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Mudhoney - Forum, London, 31/7/2008

  by Chris O'Toole

published: 31 / 7 / 2008

Mudhoney - Forum, London, 31/7/2008


At their only show this year in Britain, Chris O' Toole at gig at the Forum in London finds pioneers of grunge Mudhoney's primitive, explosive rock to have lost none of their bite

Forever destined to be a cult band, Mudhoney are credited with inventing grunge and taking a back seat as it exploded and ate itself. While others – Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearljam – burned too brightly for a few fleeting moments before succumbing to artistic ennui, megalomaniacal self-indulgence and suicide, Mudhoney remained below the radar, producing a string of critically acclaimed records and making Sub Pop a (student) household name. Pioneers in every sense, Mudhoney blended the primitivism of the Stooges, with metal posture and punk attitude to make a high-powered alloy never even considered for mass production. And while their brand of American drop-out romanticism never earned them the big payday of their contemporaries, they were compensated with a fanatical fan base and the longevity which eluded their peers. As such they are still on tour while others have fallen by the wayside. Taking the stage tonight at the Kentish Town Forum – an art deco cinema originally built during the 1930's – the group is greeted with a just shy of capacity crowd baying for blood. Largely composed of large males, the crowd is rabid in support of their chosen messiahs. Support act the Country Teasers – offering a form of Fall light, with more twisted wit and a penchant for sarcasm in music and voice – have been tossed aside in preparation for the main event, and it appears nothing can stop the band's triumphant return for their only UK show of the year. The first thing to be noted is the sound. Deafeningly loud and virtually relentless as the group – playing as a four-piece – thrash out the opening chords. Mark Arm begins as a straight out, if some what manic, vocalist before picking up his guitar four songs into the set. It is following this change of calibration that Mudhoney really hit their stride, powering through their back catalogue – including the infamous first single 'Touch Me I'm Sick' (a high-water mark of grunge, if not recorded sound) while the crowd bays and writhes with adulation. While Mudhoney gigs are notorious as chaotic affairs, teetering on the edge of complete disorder, tonight they, however, seem professional and organised. Their stage set-up reeks of a band who have been on the road for years and their performance is composed and controlled. The group know what their fans desire (down to the trite political posturing; "Thanks to the police all over the world for giving us something to hate") and they know how to give it to them. 'Sweet Young Thing' and 'Suck You Dry' elicit the strongest response from the crowd surfing multitudes before the set winds up in a neat hour. 'In and Out of Grace' virtually pushes the assembled fans over the edge by way of an encore, before an orderly departure. After this long in the game there can be few surprises left for Mudhoney. And that is just how their fans like it. Primitive, explosive rock with bite – and all the better for it.

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Mudhoney - Forum, London, 31/7/2008

Mudhoney - Forum, London, 31/7/2008

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