Mudhoney @ The Corner
I’d argue to anyone that’d listen that the journey to the gig is at least a quarter of the fun. Last time I saw Mudhoney, it was during a Spanish general strike; Barcelones were rioting in the streets, setting municipal garbage skips alight and tagging the anarchy sign on women’s underwear shops. I stepped over a million spent cans of Estrella en route. It set the tone nicely. Our local boys The Meanies pumped the crowed of gassed Spaniards better than an EJ Whitten speech at three quarter time, before Mark Arm and his men promptly tore the seaside paradise a new one, twice or three times over. Wandering home in a ear-splitting haze, I had to elbow two lawless teenagers to maintain possession of my wallet and keys.
This time around was less colourful – just another Melbourne night of 45-degree angle rain and a safe heated taxi journey. But the inclement conditions didn’t stop a statistically significant sample of Melbourne’s flannel-wearing masses heading out for an evening with the Seattle grunge pioneers. Nor did it prevent a rollicking performance that showed turning 50’s got nothing to do with getting square and easing off, not if you’ve got it in your guts to serve the tunes loud and uncompromising, and you feed off the energy of a choked room full of the faithful hanging on each fuzzed-out note.
Arriving late, we caught only a glimpse of The Treatment, but enough to encourage a further look. They held it together tightly and made an agreeable racket. The masses built and the vibe was that of friendly backyard barbecue, post-lunch, pre-sunset and several visits to the bottlo in. When the Corner’s trusty but musty curtains were pulled back, on came Mudhoney with a quick nod, before plugging in and getting down to business, almost banter-free, for an hour and a half of reminding the assembled antipodeans about their supremacy and continuing relevance.
The set comprised a mix of old and new, with early recordings Let It Slide, Sweet Young Thing Ain’t Sweet No More and Touch Me I’m Sick featuring in the opening moments. The latter suitably marked the apex of crowd violence, with my gig-going partner taking it as an opportunity to move outwards and avoid the sort of physical injury sustained last time these folks were in town. From there, Arm downed his axe but didn’t unveil a batch of previously unreleased lounge music on us, working through older numbers with an easy and brutal vocal force. Goaded by the punters to re-gather his guitar, Arm returned for a blistering encore that turfed us onto Swan Street with no hearing and a hankering for potato cakes, safe in the knowledge that we’d spent the night in the company of rock and roll greatness.
BY BORIS BICYCLE
Photo credit: Richard Sharman
LOVED: Touch Me I'm Sick.
HATED: Destroying a pair of relatively pristine shoes in the pit.
DRANK: Various pale ales.