I miss the first couple of songs by Canadian trio, Metz; but even from outside the room you can hear how loud they are. Once inside the venue, loud doesn’t even come close to the extreme noise produced by this band. As described on the Sub Pop website, Metz are “like one brutally heavy instrument with three heads, slashing heavy-gauge strings, bending guitar and bass necks in weird unison, along with what is probably the loudest drumming you’ve ever heard” – and that is no understatement. Despite the volume, Metz have a melodic element that clearly draws influence from the early 90’s alternative scene, most obviously Nirvana’s Bleach. They navigate a tricky path, staying on the right side of cacophony to ensure an interesting experience which not only attacks your ears but pounds through your whole body. Metz are definitely worth checking out both on record and live, just don’t expect your ears to work properly the following day.
Seattle veterans, Mudhoney, take to the stage prepared to unleash Poisoned Water but with minor sound issues it takes a couple of minutes to get going but when it does, it is clear that the band are on top form and this is to be one almighty set. Since 1988, Mudhoney have consistently produced excellent, no nonsense garage rock, releasing music that appears to not have aged in the slightest yet never found them the commercial success of their peers. Lacking in popularity means that Mudhoney still play small venues and fill them with truly appreciative fans who lap up every track of the night. The set mixes songs from their new album, Vanishing Point, with their more established and considerable back catalogue, all of which are performed with the vitality and vigour of a band that could be in the early 20’s. Slipping Away and the catchy I Like It Small are the first offerings from the recent album and show Mudhoney’s capacity at song writing has not gone astray, but the overwhelming response from the crowd begins with You Got It (Keep It Outta My Face) from their classic album Superfuzz Bigmuff. The audience is made up of over 30’s relishing the upbeat vibe generated by the band, and this is demonstrated the number of people in the pit jumping while the rest are smiling and singing along. Further into the set, vocalist Mark Arm has to discourage people from shouting out the songs they want to hear considering the lengthy set list has already been written; although, within the same breath, he does pay homage to Sabbath and ensures he pronounces Birmingham correctly.
This quartet show a commitment to making music which becomes even more apparent when Arm puts down his guitar and takes his vocals to another level. Without the confines of an instrument, Arm becomes larger than life, kicking his legs behind him and lurching towards the vivacious crowd, whilst Steve Turner and Guy Maddison happily continue blasting out their take on punk. Clearly, Mudhoney’s older tracks are the most popular with the anthemic Touch Me I’m Sick raising hell especially with its interesting defunct and premature ending but the new material sits comfortably amongst it because the band clearly and effortlessly know the sound they are trying to create. After an intense and what seems a very short hour, the set draws to a close with The Only Son of the Widow from Nain, leaving us all with the sense that there is more left to come. And what a blinder of an encore Mudhoney provide us with; starting with three tremendous songs back to back, Into the Drink, Here Comes Sickness and the alternative classic In’n’Out of Grace, which sees Dan Peters exploit his power as a drummer revving both the audience and the other members of the band for an explosive performance. Maddison gives away a pair of worn trainers which have been signed by the band that presents more of an opportunity for Arm to engage mockingly with the crowd followed by the rousing introduction Mommy, Mommy, Mommy of Hate the Police, which sees a number of people crowd surfing completed by a cover of Black Flag’s Fix Me.
After 90 minutes of blistering rock, Mudhoney depart the stage undoubtedly leaving everyone in the venue impressed and content with an awesome performance. It amazes me that Mudhoney are not drawing in a younger crowd as their music encapsulates a timeless quality that smacks you round the face, which is rarely to be seen by bands with less history. However, the lack of success means we still get to see them in intimate venues where their music can pack the biggest punch.
Review by Toni Woodward
Photographs by Steve Gerrard