Gig review: MONSTER TRUCK – O2 Academy, Islington, London, 7 November 2014

Band names are a funny thing these days. From sublime classics such as Iron Maiden and Cradle of Filth to the utterly ridiculous like W**k for Peace – you’re never quite sure what to expect. Thank God then for Monster Truck.

With a big, bruising, unforgiving band name and a thunderous sound to match, the band showed just why they’re destined for big things last Friday night at the O2 Academy in Islington, London.

Canada may not seem like the most obvious place to find a group steeped in Southern-style hard rock but this four-piece Rock n Roll machine from Hamilton, Ontario do exactly what they say on the tin!

Sweet, harmonic choruses are off-set by big riffs and catchy hooks – all at an unrelenting pace. Even the most conservative gig-goer ends up giving in, swigging beer and head-banging to the power of Rock n Roll!

Having seen them enter the stage at Islington on Friday, you’d think they’d stepped straight out of a time machine from 1975. With his long flowing locks, lead singer (and bassist) Jon Harvey somehow produces an incredible voice. One of those that simply makes you stop what you’re doing and ask the person next to you “who the hell is this guy?!”

His guitar wielding partner-in-crime Jeremy Widerman stomps around on stage in his sleeveless denim jacket owning the place. Steve Kiely drives the band with his ferocious drumming whilst organist Brandon Bliss completes the recipe.

The ingredients for success may all be there but pulling it off is quite another thing. From the opening track and recent single ‘The Lion’ – you quickly realise this is no ordinary band.

It’s no wonder they made such a big impression at Download Festival back in 2013. There’s no over indulgent solos – just pure, unadulterated, filthy rock n roll. “We’ve trimmed the fat and kept the meat” said Harvey in a recent interview. He wasn’t wrong.

‘Power For The People’ is a nod to Rage Against The Machine with riffs reminiscent of a certain Tom Morello and one of my many personal favourites on the night.

‘Old Train’, the first track from their debut album ‘Furiosity’ brings the crowd to a crescendo after Widerman orchestrates them with “Woah Ohh Ohhh’s”.

Harvey belts out the catchy lyrics: “I hear my train down the tracks/my heart is beating like an engine/the summer air fills my lungs /I’m moving on baby I may never come back.”

The entire set list plays like a truck driver’s dream. Fast, groovy, unrelenting and yet somehow soothing to the soul.

‘Sweet Mountain River’, perhaps the best known track, is saved for last and leaves the crowd thirsty for more.

Earlier in the night, The Graveltones took the stage to a great reaction. The two-piece band have been touring extensively in the past 18 months, having supported the likes of The Dead Daisies as well as headline shows of their own.

They have a great sound and are extremely well received by the knowledgeable crowd.

With the likes of Jack White headlining the O2 Arena and Royal Blood also making waves in the mainstream – there’s a lot of potential and talent still waiting to be exploited here. With one album, ‘Don’t Wait Down’ already in the bag, their next album could make them ones to watch for future.

As for our headliners Monster Truck, everything I look for in a rock and roll band is right there. The last time I said that was in 2007 when I saw some band called Black Stone Cherry play a student union in London. They headlined Wembley Arena the other week so haven’t done too badly!

“Don’t F**k With The Truck” is the tag-line for the band. On this evidence, no one would even dare to.

Review by Vikram Sangar (@vsangar)

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Power Plays w/c 2 September (Mon-Fri)

BAD WOLVES Killing Me Slowly (Eleven Seven Music)
DEEP DEEP WATER Something In The Water (indie)
MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST Sleeping With The Light On (Nuclear Blast)
GHOSTS OF MEN Crooked Back (Regent Street Records)
ANNIE HASLAM Blood And Water (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 2 September (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 MICK DEVINE Here Now (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 MOB RULES Beast Over Europe (SPV)
14:00-16:00 THE PORTRAITS For Our Times (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

STACKRIDGE A Victory For Common Sense (2009)

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