Melvins review: The band were relentless until their set drew to a close with a brutal drum solo

Melvins headlining The Waterfront in Norwich. Photo: Patrick Widdess

Melvins headlining The Waterfront in Norwich. Photo: Patrick Widdess - Credit: Patrick Widdess

Veteran US rockers the Melvins made their debut appearance in Norwich and fans came out in force for their bass heavy set at The Waterfront.

The night opened with a distinguished support act in the form of Jon Spencer of The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Tonight he was with his band the Hit Makers. He played a long set for a support act with no let up in energy and passion. Unfortunately the sound was rather dense much of the time with Jon's distinctive wild man rock vocals lost in overdriven guitar, synth and a double dose of percussion from a drummer and guy bashing the contents of a scrap yard with a couple of hammers.

The Melvins boasted two bass players, Steven Shane McDonald and Jeff Pinkus, who opened with a meandering spaced out instrumental which grew heavier as they were joined by drummer Dale Crover and guitarist Buzz Osborne who looked demonic in wizard robes and a mighty shock of white hair.

The band launched into the kind of rock that thunders through the veins with pain or pleasure depending on the listener's taste and stamina. Those at the Waterfront went wild as this famously uncompromising act romped through new songs from latest album Pinkus Abortion Technician and across their back catalogue. All members shared vocal duties. The only weakness was Steven's slightly lighter rock and roll vocals which didn't quite carry at times but mostly the sound was well balanced. There was nuance to the noise with quieter moments and softer vocals, clattering percussion and touches of blues and rock and roll in the midst of the sludgy sound which influenced the likes of Nirvana and Soundgarden.

Things stepped up a gear when a mosh pit opened up during the classic Honey Bucket. This was followed by a personal highlight The Bit. As Buzz played the menacing twang of the intro over and over Dale stood behind the drum kit conducting the other two members to deliver swelling crescendoes of bass before all hell broke loose as the band delivered this deliciously evil piece of death metal from their back catalogue. It was followed by new song Don't Forget to Breathe – a chant with a bluesy, sinister edge.

Fans continued throwing themselves around the mosh pit and the band were relentless until their set drew to a close with a brutal drum solo, more avant garde bass noodling and then the band departed leaving drummer Dale Crover to serenade the crowd with So Long, Farewell in a surreal ending to an absolute horror show of a gig!