Melvins @ o2 Institute2, Birmingham, 5 June 2023

The appeal of Melvins might be difficult to grasp for some, but when you know you know, and the audience at the o2 tonight knew.

Much of Melvins’ back catalogue has a stoner rock vibe, the sort of dirty guitar you can roll around on the floor to. From this evening’s setlist you can hear this particularly in ‘A History of Bad Men’ and ‘Boris’. Other tracks are more pacy and aggressive, with thrashy riffs. There are plenty of songs that don’t follow a conventional structure, and these are what make the band stand out.

Melvins were at the height of their fame in the early nineties, but they’ve not been forgotten, and they have a place at the heart of the Washington music scene which gave rise to grunge and sludge metal. They also have a discography big enough to fill this venue, which by the way is pretty much sold out.

The band came on stage to Aha’s ‘Take On Me’ with excited fans exclaiming “I think I can see Buzz”. He’s usually the first one you see due to his trademark afro, and has the long-standing nickname “King Buzzo”. Bass player Steven McDonald also makes a big impression with the triple combo of his height, unique dress and fantastically long hair. Tonight he wore a red satin tunic with matching trousers. He comes across as the happy one in the band, and you can’t help but get swept up in the atmosphere seeing him jump about with a big smile.

Drummer Dale Crover often gets lost visually behind the other two, and in the lights and smoke, but he’s a brilliant and energetic drummer. He also took a moment to talk to the crowd from the front before the encore, saying “A day without dancing is a day wasted”.

The setlist was made up of hits from more than seven Melvins albums, but of course a few tracks from current album Bad Mood Rising were included – ‘Hammering’ and ‘Never Say You’re Sorry’.

The highlight moments for me tonight were headbanger ‘Honey Bucket’ and ‘Night Goat’ (both from best-selling album Houdini). ‘Night Goat’ has a colossal bass riff, belty vocals and is a great song to release your anger to. There was also a parting solo stint by “King Buzzo” at the end of encore song ‘Boris’, a song hailing from the band’s early days. There was so much intimacy in Buzz’s final few moments that you could really see into his soul. All in all this was a great opportunity to see a pioneering band at their best.


  1. Take Snake Appeal
  2. Zodiac
  3. Copache
  4. I Want to Hold Your Hand
  5. Hammering
  6. Never Say You’re Sorry
  7. Evil New War God
  8. Let It All Be
  9. Blood Witch
  10. Your Blessened
  11. A History of Bad Men
  12. Honey Bucket
  13. Revolve
  14. Night Goat
  15. Boris

Review: Chrissie Duxson

Feature photograph courtesy of PR. Credit: Bob Hannam

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