Review & Photography by Manny Manson for MPM
This is a band I’m always eager to go see since I first saw them support Nickelback back in 2016. They stormed on stage like a Tsunami and completely rocked the opening set.
To be fair, for me, they stole the show. High energy rock n roll and songs full of blues fuzz distortion that just resonated, I loved them from the get go.
Now in 2022 I have seen them a few more times each show being better than the last, oh maybe apart from the Rescue Rooms show in April 2017, it seemed that Jeremy was a bit pre occupied with his amp and his usual high-octane performance was a little shall we say flat. I remember the night well as I was the only tog in the pit, which by the Rescue Rooms standards was massive.
July that same year I saw them up a mountain in Wales in the rain. I’m pleased to say Jeremy was back firing on all cylinders, the band smashed it as the weather turned and it rained while topless Jeremy was hooning around. A stunning set once again.
I missed the 2018 triple header tour with Black Stone Cherry and The Cadillac Three due to having to be elsewhere that December. Gutted wasn’t the word. I then picked the band up in a small venue in Leicester called the Cookie. Down in its basement it was a close intermit gig, in fact apart from sharing the toilet with Jon Harvey, we never actually saw the band play. The roof was that low it was like being in an old tube station corridor. The place absolutely rocked mind, the fans in knew the score and were true Truck fans.
Tonight, these boys from Hamilton, Ontario are set to give KK’s a new one. With a cracking new album released today they now have four studio albums under their belt since starting out in 2009. Furiosity in 2013, Sittin’ Heavy in 2015, True Rockers in 2018 and now Warriors.
They have supported John Garcia’s Vista Chino and Alice In Chains, Slash, Nickelback, have won a Juno award for breakthrough band of the year played the Download Festival on more than one occasion and even had their songs featured in a couple of EA Sports NHL video games. In fact, the song ‘The Enforcer’ is used by the Toronto Maple Leafs after every goal with the addition of the “go Leafs go” chant added to the song.
Before we get to hear the ‘Truck’ we have a little something special on first. The darlings of South Wales and one of the hardest working bands on the circuit, Those Damn Crows. A full summer festival season behind them the band are back on the road much to their fans delight. Shane and the boys deserve the rewards as they continue to deliver stellar shows where ever they appear.
Formed in Bridgend, Wales in 2014 their brand of hard rock quickly struck a chord and a loyal following quickly ensued. In 2017, Planet Rock declared them as a band to watch, and in 2018 Metal Hammer heralded them as ‘Band of the Week’. They signed a multi-album deal with Nottingham based Earache records and released their debut album ‘Murder and Motive’ in the October of the same year, 2018. An earlier self-funded release of the album from 2016 is a gem that is heavily sought after by the fans, it includes several different tracks.
On the back of their hard work the band went onto play at the both Download and Planet Rocks, Winters End festivals in 2019.
February 2020 a second album was released ‘Point of no Return’ this went down a storm with the fans who were now eager for new songs from the band.
They went on to play Download main stage in 2022. A new album entitled ‘Inhale/Exhale’ is scheduled for release in February 2023. The single ‘Wake Me’ from the new album made an appearance in the bands set list when they played Chepstow Castle on August 11th. Tonight, will be interesting to see which other, if any new songs get an airing.
Hitting the main stage on time the band set up while the crow appears to watch from the back screen, its beady eye is on us all. Shane walks on to the stage his arms out and the noise level goes off the scale.
Opening with ‘Who Did It’ the lazy beat thunders out as they settle in. Ronnie is smiling hard as, animated, he hits the snare, hard. Shane is on point; he’s playing to the crowd already. The band are tight as the crowd join in with the singing much to the bands delight.
Long Time Dead’ continues with a faster pacier drum riff, Lloyd and Dave are at the mics giving it the BV’s, whilst Shiner in Shades and bike leather is stood alone on the other side of the stage like a naughty school boy. The almost blast beats in the middle propel this crowd pleaser to a huge finish the crowd enjoyed that one!
‘Don’t give a Damn’ has the Shane that everyone loves he’s off and running. Well known for his climbing antics he’s a bit restricted here so during this one he makes the first of several visits to the security barrier, almost falling into the crowd as he reaches in. This is what the crowd want.
