I’m not saying girls don’t like Mudhoney (***) – that would be a ridiculous and sexist generalisation. But judging by tonight, it’s fair to say that maturing male grunge vets definitely do like Mudhoney, constituting a fair slice of the crowd and ensuring that the heavy checked-shirt is tonight’s unofficial uniform.
Though mostly wrapped in toilet paper, at least one plaid collar can be glimpsed through the Andrex coating three quarters of Unnatural Helpers (****), who deliver loud riffs, big drums and the lion’s share of highlights. Their brisk set is part Part Chimp with pop highlights, shot through with a vitality that the headliners can can't quite match this evening.
That’s not to say that the Seattle survivors aren’t capable of teaching their younger label-mates a trick or two. The solos are loud enought to shake faces and, once freed from his guitar, Mark Arm remains an engaging stage presence. And then there are the songs: Into the Drink opens strongly; When Tomorrow Hits’ slow stoner jam segues instantly into the propulsive punk rattle of In N Out of Grace to hit the spot with sledgehammer force; while Touch Me I’m Sick is fired out early with controlled aggression.But there are stretches of boredom, where the riffs grow stiff and the band seem distant (a disconnect noted by the band, who bemoan the “giant moats you have around castles in Scotland” in reference to the distance from stage to front row). They’ve still got ‘it’ for sure, its just a little less in our face than previous form.