Gig review: Mudhoney at Leeds Beckett University Students Union

On an evening when the Leeds transport infrastructure felt particular strain, one might have been forgiven for not venturing into town to catch Sub-Pop's finest Mudhoney paying a welcome visit as part of the band's 30th anniversary tour.


With this in mind, those making the effort will no doubt have appreciated the band’s 9,000 mile round trip to share some new ‘Digital Garbage’ numbers with their ardent fans, whilst also piling through several Mudhoney classics, taking the audience back to an era when the Seattle scene dominated mainstream guitar music for a short yet thrilling period; the centre of the rock and roll universe in fact.

Witnessing veteran garage rocker Jim Jones dusting off his 80s cult outfit Thee Hypnotics, also signed to Sub-Pop back in the day, proved a real bonus; Jones and his bandmates rolling back the years, strutting their stuff in a surprisingly enjoyable support slot, leading yours truly on a post-gig stampede, revisiting their back catalogue.

Despite looking somewhat older and with a few more miles on the clock, tonight Mudhoney easily prove they’ve lost none of their live spark. Frontman Mark Arm may not surf the crowd as often as he once did, although that may be due to pragmatism taking over, the bones becoming increasingly brittle as one passes the half-century mark. Nevertheless, those in attendance more than made up for it, witness the sight of a few poor souls periodically carried out, their predicament presumably either due to intoxication, the mosh pit or both.

To the uninitiated, Mudhoney may seem to be just another grunge band although their trademark sound was always more complex, defying that simplistic categorization. Taking a pinch of North American college rock, blending it with the b-movie noir from whence they took their name, together with a generous slice of swamp blues, the quartet veering erratically somewhere between Sabbath and Stooges; loose enough to get the heads bobbing, yet super tight, propelling you through song after song at breakneck speed.

Arm’s screeching vocal also seemed in fine fettle, his larynx seemingly made of titanium, either that or his pre-and post-gig exercises also involve gargling a mouthful of Castrol, the quartet opening with the cartoon menace of ‘Into The Drink’. We’re treated to shiny new ‘Digital Garbage tracks ‘Hey Neanderfuck’, ‘Nerve Attack’ and ‘Kill Yourself Live’ interspersed with classics including ‘Touch Me I’m Sick’, ‘You Got It’, and ‘Here Comes Sickness’, not forgetting their raucous Dicks ’cover ‘Hate the Police’, demonstrating with aplomb to all and sundry, the art of growing old disgracefully.