MUDHONEY 90’S SEATTLE GRUNGE AT MANCHESTER RITZ UK 7TH SEPTEMBER 2022

 

 

Before the world went Nirvana crazy in the early 1990’s there was Mudhoney. A band who way back in 1988 effectively kicked the embryonic Seattle music scene into the global domination it would become with their inflammable debut single ‘Touch Me I’m Sick?’. Celebrated by scene gods, Nirvana, the Pacific Northwest punk-metal hybrid pioneers are in Manchester’s Ritz tonight on the first date of a mini-UK tour. They’re a band I’ve not seen for nearly thirty years, so have they still got it?

The Ritz venue’s famous sprung dance floor is near to full capacity and I scan the crowd to see a wide-ranging audience. From long-standing Sub Pop T-Shirt wearing 50-something fans to teens who are newcomers to the “Seattle Sound” and were definitely not born at the time the Seattle group’s ‘Superfuzz Bigmuff EP’ was released on the UK music scene in 1988.  A UK music scene about to be dominated by all things Manchester.  A UK music scene where the record may have been missed.

Taking the stage to an animated welcome, the throbbing drums and sludge guitar of ‘Into the drink’ from 1991s classic album “Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge”, much-loved 1992 single ‘Suck You Dry’ and the gaunt ‘Nerve Attack’ from 2018’s “Digital Garbage” complete the band’s first three. The bands only line-up change in 21 years is the addition of bassist Guy Maddison in 2001 and it shows. The foursome of vocalist Mark, guitarist Steve, drum legend Dan and Guy are tighter and more dynamic sounding than when I last caught them live at 1992’s Reading festival on stage before Nirvana’s legendary, but tragically last UK gig. However, so far, it’s thankfully the same dishevelled guitars and primal menace on show that made Kurt such a fan back in the day.

Everyone’s well and truly warmed-up and cheers break out as the exceptionally distinctive intro drumming of the near commercial sounding ‘Good Enough’ winds up the passion in the bouncing crowd further. Still long-haired and 1980s-skinny, Arm’s unique approach to guitar is evident on ‘Judgement, Rage, Retribution and Thyme’ and ‘Fearless Doctor’ before crowd favourite ‘Sweet Young Thing (Ain’t Sweet No More) and ‘This Gift’ showcase his still astonishing vocals.

 

 

 

If I’m ever asked to describe the essence of the Seattle sound, I always say listen to Mudhoney’s ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’. The song’s raw, primal energy sums up the genre perfectly for me and it was an ever-present record played at this very venue in ‘me yuff’ by the legendary Manchester DJ John Gannon. It’s the band’s most identifiable song and its forcefully distorted fluctuating rhythm of indistinct guitars, unsharpened bass and energetic drumming are on fire tonight. Arm’s well-observed lyrics are dispensed with suitable bitterness and knit with Steve’s guitar perfectly. It’s met with energetic, but harmless slam-dancing, even older audience members joining in the euphoric mass at the front of the stage.

The velocity is turned up further with an electrifying ‘Get Into Yours’, ‘Next Mass Extinction’, the political ‘Fearless Doctor Killers (FDK)’ and the diverting ‘Oh Yeah’ showcasing the sonic foundation of the band perfectly with a blend of edgy and unsettling guitar and slanted solos. For those tracks where Mark puts down his Gretsch or Fender he is truly in his element as a frontman. His vocal performance throughout the night is jaw-dropping and effortless.  There are no breaks and banter is minimal between songs and the raucous audience call the band back on stage for a well-deserved encore. The band raising the intensity to another level again with the stunning ‘In ‘n’ Out of Grace’, ‘Who You Drivin’ Now?’ and powered by Dan’s jaw-dropping drumming the anarchic primal threat of last song ‘Here Comes Sickness’.

Tonight is about pure rock ‘n’ roll enthusiastically attacked by four musicians who on this form are untouchable and despite playing together for thirty years still deliver something fresh and exciting. Something that is just enough below the radar to never propel them to the success of Nirvana. Something that possibly Kurt would loved to have achieved. 

 

 

SETLIST

1/ Into the Drink

2/ Suck You Dry

3/ Nerve Attack

4/ Inside Job

5/ Prosperity Gospel

6/ This Gift (first performance since 2017)

7/ Good Enough

8/ Judgement, Rage, Retribution and Thyme

9/ Sweet Young Thing (Ain’t Sweet No More)

10/ Touch Me I’m Sick

11/ Need

12/ Get Into Yours

13/ Next Mass Extinction

14/ F.D.K. (Fearless Doctor Killers)

15/ Oh Yeah

16/ I’m Now

17/ Paranoid Core

18/ Chardonnay

19/ 21st Century Pharisees

20/ One Bad Actor

Encore:

21/ When Tomorrow Hits

22/ In ‘n’ Out of Grace

23/ Who You Drivin’ Now?

24/ Here Comes Sickness

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I've loved music since forever. Graphic designer, photographer and artist at painted.papillon.smile (www.ppsdesign.co.uk)

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