Saturday, 17 September 2022


The Old Market, Hove, Sat 10th Sept 

Three years later, mclusky are back with their patented brand of catchy noise. Albeit shorn of the asterisk they sported last time and with a different (but equally bearded) bassist. The occasion is the twentieth anniversary of ’mclusky do dallas’, the album which people tend to rate the highest but I don’t have a copy of. (It’s inexplicably more expensive than the others.)

Last time there was a general feeling of old friends re-united. This gig starts like they mean business, songs piling after another like paratroopers out through the bow doors. It’s several songs in before frontman Falco (aka Andrew Falcous) speaks. And from there his chatty self gradually resurfaces. (Seems someone sort of important had died recently. He was unimpressed. More than that I couldn’t tell you.) Though more than a few times the relentless pace resumes. I suppose there will be those keen to tell you they were more on it back in the day. But it’s hard to see how, quite honestly.

The bearded bassist sings a few tracks. And while there’s nothing wrong with these in themselves, it does underline the importance of Falco’s voice in these proceedings, which could cut through finery like a laser, phasers on derision. It’s a voice made to go with abrasive guitar. Giving the de rigeur general thanks at the end, he confesses it’s hard for him to sound sincere.

I said last time their default position was “outside the frame of their songs, pissing in. It’s like a role reversal in which through their songs they heckle the audience.” But their target range may be wider than that, and there are times when the band sound like they’re heckling the band.

Titling a track ’Fuck This Band’, and adding lyrics like “cause they swear too much/It’s an obvious ploy/And irresponsible” already seems like offering up a hostage to fortune. Starting the set with it is like tying that hostage up to an inviting-looking post like Fay Wray. Falco explains another number is “not a how-to guide but a warning from history,” which may well be how he sees the band’s history. The whole thing as one grand folly, but let’s do it anyway.

At which point the not unimportant subject of humour in mclusky should be mentioned. Which is of course of the black variety, but also the funny kind, with lines like “If I had to give you something then I think I’d give you nothing.” Last time I described Falco as exuding a “nihilistic chirpiness”. And the humour keeps proceedings upbeat, even as they’re entirely negative.

You can never be quite sure how much a singer attracts an audience of the same mindset, or simply stamps his personality upon the crowd. But for a noisy punk gig it’s remarkably good-humoured. You come out of a mclusky gig feeling like you had a great time, rather than expressed your frustration with society or some such. About the last thing I heard after the set closed was someone calling out form the mosh pit, asking if anyone had lost their glasses. I bet that doesn’t happen with Metallica.

From Manchester...

Concorde 2, Brighton, Mon 12th Sept

…anyway, onto a noisy guitar band that starts with an M. After said after their last sighting, now twelve years ago, Mudhoney are essentially the anti-Nirvana, the Seattle band who stayed Grungey and so bypassed superstardom and escaped unscathed.

Exiting the venue, the inevitable flier thrust at me turned out to be only for tribute bands. Which seemed strangely incongruous for the gig I’d just seen. Yes, all too often acts became their own tribute bands, knocking out the hits each night from muscle memory alone. But Mudhoney seem unwitherable by age, the flame that lit them burning still. At one point they jest they’re all dead, they’re just carrying on anyway. Something I could see happening.

Had Nirvana not ended for too-often-told reasons, could they have lasted this long? It’s an unanswerable question, but my guess is not. There’s a clutch of new songs. And if they’re not exactly wild stylistic departures from their predecessors, they stand up well against their predecessors. More Mudhoney sounds like more Mudhoney. Which wasn’t Nirvana’s way.

Frontman Mark Arm, in what becomes a running gag, tells us the new album isn’t out till April, and - somewhat gleefully - who to blame. In fact they seem a chattier, more genial bunch than the no-nonsense outfit of before. They sometimes joke between themselves off-mike, like they’d forgotten we were here.

And, perhaps linked, there seems a little more high-spirited send-up to proceedings than before. But never enough self-awareness to get clever or knowing. Which is all to the good. Mudhoney learnt much from the Stooges. Including this, it seems.

The only complaint I could come up with is that there’s a long guitar solo, then later (yes, really) a drum solo. Surely we took to Grunge because it offered a cure against such ills! It offered a way of re-aquainting with rock, but only the parts we wanted back. The guitar solo number is followed by the snappiest, punkiest number of the set, an acknowledgement it needed some counterbalancing.

From Glasgow...

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