Like so many bands before them The Melvins are back at the Brudenell in Leeds to play for us again, only a year after last visiting this Northern city. Tonight they have brought with them Red Kross in what will be their first UK tour in around 18 years. Formed in 1978 in California how many bands can say their first gig was opening for Black Flag? These can.
Although a few words seem to be missing this is very early on in the tour so the memories may come back. The band are clearly very talented, with brothers Jeff Macdonald and Steven Shane Macdonald taking the front as singer and bassist. And man what a bassist! As a wannabe bass player I now have another idol... the latters ownership of that bass is incredible! No wonder Jack Black got him on bass duties for Tenacious D's debut album and he is in hardcore punk band Off!. The band also have the one and only Dale Crover on drums, explaining the link and why the Melvins have them as support. They are no stranger to taking a revolving support/main band line up... look at their Big Business tours where Crover has stepped in with Coady Willis to play duel drumming roles, then Jared Warren has stepped into Melvins on bass. This time Steven Macdonald is on bass as The Melvins current bottom dweller. What an addition!
The band are a complete mix of heavy riffs with psychedelic wanderings, prog fighting rock and stage presence. The songs 'Neurotica' from the album of the same name and 'Stay Away From Downtown' from the more recent 'Researching the Blues' stand out, but as Macdonald says Buzz Osborne has instructed them to play their 1984 offering 'Teen Babes from Monsanto' cover album, whether we like it or not. This features Kisses' 'Deuce', 'Citadel' by the Rolling Stones, 'Heaven Only Knows' by the Shangri-Las, 'Ann' by The Stooges', 'Saviour Machine' by David Bowie and a cover of Elizabeth Montgomery's cover of 'Blow You A Kiss In The Wind'. The last song is 'Linda Blair 1984', pretty self explanatory seeing as their name is a reconstruction of Red Cross from a certain scene in The Exorcist. The place is packed for these and I am certainly grateful I made it down in time for them.
The Melvins are on a little later than advertised but when there's a costume change needed for 2/3 of the band then it's more than allowed. Crover is back on drums, more vocal and with headphone mic this time, whereas he took more of a back seat (and not just towards the back of the stage) before. Steve Macdonald is back on stage this time in a fur gilet, and Buzz Osborne wins in a hippies style long top and skirt thing. Definitely the best dressed band of the night. The 'trademark' hair is still here, and you know by choice rather than some stories you hear of bands not allowed to change their look. Osborne has a unique style and one nobody gives two fucks about also.
The gig starts slow with 'Sacrifice' sludging along. 'Kicking Machine' is a corker of a tune and shows just how tight this band can get with Crover's trippy beats and heavy riffage from Osborne layered with vocals you can't really hear but know must be good. 'The Bit' really is the crowd favourite, my friend nearly loses his head as do others, headbanging away! Bit difficult with space as the show is a sell out...
Not much talking, the music does the talking. Macdonald introduces Crover as the cool cat, to which Crover replies "you can't learn jazz, jazz comes from here" and points to his insides, but a bit low down, then goes into a jazz beat with the bass before the metal reaches out and returns to the stage. There's also a version of The Beatle's 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand' played as only the Melvins could.
The band leave us with Crover saying we will see them next year. I have no doubt. Lets see who they bring next time.
I Wanna Hold Your Hand
Edgar The Elephant
Sober-delic (Acid Only)
Onions Make The Milk Taste Bad