Monster Truck + The Picturebooks
Wednesday 22nd March
The Electric Ballroom, Camden, London
Despite the cowardly attrocity in Westminster that afternoon, life in England's capital city, as it always does, carried on in the face of adversity, as Southern Hard Rock outfit Monster Truck did both London and Hamilton, Ontario proud at Camden's Electric Ballroom last Wednesday night. The Canadian rockers pulled up to finish off their UK leg of their European headlining tour, with excellent support from "in yer face" German two piece The Picturebooks. And we were lucky enough to interview Jon, Brandon and Jer backstage beforehand and also present them with their 2016 WRC Best Support Band award following their O2 Arena gig with Nickelback!
We counted down to Monster Truck's opener 'Why Are You Not Rocking?' - our answer to bare-chested lead guitarist Jer Widerman on our side of the stage was an emphatic "Yes we are" as this riff ridden nugget from 'Sittin' Heavy' did exactly what it said on that sign on that proverbial gold mine. 'Old Train' from their debut album 'Furiosity' kept Monster Truck moving nicely down the same track - those unfamiliar with this rocker comfortably singing along with the "woah woah woa" chorus. Bit of a surprise for mine to find the standout from 'SH' - and if not one of the best tracks from last year - 'Don't Tell Me How To Live' so early in the setlist. With both its growling vocal from bass guitarist Jon Harvey and a Heavy Rock riff to die for, the swagger of Widerman's mid-section guitar solo is so reminiscent of Perry in 'Walk This Way' and I just never get tired of listening to or watching the video to this Rock monster. 'The Enforcer' from 'SH' was the very first Monster Truck tune I ever heard - no "free beers" tonight unfortunately - but its distinctive pounding opening drumbeat from Steve Kiely got our hands clapping in the air with even more "woah woah woa's" as the truck took off once again at breakneck speed. "Alright, I Want To See You Moving" shouted Harvey and we all obliged as Widerman's guitar opened with the distinctive riff of 'She's A Witch' - cue a bit of head banging with cries of "That Girls Got A Demon In Her Soul" thrown in for good measure.
It was then time for a walk in the 'Black Forest' - evidence of Monster Truck's undoubted musical breadth - Blues Rock at its best - smacking of Bonamassa's 'Sloe Gin' even down to its opening/closing cool keys from the appropriately named Brandon Bliss and its awesome climactic guitar solo courtesy of the energetic Widerman. Indeed the breadth of MT's music, as showcased in 'Sittin' Heavy' was indicative of why the Electric Ballroom mosh pit never got really going on the evening, further evidenced, once Harvey returned, on 'For The People' with its Country feel. "Are You Having A Good Time?" enquired Harvey as 'Things Get Better' with this rockin' belter and more audience participation "I Got A Feelin' Things'll Get Worse Before They Get Better". The delicious Blues fusion of Bliss's keys and Widerman's guitar on 'For The Sun' - not only re-empahasised the fact that these guys are not just one trick gold mine ponies but Harvey's vocal really nailed the guts of this Blues track from 'Furiosity' before it dissolved into the heavier Blues Rock of 'Seven Seas Blues'.
"Alright" said Harvey before Monster Truck navigated their way back on to the Heavy Rock highway with 'Sweet Mountain River' - with now a semblance of a mosh pit in the offing as the crowd sang along: "I Haven't Felt Home In This City For So Long" before they wrapped up the set with Widerman still marching energetically around the stage and another rocker from 'SH' - 'New Soul'. It was now time for something completely different as the band returned for their well deserved encore - firstly a cover of James Brown's classic R&B number 'I Feel Good' - as I said, I wouldn't put anything past these guys - but must admit doing a double-take before I recognised this great truckin' version. Their oldest track on the night 'Righteous Smoke' from their 'Brown' EP was sandwiched in between two final tracks from 'Furiosity'. 'Righteous Smoke' still rocks out with the best of their current batch and gave us a clue as to where those ""woah woah woa" choruses were born and bred, whilst the 'Spirit In The Sky' riff of our latter day Canadian Angus on 'Call It A Spade' and, ultimately the driving riff of 'The Lion', saw the emergence finally of a well deserved mosh pit. No new material as the guys promised beforehand, but with just two albums under their belts, they proved to this sold out venue that they are are not only 'Sittin' Heavy' but they are a force to be reckoned with. Make sure you catch Monster Truck when they park up at Ramblin' Man in July following both their headline tour and supporting Deep Purple across Europe.