Monster Magnet : Live in Wolverhampton

MM 03We’re not the romantic types here at So when Monster Magnet announced a couple of dates over here as part of their latest European tour, we jumped at the chance, even if it is Valentine’s Day. We’ve got our priorities sorted…

Dave Wyndorf and his band of space rockers are no strangers to UK shores. They’ve been over here on a yearly basis of late, usually playing one of their many classic albums in full. After last year’s awesome ‘Last Patrol’ album however it seems we are due a bona fide current album tour; and that’s what we get tonight.

Along for the ride are Tokyo’s serial killer-obsessed Church Of Misery. Bringing the doom and by far the heaviest band on tonight’s bill, they do their best to scare away those girlfriends in the crowd that have been dragged along in the name of romance.

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They don’t look like a scary bunch. Flares are compulsory and they generally dress in casual wear as though they were just about to pop down to the shops. The colossal barrage of sound that comes our way courtesy of the slight figures on stage is something else. Huge doom-laden riffs with a touch of psychedelia thanks to Hideki’s occasional nob twiddling on the synthesiser.

It’s a streamlined and efficient performance. A lot of their recorded material relies on lengthy sound bites to set the scene of their song subject matter. There’s little of that tonight though. Church Of Misery blast through their arsenal of songs that mix up Iommi derived riffs and the fuzz of the likes of Fu Manchu.

By the time Monster Magnet arrive onstage, The Wulfrun has filled up to healthy crowd status. It was always going to be a tough task getting everyone out on Valentine’s Day but the beards and old cracked leathers are out in force to welcome back the stoner legends.

In keeping with ‘Last Patrol’ much of the main set is subdued and consists exclusively of cuts from the latest album. The opening of trio of ‘I Live Behind The Clouds’, ‘Last Patrol’ and ‘Three Kingfishers’ are about as unrushed as a rock show gets. Dave tries to get everyone to be quiet between the verses of ‘Three Kingfishers’. It might work on the continent but with a 2-pint cup fuelled Wolverhampton crowd on a Friday night…well you can imagine it’s a little more difficult. He has a little rant in a ‘Made in Chelsea’ style accent obviously unaware what a 100 mile overnight trip can do to a local dialect in England.

‘Paradise’ continues the trend of the easy going night until the groove of ‘Hallelujah’ leads into the stomp of ‘Mindless Ones’. The crowd finally get a chance to let their hair down and don’t waste any time in getting the place jumping.

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The ‘Last Patrol’ material keeps on coming. The swirling lights, Dave’s back-to-the-crowd style while he works the synth coupled with the general lullaby material makes it a dreamy experience. Phil takes every opportunity to pull the guitar hero poses when the music allows but overall it’s a mellow old evening.

Of course, when the band say goodnight and leave the stage after the aptly titled ‘Stay Tuned’ you have a feeling that they will come back all guns blazing. After a short wait this is confirmed by the announcement that “It’s time to rock”.

‘Twin Earth’, ‘Orb’ and ‘Dopes To Infinity’ all take us back a couple of decades, the crowd and band both get an opportunity to cut loose and bang some heads. An extended version of ‘Space Lord’ brings down the curtain on the night and as the clouds of smoke start to billow from the crowd Dave promises “We’ll be back!”