Melvins + Big Business
Friday 9th October 2015
I had been waiting for this for a long time. As a long time fan of the Melvins, it seems inexplicable that I’ve never seen them live before. But then I rarely travel to Manchester for gigs. 2015 has been the year of live music for Platinum Al; as such the planets aligned, the tickets were bought, the wheels were rolling towards the big city and it was on. Finally, I would witness the wonder of the Melvins.
And not just the Melvins – the support slot went to Big Business, a two piece of bass and drums in a similar mould to the mighty headliners. Of course, anyone who knows their Black Flag from their Black Sabbath will tell you that Jared and Coady of this band also perform with Buzz and Dale to create the steaming sonic soup with lumpy riff croutons that is the Melvins.
The Big Business set was extremely impressive in it’s own right. As I said, the band is just bass and drums, yet the almighty noise they make is astounding for a two piece. They play a solid set that could’ve been a main course of the evening’s entertainment. Big grooves, pounding drums and awesome sound scapes create a fine appetiser.
Gorilla in Manchester is some sort of restaurant/bar thing, with a stage at the back for live shows. It’s seems more in scale with stand up comedy gigs, but despite the modest size it’s a great place to see the band – close up, good views and sound. The beer is a bit expensive, but I got a Melvins (official!) t-shirt for a tenner! Yeah!!!
So anyway, the Melvins arrive on stage as a four piece – Buzz, Dale, Jared and Coady – and we’re off. It’s a gig unlike any I’ve experienced ever before. There’s no breaks; no chat with the audience; no introducing the songs – the band just plough through their catalogue of fantastic songs and drag the audience along with them. The audience follow willingly, of course – and the band don’t ignore us – it’s a unique unspoken agreement that we’re all along for a hell of a musical journey.
The music is heavy, sludgy, intense – exactly what I expected and wanted. There are several songs from newer albums (“The Water Glass”, “Evil New War God” – both superb). Older classics like “Sweet Willy Rollbar” and “It’s Shoved” are given a welcome play too. The absolute high light for me though is “Civilised Worm” – what a riff!
The power of the riff is what the Melvins are all about. Buzz’s guitar is astoundingly heavy, yet also shines with artistic flourishes and strange sounds to keep the listener guessing. The bass is relentless yet groovy, hammering home the riffs. Add dual drummers and ears were ringing for days.
It was a truly intense live experience and one I’m really glad I saw. Unlike anything else and worthy of the hype, the Melvins are a unique band and I love them.
Did I mention I got a t-shirt for a tenner??!!