The song is a banger and drives on as Shane races about, despite having put a bit of timber on , listen to his Crow cast with Jon Harvey, he’s light on his toes.
‘Send the Reaper’ is up next the bouncing tune has the crowd bouncing, to be fair they haven’t stopped all night. There’s a good crowd in tonight so despite the miserable weather outside its hot in hear. The lighting is great as David and Lloyd are rocking out hard on-stage right, Shiner is belting it out. Shane brings it all back down and the crowd love it, they can do no wrong tonight.
Stopping to get a drink, Shane goes on to tell the fans that they’ve been working on a new record, it’s out in Feb 2023, it’s fucking awesome it, he tells us, he teases and says let’s hear one from the new album, entitled Inhale/Exhale it’s called ‘Wake up’.
Not a completely new song to the set as it has featured earlier in the year and was released as the single to the album, its video being on YouTube. Ronnie’s crushing drum beat wakes everyone up, not that they were sleeping, white spots caress the stage as Shane and the boys serenade the fans with this belter of a tune, looking around the Damn Crows tee shirts are dancing like a murder of crows in a field eating seed.
‘Blink of an Eye’ takes us back to the debut album, Murder and The Motive, a copy of the earlier 2016’s, self-released version is exchanging for big money, you try and get a copy of it. But before that kicks off a fan shouts out “you killed Download” Shane quickly replies “Thanks Brother” he’s on the barrier again. ”who was at down load” at least half the room thrust their hands skyward in response. ”we played the fucking main stage, how mad is that? It about the size of KK’s” the crowd cheer as the song strikes up, the fans still have their hands up clapping as we rock out.
“It was Shiners birthday yesterday, I fucking love that boy” shouts Shane as we move in to ‘Sin on Skin’ from ‘Point of No Return’. This has been a master class in how to be a frontman and how to be a good support band. Fans have travel from far and wide to see them tonight and they are disappointing. ‘Go get It’ follows on from the same album. The crowd are still on their toes as Shane, powered by who knows what is still racing around.
He gets the crowd to count in this heavy hitter, we have a coupler of trial runs and then as the roof comes off with the third attempt, he leaps off the riser he’s been crouched on and we’re away, a crushing wall of sound envelopes the venue. Shane is on it as he points around the room, the faithful being picked out.
This anthemic banger has the crowd cheering as Ronnie gives his kick a sound beating, a stunning penultimate track. That being the rocking ‘Rock and Roll Ain’t Dead’. “ do you love rock n roll” shouts Shane, he gets the crowd to sing the whoah whoa whoa, the crowd have been there before and are on it, Shanes smile says it all as he screams “everybody” and we sing back as one voice. The sweat is pouring from him as he patrols the stage like a hunting U-Boat in the Channel.
Ronnie’s drums thunder out as Shane is again on the barrier chanting back and forth with the crowd before Dave, his white Les Paul takes the song forward with a growling riff. Shane carries on with the call and answer with the crowd bringing the song to an end he thanks the crowd for turning up the boys riff out the end of the song as Shane gets the crowd to sing out “We Are Those Damn Crows”. What a bloody set! Simple as! We loved that wow!
The Usual stage swap over happens as folk run off to get a wet, it’s been a warm one. I bump into my mate the awesome Pete Kermally on my way to the bar, a fellow Monster Truck fan, he’s here early for the weekender N.W.O.C.R. that KK’s is hosting over the weekend. It’s great to see this man, If I could have a big brother, he’d be my first choice, a lovely man. If you get the chance get along to a venue where he’s appearing, his energy is through the roof, he’s a great comedian and compere.
The intro tape starts and the band walk out onto a stage bathed in blue light. The cheers are palpable as big smiling Jon Harvey grins from behind his hair as he stand like a statue behind his microphone. Jeremy, his yellow SG hanging from his shirtless top, is screaming at the crowd already, he’s had a shearing since the last time I saw him back in 2019, he now sports a trendy hipster style headpiece.
