Oh dang! Ya boy Tom finally pulled his finger out and wrote a review.
This past Tuesday (29th Jan), I attended Monster Magnet’s lone UK date of their ‘Mindf****r’ tour at London’s Electric Brixton, a gig that in many ways was 12 years in the making. Their 2007 album ‘4-Way Diablo’ was one of the first albums I ever owned myself, rather than stealing from my dad’s CD collection or a compilation of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 soundtrack. Now, you’d be forgiven in thinking the 13 tracks that comprise ‘4-Way Diablo’, and indeed the wider Monster Magnet discography, are nothing more than self indulgent, over the top and derivative; but it was (and still is) for these reasons that I fell completely in love with the band. Yes, their leather-clad, rockstar schtick might be passé, but it’s entirely self aware and serves as a love letter to a bygone era of the genre. I’d never consider myself a stick in the mud, and I genuinely believe we live in one of the most exciting periods for alternative music in a good long while, but at a time where there’s a few too many ‘Oli Sykes’ types dominating headlines, it can’t hurt to have a few Dave Wyndorfs.
Personal exposition aside, how did the New Jersey natives perform on a wintery Tuesday in Brixton?
Opening the evening’s proceedings was local rock trio Puppy, a band I’ve been vociferously singing the praises of for the past couple of years. If you haven’t heard of Puppy yet, the only way I can describe their sound is Wheatus tossed in a blender with Iron Maiden, with a garnish of satanism for good measure. Trust me, they’re THAT good. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your outlook), their intro music – the Terminator 2 main theme – fails to play, resulting in a hilarious acapella cover by vocalist/guitarist Jock Norton instead. Technical mishaps aside, the band crack on with a blistering set that encompasses their burgeoning, yet impressive back catalogue, including a couple of tracks from their brand new album ‘The Goat’, released the previous week. Tracks such as The Great Beyond and Black Hole sound particularly huge, evoking both voluntary and involuntary head banging.
Whilst there’s not quite the usual standard to banter with the audience (I once saw Jock offer free merch in return for a ham sandwich), we’re instead treated to a jam-packed 40 minute set that never lets up, and it’s clear as the band walk off stage that they’ve definitely left an impression on the hometown crowd. If you’ve slept on Puppy up until now, I strongly encourage you give them a listen asap. 8/10
After a brief intermission, the lights fade and the mighty Monster Magnet take to the stage, and boy, they didn’t disappoint. Dave Wyndorf and co. might be getting up a bit in age (Wyndorf himself nearly eligible to claim a UK state pension), but you’d never notice it as they jump straight into Dopes To Infinity, with the eccentric frontman matching the energy of the crowd from the first note to the last. In fact, I’m fairly sure he only unclenched his outstretched fist to occasionally strum his guitar, being the band’s third guitarist (whether his was actually plugged in is a matter I’m still trying to figure out). Not giving anyone a moment to breath, the band continue straight into Rocket Freak off their latest album, demonstrating that their new tracks shred just as hard as their singles from the 90s.
From that point on, their set continues at a frenetic pace, with the band’s light show often mesmerising as much as the songs themselves (I sure hope nobody suffered from epilepsy). From the psychedelic journey that is Ego, The Living Planet to the iconic Space Lord, it’s impossible not to have a massive, stupid grin on your face, experiencing one of the last true ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ bands. The band return for a 3 track encore that culminates with an impassioned rendition of Powertrip, before sending everyone off happy into the snowy capital. 9/10
Monster Magnet might be as subtle as a sledgehammer, but honestly, what did you expect from a band whose latest album is titled ‘Mindf****r’? In fact, what did you expect from a band called Monster Magnet? What they do might not be to everyone’s taste, but damn do they do it well.
By Tom Baker