MUDHONEY @ UMS | 7/19/13 Mudhoney didn't spend a lot of time joking with the audience between songs at this show, but after the borderline cartoonish menace of "Judgment, Rage, Retribution and Thyme," Mark Arm said, "I feel like Colorado and Washington are sister states. There's no reason to play Peter Tosh's 'Legalize It' in either of them." This got a lot of laughs from the audience. "Unless you want to hear the song," Arm added.
Following this, the band went right into perhaps its most well-known, even iconic, song, "Touch Me I'm Sick." No matter how many times you've heard the song seeing these guys play it live never gets old because they always imbue it with the wiry bursts of unfettered energy and irreverence that went into writing it in the first place.
Much of the set consisted of material from the 2013 album Vanishing Point, including opening number "Slipping Away." The great, sweeping washes of sound modulated by wah from Turner gave the song an added layer of warping melody. "No One Has" from Superfuzz Bigmuff came as a bit of surprise in the first third of the set, while the bluesy introduction to "What To Do With The Neutral" gave way to a fiery conclusion.
Beginning with "I'm Now," Arm put down his guitar for a few songs and even more than before he surged forward with the raw emotional energy of the music, and at times, it looked like he would tip over sideways as he seemed to come close to careening out of control. But that's what a lot of Mudhoney's songs sound like anyway -- some machine barely held together but riding out internal momentum and competing pressures pulling one way or another or threatening to rupture out of one side or another.
The song where the band definitely sounded like it had pushed the energy to another level was "The Only Son of the Widow From Nain." Maybe it was the build, maybe it was the structure of the song not following any of the types of dynamics we've sort of come to expect from these guys.
But even as Dan Peters's rhythms maintained a propulsive momentum with accelerating fills into the beat keeping things steady, and Guy Maddison held the low end down as an anchor to the sonic hysteria generated by Turner and Arm, the song sounded like it was so close to flipping over to something uncontrollable just as it ended. Or perhaps it had and it just sounded like it was supposed to be part of the song proper -- either way, a great moment in an already great show.
That would have been the end, but there was some discussion at the side of the stage, and the guys got up for three more songs beginning with "Here Comes Sickness." After a rollicking "In And Out of Grace," Arm said to the audience, "Thank you, America. You're beautiful," which more or less bookended the show as he had said "Hello, America" at the beginning of the show. But it wasn't over and Mudhoney surprised us with Black Flag's "Fix Me" and did the song justice -- intense, dark sarcasm and all -- no mean feat.
Mudhoney Denver, CO July 19, 2013
01. Slipping Away 02. I Like It Small 03. You Got It (Keep It Outta My Face) 04. Suck You Dry 05. No One Has 06. Judgment, Rage, Retribution and Thyme 07. Touch Me I'm Sick 08. What To Do With The Neutral 09. I'm Now 10. [new? a cover?] 11. I Don't Remember 12. Chardonnay 13. The Only Son of the Widow From Nain
14. Here Comes Sickness 15. In And Out of Grace 16. Fix Me [Black Flag cover]
Personal Bias: I've been a fan of Mudhoney since the early '90s.
Random Detail: Ran into concert photographer Mike McGrath.
By the Way: The transition of background ambient light to dark from the beginning to the end of the set was an interesting visual aspect of the show.
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