Kicking the set off with ‘Don’t Tell Me How to Live’, I’m a happy man, this is a stunning ballsy track that kicks you in the face from the get go, and one of my favourites from the Sophomore album ‘Sittin Heavy’. We get the anthemic chanter from ‘Old Train’ from the first album next, another thunderous track has Jeremy swapping sides, he’s like a Duracell bunny, like Shane he’s trying to reach all parts of the crowd who are bouncing to this thumping number.
She’s a Witch’ is up third. A fast paced grinder, but then aren’t all Monster Truck tunes, it’s number about a girl with a demon in her eye. The guitar is fat with distortion as it smacks you full on. The bass is gut wrenching as this one bounces along. The venue is still packed out so it’s great to see that the Those Damn Crows faithful are stopping around to catch these Canadian Monsters.
The relentless driving wall of sound continues with the only tune to feature from the third album True Rocker’s, an experimental album where the band tried different things including a cameo from the great Dee Snider on the title track. It’s not a bad album by any stretch just, shall we say different, oh yeah, the song is ‘Denim Danger’ the solo break down is tasty and has the whoah’s filling the backing ground along with the anthemic sing a long “this is our town”. A worthy addition to the set although I would love to see ‘Thunder truck’ played live.
‘Golden Woman’ is the first to get an airing from the new album, this was released today, the day of the of the KK’s gig. It’s an absolute belter of a track. We now have the ‘Truck’ firing on all cylinders. The percussive beats from new drummer, Theo McKibben are breath taking, animated like animal from the muppets he’s given this one a new one! The vocals are coming at you hard and fast, Jon is smiling as he destroys this one, brilliant as Jon screams out the finish of the song.
The punishment continues with ‘The Enforcer’ from Sittin’ Heavy. A song full of angst as it thunders away, wooooah woah owah chants fil this one and the crowd are happy to help out at this powers along like a run away express train.
John shouts out “how about Those Damn Crows” which gets a huge cheer from the congregation in tonight.
The piano chimes up as Brandon, now side on, tickles the ivories to the stunning ‘Black Forest’, again from Sitting Heavy. The piano sound has a Bob Fridzema feel to it, and a delivery not un similar to Alan Nemo of KING KING. The guitar is relaxed and full of bluesy loveliness, the notes dripping off Jeremys fingers as the song builds to a keyboard finish, beautiful and one of my stand out songs of the set.
We get a treat now as we’re treated to a run of songs from the new album. The awesome ‘Fuzz Mountain’ is up next about finding somewhere you can be alone and just play guitar and enjoy. The guitar is ridiculous in this one, the stage lights are dancing all over the stage as Jeremy’s compressed guitar sound howls out. Theo is steamrollering a steady beat from behind the kit as, Brandon’s keys are woven deep within the textured layers of this one as it plays out.
“Shall we keep going with new songs” shouts Jon, “This ones called Live Free” and again the hard-hitting drums kick in, to be fair I don’t think they’ve paused between the songs played so far. The guitar slots in and chugg’s along, Jon’s huge bass sound is rattling the fillings in my head as he rocks out, a slick solo breaks the onslaught but its soon back as Jon’s voice is immense as he cries out the close of the song. ‘Country Livin’ is up next, a departure from the usual hard-hitting sounds, it is a country song worthy of any of the old guard in Southern rock.
It’s a great song full of Allman Brothers, The Marshall Tucker band type vibes. A solid track full of slide guitar and whiskey drinking, it wouldn’t be out of place at a Nashville hoe down, which closes off the run of new songs for the moment.
We get a quick journey back to the more laid-back vibe of the first album, Furiosity, the meaty ‘For the Sun’. Jon introduces it by saying “ we’re going to play you a blues song”. The sleazy blues riff spills from Jeremy’s fingers as Jon laments gently. How good is this song? Its full of restraint and purpose as its treated with respect, this song means a lot to the band as, with sweat running down his face Jon smiles as he delivers.
The high paced antics of Jeremy are leashed as he noodles a sublime lick the smoke dancing in the spotlights as he does so. The keys swirl along wrapping around the solid bass line as Theo tickles the kit in comparison to how he’s been pulverising it earlier. Another stand out track delivered and received with respect this one is a proper goose bumper! I love this one as do the crowd judging by the huge cheers as it dies with a swirling keyboard finish.
