Reviewed by Bec Hennessy
Everyone knows Meat Puppets from Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged. Hell, that’s how I know them. Hardcore fans would also know they’d been around for over 10 years before that undeniably haunting and memorable performance. Over their career they’ve wandered in and around punk, country and psychedelic rock with a nonchalance that belies their obvious passion and determination.
I fell in love with their 14th (and latest) studio album Rat Farm. I waxed lyrical about it to a die-hard fan who had never heard it, seemingly never knew of its existence. Kind of summed up the crowd tonight, a mix of old and a pleasantly surprisingly number of new.
The band mosey onto the stage unassumingly. Cris Kirkwood‘s transcendental bass grooves take over his whole being. His facial expressions a lava lamp of fluid contemplation, whilst Curt’s our relaxed genial host. Shandon Sahm‘s drumming is as lean, tight and focused as he is. Whilst Elmo Kirkwood is the funny guy, interacting with the front row. There wasn’t much crowd interaction aside from Elmo. It was a bit like we had wandered into their basement while they were jamming and they smiled, indicated we sit down and got on with it. Though, don’t get me wrong they very much appeared to enjoy our presence.
Unsurprisingly, it was a rambling genre mash of a set. Unsurprisingly again, the crowd response peaked for the MTV Unplugged songs. Lake of Fire threw people off as the original is much more a frantically paced epic psychedelic jam. And in this instance they added some extra, extra jam. Tasty.
I’m happy to report the brothers odd, sweet vocal harmonies that I was so looking forward to stood the test of time. Just beautiful. The crowd continually adapted – when it got country they got all hoe down, when it got punk a pit emerged, when it got acid rock bodies meandered, heads nodded.
I know I’ve said it before but, this whole 80’s/90’s bands reforming or just touring again can be a bit hit (Alice In Chains) or miss (Stone Temple Pilots). I always approach it with nervous optimism, but I’m happy when it not only turns out decent, but damn good. And thankfully this was the case tonight.