On the hottest day in England since records began, I had a sweaty, heavy post-grunge gig at the Islington Assembly in North London to attend, with a nice hot journey to and from the venue on the Northern ‘furnace” Line to boot.
That’s the negatives out of the way. Let’s now concentrate on the positives. You never know which Wes Scantlin you’re going to get when Puddle Of Mudd are in town but tonight he deserves full credit for getting his shit together and performing at the top of his game. Scantlin has, in the past, been a mess and gigs suffered as a consequence. This time around he’s not only one year into a recovery programme, but unbeknown to everyone at the time, is performing suffering with illness.
There’s no gentle build-up as they launch straight into Control, which definitely gets the approval of the audience. As one, they join Scantlin on vocals. The mood continues in this vein as the song brilliantly segues into Black Sabbath’s War Pigs, which is a great way to give the punters confidence in what lays ahead. Matt Fuller adds fuel with some great guitar work, while the powerhouse rhythm section of Dave Moreno (drums) and Michael John Adams (bass) are relentless in the heat.
When I last saw Puddle of Mudd, Scantlin’s performance left little to be desired and the band, although carrying him admirably throughout, were unable to relax and enjoy the occasion. In complete contrast tonight, Wes gives us a quality performance, which impacts on the rest of the band.Fuller is a joy on lead guitar, leaping about with the widest of grins on his face, with Adams also joining in on the fun. When you have a band in this mood it rubs off on the audience and they’re left enjoying every minute as the band play hit after hit.
Puddle Of Mudd hail from Kansas and, although never on the same level as Seattle’s finest grunge masters (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, and Soundgarden), the band have sold over seven million albums and a string of No.1 mainstream rock singles in the United States. They include just about every one of them in their 75-minute set tonight.
She Hates Me, the brilliant Blurry, Psycho, and Drift And Die are all included and, boy, does the audience appreciate it. It may well be 37 degrees outside, a billion degrees inside, but nothing’s going to stop us having a good time.
The band sign off with their latest single, Uh Oh, from new album Galvania scheduled to be released in September. It’s another autobiographical ditty from Scantlin, who explains: “Yes, I lost the house, the cars and got her out of my life and I am bloody happy.” It’s a new chapter in the life less ordinary chosen by the singer who’s still around to tell the tales.
Photography and live review of Puddle Of Mudd at Islington Assembly Hall on Thursday 25th July 2019 by Phil Honley. Phil has his own photography site here: http://www.gigsnapz.co.uk