Words and Pics: Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media
Playing not only their largest headline gig in the UK to date and managing to pretty much sell out the one thousand capacity Electric Ballroom, it’s clear that Monster Truck are gaining something of a following here. Contrast this event to that at the smaller 350 capacity 100 Club less than 12 months ago and it’s easy to see how far the band, known for their fantastic heavy blues rock sound, have come in such a short space of time.
Before Monster Truck took to the stage, we were graced with The Picturebooks, their own brand of blues rock being the ideal opening act to the headliners.
For a duo, The Picturebooks pack an impressive punch. Reminding me initially of Royal Blood, they bring a huge amount of power, distortion and dirty blues groove to their music. It’s the sort of sound we’ve come to expect from younger upcoming British rock bands of late and to discover that the band are German came of something as a surprise as the sound isn’t something that you’d typically associate with the country known more commonly for anthemic, teutonic heavy metal.
Full of neat effects, the band initially got a stilted crowd response but it only lasted a couple of songs before the already sizeable audience warmed to them and began stomping along and cheering for them. Frontman Fynn Claus Grabke, a mass of sweat, hair and guitar gave it his all as did tub-thumper Philipp Mirtschink. The latter, I’m amazed that he managed to perform like this for every show on the tour as the beating his drum kit takes with almost every manner of stick, implement, utensil and more, is unprecedented. A good forty minutes of energetic blues fuelled rock in a style that sets the band far apart from their other countrymen and, to be honest, many other acts out there today.
Monster Truck’s heavy blues rock really came to the fore on ‘Sittin’ Heavy’, the outfit’s second release and first with Mascot Label Group. If you’ve yet to hear the album it’s simply stunning but when the band take to the stage to deliver the goods, live they are something else.
If this had been a single UK show, it would have been easy to see why people had made the effort to come from all over the country to see the band but the fact that this was part of a wider UK tour makes the capacity crowd at the Electric Ballroom all the more impressive. As ever, Monster Truck played without any pomp or circumstance and just got on with the show. It was a show that contained the perfect mix of music from their back catalogue with a leaning towards the latest and most widely recognised album. Given the show took in some 90 minutes, there weren’t many tracks that were cut so any fan would have gone home happy. ‘Furiosity’ their debut album got a good look in as did the odd track from previous ep’s, signed copies of which were available from the merch stand at a not at all extortionate price. Other bands could take note and learn from the mantra of ‘keeping the fans happy’.
Opening with ‘Why Are You Not Rocking?’ an ideal choice to kickstart the show, the crowd and the band decided early on that this was going to be a night to enjoy. Sing-alongs on tracks like ‘She’s A Witch’ and personal favourite ‘For The People’ really nailed home the quality of the tight four piece on stage.
Everyone appeared to be having a blast, Jon Harvey’s vocals and bass playing were delivered with ease as he spent the majority of the time looking happy and relaxed with a foot propped up on one of the monitors. Not surprisingly, given how tight the band sound in the studio, they easily blend together as one with Brandon Bliss’ keyboard work doing just enough to help the grotty rock sound fill the Electric Ballroom. Steve Kiely threatened to bring the walls down with his drumming and shirtless, half crazed whirlwind Jeremy Widerman managed to wring every ounce out of his guitar during the tightly packed set. As Harvey pointed out, there was no time for talk just great music.
An interesting highlight was a blistering rock cover of James Brown’s ‘I Got You (I Feel Good)’ which Harvey admitted was a first for them, attempting a cover song. First or not, it was a great choice and opened the encore perfectly.
For all those people who claimed to have been at the 100 Club last year (some 1,000 who claimed to have been in a 350 ish capacity venue) then at least you have the opportunity to say you were there this time and witness the ‘Truck in their true environment, live on stage. Fantastic.
Why Are You Not Rocking?
Don’t Tell Me How to Live
She’s a Witch
For the People
Worse / Better
For the Sun
Seven Seas Blues
Sweet Mountain River
I Got You (I Feel Good) – (James Brown cover)
Call It a Spade