Melvins and Jon Spencer Take Over Stylus, 26.10.18

It’s a punctual 7.30 start for Jon Spencer whose hot, sweaty, garage noise blasting out around Stylus presents a welcome respite from the Baltic winds ravaging the streets outside. Stripped of Judah Bauer and Russell Simins’ driving Blues Explosion backing, one might expect tonight to be more of a subdued affair. Spencer, however, can’t help himself and the audience is treated to a clattering garage blues assault – made all the more “clattering” by the fact that Spencer’s percussionist and former Pussy Galore cohort, Bob Bert, is playing some scrap metal and a dustbin with hammers.

Spencer and ‘The Hitmakers’ blast through tracks from his upcoming solo album, Spencer Plays The Hits. We get “Time 2 Be Bad”, the stop/start trash-punk of ‘I Got The Hits’ and the fuzzy march of ‘Overload’. Keyboardist Sam Coomes’ low-squall provides ‘Beetle Boots’ and ‘Ghost’ with an anchoring pulse. Jon even throws in a few JSBX deep cuts for the fans in the form of ‘Dang’ and ‘Shirt Jac’. The set draws to a close with Spencer, in full faux-gospel orator mode, pleading “People! Let me tell you ladies and gentlemen! I begin to feel like a fool! It ain’t right! Putting children in cages!” Just in case we weren’t sure as to what or whom he was alluding, Spencer punctuates his sermon with a howled “Fuck Trump!” – a sentiment which, like all of tonight’s set, is emphatically cheered.

From no bass to all of the bass. Melvins, now sporting a second bassist in the form of one-time Butthole Surfer, Jeff Pinkus, loom into view to the tectonic-shifting riffage of ‘Sesame Street Meat’. Dale, Buzz, Steven and Jeff proceed to plough through a 30-year repertoire of pummeling doom rock and assorted oddities. Early tracks like ‘At A Crawl’, ‘Eye Flys’ and ‘Anaconda’ are wedged next to more modern monoliths such as ‘Onions Make The Milk Taste Bad’ and ‘Don’t Forget To Breathe’. This, of course, wouldn’t be a Melvins’ set without a bunch of obtuse covers, so Bowie’s ‘Saviour Machine’, The Rolling Stones’ ‘Sway’ and The James Gang’s ‘Stop’ are thrashed into submission. Melvins conclude with a birthday sing-a-long for Pinkus who is “Fifty One-derful”, fading into Dale Crover’s crooned rendition of ‘So Long, Farewell’ from The Sound of Music. As inimitably bizarre and wonderful as always.

Stephen Lewin

Header Image Credit Jamila Pomeroy