Grinderman, Leeds University Refectory, 27th September 2010

The aural equivalent to being spat on, support act The Hunter Gracchus subject a bemused audience to 15 minutes of improvised white noise. This consists of electric guitar and violin feedback, a dying saxophone and the old cliché, a wailing woman; if you’re planning on butchering your family with a pick axe and want some appropriate music to do it to, this band is for you.

Once the blood from a few audience member’s ears is mopped up from off the floor, Grinderman take to the stage, playing material from their first album ‘Grinderman’ and their recently released follow up, ‘Grinderman 2′.Nick Cave’s capabilities as a frontman/singer/songwriter/general God amongst men have been well documented and any word from me is frankly unnecessary. But I’ll carry on anyway.

Fulfilling his dream of playing the ‘Leeds University Cafeteria’, Cave prowls and spits across the few metres of stage that he has available to him, his raw and pounding outbursts covering everything from mythical beasts to Gardener’s Question Time. Grinderman banish the subtleties of Cave’s other long term band The Bad Seeds (of which all three members of Grinderman also belong to), washed away in a sea of sweat and filthy lyrics and even filthier bass lines. What the band lack in imagination for album titles they make up for in the relentless barrages of sexual frustration and ferociously aggressive guitars and drums that characterise the Grinderman sound.

Amid all this, ‘Palaces of Montezuma’s melodic conventionality stands out, a rolling drum and bass line flowing underneath Cave’s ode to a lover that he’ll give her, amongst other things, “the spinal cord of JFK, wrapped in Marilyn Monroe’s negligee” in return for a bit of “precious love”. It’s this twisted romanticism that gives Grinderman their unique spirit, all clearly passionate men, but also all wonderfully unhinged. The acoustic ‘What I Know’ shows a vulnerability to Cave’s voice some may have forgotten existed while ‘Get It On’, ‘No Pussy Blues’ and ‘Bellringer Blues’ all burn with trademark Cave fury. Each song is bolstered by Warren Ellis’ vicious stabs at his comically small electric guitar and violin, creating a noise that grates and enthralls at the same time. “Oh won’t somebody touch me?” Cave pleads during the hyperactive ‘Honeybee (Let’s Fly To Mars)’- but the man is untouchable.

Albert’s Grinderman interview from earlier in September can still be heard here on Untitled Noise in his blog for 15th September.

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