Meat Puppets+ Bleedin' Noses + Munky
Thursday 20th June 2019
ULU Live, London
Arizona Alt-Rockers The Meat Puppets initially gained widespread attention in 1993 when the Kirkwood brothers joined Nirvana on stage for their legendary MTV unplugged performance. They formed in 1980 and served as a major influence on Grunge bands in the early 90's with their blend of Cow-Punk, Country and Psychedelic Rock.
Roll forward to 2019, resembling ZZ Top in look (the band are fans apparently) it is somewhat surprising then that they now play smaller venues such as ULU, but great for fans who get to experience them in an intimate setting. The band broke-up twice (Cris experienced crack and heroin addiction, the death of his wife from an overdose and a spell in prison having being shot by a security guard he attacked). It is then a minor miracle that the brothers, together with original drummer Derek Bostrom retain the original line-up and are joined by the synthesiser of Rob Stabinsky and Kurts's son Elmo on bass.
It is difficult to categorise the Meat Puppets because their range of styles is so eclectic and it is particularly satisfying that their set is so varied, like hearing a number of bands on the same bill. Their new album 'Dusty Notes' was released in March and is their 15th studio album to date, with some of the songs showcased in today’s set. Surprisingly the material from this album is their most Country mainstream, giving the gig a Hillbilly hoedown feel at times . The inclusion of synthesiser though gives a weird twist on this genre so that their songs retain a freshness.
They are at their best when they play their elongated Space-Rock jams with Kurt’s droning vocals, which has a mesmerising effect on the listener and sends one’s mind into orbit like on the ten minute version of 'Up on the Sun'. They also include the two songs they played on the Nirvana MTV gig - the hypnotic 'Plateau' and 'Lake of Fire' which turns into a dance-inducing lengthy workout.
This was a phenomenal gig served up by a very special band. Also, not forgetting opening act Bleedin’ Noses, hailing from South Wales, with their energetic brand of Country and Punk, got the crowd going, and second support Munky, the Dublin based-band, delivering a funky tribute to Bootsy Collins.
Ivan De Mello (pictures courtesy Bruce Biege and Andrew Turner)