“Let me tell you a little story” harks Jon as a Reverend Billy Gibbons type riff rattles out as we go into another fresh tune, ‘Get My Things and Go’ those fans amongst us will have seen the video released played by children wearing false beards, it gives a kids eye view of a serious relationship issue. Jon ventures stage left and lets loose with his hair, swinging his curly locks around, smiling, no doubt covering the from row in sweat, he’s rocking out hard and fast as Jeremy kills another, solid solo.
Jon’s back on the mic once again, asking “Are you still with us?” “ do you feel good” the crowd as one, responds with a hell yeah and Jon’s back “that’s good enough for me, this song is called New Soul” and a belter it is from ‘Sittin Heavy’. Jeremys vibrato on the riffs is Kossoff like in its ferocity a stunning display as this one bangs along at a high pace. Jeremy screams to the crowd and instigates a round of heavy clapping from the crowd. The man is relentless as he continues to fly around the stage. The thundering drums and bassline are relentless in their attempt to knock down walls. A great track which finishes in cheers from the crowd.
“We got two more, this is the first off the new record” screams Jon, ‘Warriors’ an anthemic masterpiece which has the crowd joining in from the get go, they’ve done their homework. The thundering beat continues as Jon sings about fighting in the trenches then the crowd join in with the anthemic singalong “All for one and One for all” as Jon screams it at us. Solid and brutal, the song breaks down like a truck on fire, the scorching solo tries to rip your face off as it screams over an assault of crushing bass and drums. If you’ve seen the video you know there is a nod to the Ultimate Warrior and several WWE wrestlers, it’s a fun Video.
Jeremy screams into his mic, “one more song”. Jon thanks us for all coming out and supporting the band, he says “get home safe, and be kind to others” as the band starts, Jon quickly adds “let’s see if you know this one”! The familiar riff of ‘Sweet Mountain River’ hits us squarely in the jaw. Another banger from the first album, a fitting end to the set and it rocks.
Fire columns light the venue as they stream from the stage front, and no doubt scorches the eyebrows of the those on the barrier. The fire continues through the track as we get called on to join in the singing. The song finishes and we get hands and guitar in the air. The boys quickly leave to cheers and whistles. This is old school, of late we haven’t had bands leave the stage before playing the encore. The energy that they deliver with I can’t fault them leaving for a quick wipe down.
The usual chanting, cheering and whistling commences and before too long Theo is back behind the kit pounding out a rebellious beat. The band, are now back on stage. Jon says “ how about that Theo McKibben on drums”, to a huge roar from the crowd. The band then drop into the thundering sing a long ‘Why Are You Not Rocking’, again another from ‘Sittin Heavy’ album. The crowd are on their toes as Jeremy, once again, flies around the stage, we join in with the singing as the songs gets brought down.
Jon screams out “One More’, “this song is about never giving up” as flames scorch the front row, we get the obvious set closer ‘The Lion’. Spotlights swirl around like police searchlights as the song grinds out.
The crowd are clapping along as Jeremy slams out a fuzz filled solo. Jon Cries out again “ what about those damn crows, tell your friends this is a tour not to be missed, we’re just getting started” and the flames and solid onslaught continue.
The song is finally brought down with a hurricane of noise. The crowd erupt, huge cheers and claps engulf the venue as the band leave the stage Jon stops and says “thank you very much, we appreciate you from the bottom of our hearts we’ll see you again” and leaves the stage while the clapping continues. The outro tape chimes in and the lights come on. Wowzers that was something a bit special. We’ve been treated a Monster Truck Greatest Hits set. That needs to put out there as either a live show, DVD of at the least a compilation, what a set.
Monster Truck have smashed it yet again, that was a masterclass in Rock n Roll Canadian style. Hard Fast and in your face. If you haven’t caught the ‘Truck’ yet, do yourself a favour get to a show near you as soon as possible preferabley on this tour and be prepared for an onslaught of titanic riffs and thundering bass, at this rate they’ll be filling arenas!