Mudhoney: Institute, Birmingham – live review
10th June 2013
Garage Punk Grunge Pioneers Mudhoney returned to the UK in June to remind us all just how bloody good they are.
They start with a hum of the most messed up, feedback inducing, deep bastard rumble of bass. They piss about, making a shambolic noise and then Mark grips his guitar and the fuzzed out nastiness breaks free and they are running straight into your head.
They give us huge psychedelic freak outs that spiral off into the night, taking our hearing with them, they give us punked up slabs of pure grunge loveliness, making this crowd of oddities and misfits shout and scream along. Sure their new album is great but if I’m honest I’m here to get a fix of Touch Me I’m Sick brilliance. They have grown with their music, Vanishing Point being one of the albums of this year for me, but they have never grown up. Mudhoney were always a glorious mess, a fusion of punk attitude nasty sound and the laid back humour that peppered their gigs. Tonight, in response to the crowds shouts of ‘smile!’ Mark and Steve stand, waving with big cheesy grins for a hundred smart phone cameras.
They look older and not at all wiser, Steve on guitar has a mop of curly black hair and is thin, Dan sits with a natty hat smiling as he pounds out an earthquake on the drums. Mark looks just like he always did, long hair, T-shirt and jeans, the biggest suprise is that Guy on bass has morphed into American Dad, rock solid jawline, rugged stature and rolled up shirt sleeves. But we haven’t come here tonight to chat about how the band look, we want the Fuzz, we want the chopped up punk riffs and Stooges howling, the originators of that much maligned phrase Grunge, they invented it and they still kick the ass of anyone else trying to appropriate it. The minute they slam into ‘You Got It’ everything is forgotten and I am twenty again, sticking my head in the speakers and screaming along. They give us perfect bites of noise, blowing a bass speaker, giving away tennis shoes and segueing into a free jazz wigout at one stage. Just perfect.
Best moment, when Mark Arm leans into the mic and screams ‘Jesus take me to a higher place!!!!’ no messing, Mudhoney are still the same brilliant band you fell in love with all those years ago.
All words by Adrian Bloxham. More work by Adrian on Louder Than War can be found here.
All photos by Kerry Jane Lakin.