Melvins + The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion @ O2 Academy 2, Birmingham, UK – 23rd October 2018

Review and photography by Robert Barrett

I’d heard rumours after the Melvins set in Digbeth last year that ear drums were blown and minds were melted. I expected much of the same when they played the O2 Academy on Tuesday, and with my ears still ringing I can easily say they delivered.

After heading upstairs to the O2 Academy 2 The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion took to the stage. Known for his raucous live sets, Jon seemed slightly more subdued tonight. Perhaps this was due to the static crowd. However with two drummers (one using hammers on old car parts) he still delivered a fantastic warm up set.

Fans didn’t have to wait long after until The Melvins stepped out onto the stage. Lead singer / guitarist Buzz Osbourne dressed in a outfit embroidered with eyes. The band are well known for the line up changes, currently the band consists of original members Buzz Osbourne and Dale Crover alongside two bassists, Jeff Pinkus from the Butthole Surfers and Steve Shane McDonald from Redd Kross. The wonderfully titled ‘Sesame Street Meat’ kicked off the set. From the first rumbles of the bass the band had the crowd gripped by the neck.

The Melvins have been incredibly active for the past 30 years, and the career spanning set highlighted the diversity of the sound. Classics such as ‘Honey Bucket’ and ‘Onions Make the Milk Taste Bad’ worked alongside tracks from the new album ‘Pinkus Abortion Technician’. They even chucked in unusual covers of Bowie and the Rolling Stones, always keeping the audience on their toes. Considering the constant touring schedule, the band seemed to be putting maximum effort into making every song as bone rattling as possible.

An easy highlight for me was ‘Don’t Forget to Breath’ which made great use of the sludgy duel bass’s and Buzz’s face melting guitar tones. It’s mesmerising just to watch Buzz shred the guitar with such ease.

As the final distorted guitar tone rang out, Buzz joined the crowd in singing happy birthday to drummer Dale. After the singalong a small cake was presented to him, he rewarded us with another singalong to ‘So Long, Farewell’. An unexpected end to one of the rock shows of the year, but what else would you expect from the Melvins?

(The original version of this article was first published on Gigjunkies

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