Words: Alan Daly
Pics: © Olga Kuzmenko Photography
It’s been nearly two decades since I first (and last) saw Monster Magnet live. They were supporting mighty Metallica in The Point Depot on the Garage Inc. tour. To be honest, they didn’t make much of an impression on me back then, and the New Jersey space rockers never found their way into my CD (and later, MP3) collection. When tonight’s show was announced back in December, I was initially surprised to discover that they have continued to tour and record regularly in this millennium but figured they must be worth checking out if they’ve stood the test of time thus far.
When we arrive on this Sunday evening, the Tivoli is already bustling with a very respectable crowd, both in terms of numbers and demeanor. Maybe it’s because it is exam season, but there isn’t a spotty teenage face to be seen. Instead, the attendees are typically in their thirties and forties, a good mix of male and female, some sporting tour t-shirts older than the misfortunate Leaving Certificate students desperately trying to study in this unseasonably warm Irish Summer weather.
At precisely 9 pm, the house lights dim, and Monster Magnet join the stage one by one. Last to take his place is founding frontman Dave Wyndorf, who is greeted with a massive cheer from the surprisingly excitable audience. They open with ‘Dopes to Infinity’ taken from the 1995 album of the same name and the Black Sabbath influence is undeniable from the start. Wyndorf and co. are on top form, belting out the classic opener before unsurprisingly delving into their latest album Mindfucker, to air the first three tracks in sequence; ‘Rocket Freak’, ‘Soul’ and the title track. The crowd reaction is as enthusiastic for the new material as it is for older tracks like ‘Radiation Day’ and ‘Dinosaur Vacume’, the oldest track of the night taken from their sophomore 1993 album Superjudge.
Interaction and chit-chat with the crowd are rare, with the exception of the introduction to ‘Space Lord’, when Dave explains his pleasure in using the word “Motherfucker” in the song and urges the crowd to help out during the chorus. Very little encouragement is needed, and the crowd goes wild as soon as the intro riff kicks in, chanting “Space Lord Motherfucker” on cue. The band takes a few minutes outside the venue before returning for the usual three-song encore. One more from the new album, ‘Ejection’, and they wrap up with two older fan favorites, ‘End of Time’ and ‘Powertrip’. Wyndorf flips off everyone in the venue while leading the defiant sing-along lines “I’m never gonna work another day in my life. The gods told me to relax.” Thanks a lot, Dave, but most of us have to go back to the 9-to-5 after the bank holiday Monday!
Monster Magnet delivered more than I had prepared myself for and put on an entertaining and enthusiastic performance, notwithstanding tonight is the final date on this European tour. Never destined to garner the fame and fortune of the big bands of their time and genre, the band have done remarkably well to make a thirty-year career from their music, and are worthy of bigger audiences. If, like me, you have overlooked them, give them another chance. You’re unlikely to be disappointed.