minutes of child-frightening noise, the riffs are flowing and the beats thunderous. Its easy to see why the Melvins have the reputation they do; the live intensity of the band is certainly formidable and I can’t see that they could have anything but improved and honed this very distinct sound over the years.
There’s nothing predictable about the performance, riffs that have the speed of a crippled sloth and the size of a universe suck you into hypnotic daze and the next moment you’l be subjected to a surreal chanting session between Buzz and Jared or a chorus that hooks faster than the finest Peruvian. Old songs such as ‘Lizzy’ are played with new energy and some alterations, and sound a little more like something from the bands newer material. They do lose a little of the raw sludge feel that they had, but gain power, focus and of course quirkyness.
A variety of old and new kept the set interesting, with a good few from ‘Nude with Boots‘ being played (im aware that this isn’t their newest album but it’s the latest I have, fuck off.) alongside the likes of ‘A History of Bad Men’. They played for around 90 minutes which makes many bands, especially for people of my concentration level, become dull. The Melvins did not. The hour and a half would have actually flown by had it not been for the fact that we had come to realise that this ‘Irish Bar’ was, in fact, a giant oven. “No wonder I’ve never seen a band here before, everyone that comes here is cooked alive”, I would’ve thought had my brain not been boiling.
Despite the temperature, there was a great atmosphere and everyone seemed to be having a good time (or most), which makes a change from the majority of metal gigs I attend where a significant amount of people seem to be having a ‘how angry can I appear’ competition, and the rare sight of a female attracts the rapist stare. One particularly warm moment for the crowd was watching a very drunk man of the latter description failing to start fights and falling over every two minutes, nothing better for the soul than someone else making massive tit of themselves.
The Melvins finished on an odd note, which is predictable really. However, far from feeling cheated by the lack of a proper last song, I still feel the need to stress the band’s greatness live. You really wouldn’t even have to be a fan to appreciate them being on their own (though you should probably check you like em). Considering the volume of material they’ve got it probably won’t make much difference if you’ve heard the band anyway.