Review: Monster Truck/Those Damn Crows – The Garage, Glasgow

Once upon a time, before the advent of electronic bank transfers, you normally got paid your wages at 5 pm every Friday. Something magical about queuing up with your mates and waiting on the boss to come out of the office with a handful of small manila envelopes and hand them out. The talk was about what pub it was going to be straight afterward, and figuring out how much you could spend and still stretch the contents of the envelope out for the following week. Good times full of camaraderie and banter where the anticipation built up with every tick of the clock as it agonisingly seemed to go back in time as it counted down until the hooter went off and the holy grail awaited: the weekend. Certain bands can conjure up similar feelings of the elation of that hooter going off; acts like AC/DC, Status Quo, Slade, and similar bands who didn’t faff around in getting to the money shot. Bands who kept it simple and knew what their audiences wanted: to block out the outside noise and kick up some dust at the same time. And keeping that mantra alive in 2022 – bands like Monster Truck.

With a name like Monster Truck, it’s hardly going to be subtle, is it? It’s going to be big and bold, and brash as fuck. Want subtlety or intricate musical patterns, keep walking until you get to the corner of Biffy Clyro and Dream Theatre. Want to scream yourself hoarse with one humongous Woah-Woah after another, while your calves take a battering from jumping up and down so much; then Monster Truck are the band for you and every gig is Friday night at 5 pm and the hooter is about to go off.

Joining the likeable Canadians on the 12-date jaunt around the UK, and arguably the hottest up-and-coming property on the UK rock scene today – Welsh wizards Those Damn Crows. Proving to be a savvy move by adding them to the bill (and making it an incredible value-for-money ticket), Those Damn Crows take to the stage like local heroes returning home after conquering all before them. And if anyone is encountering the Crows for the first time then vocalist Shane Greenhall makes sure that they know the name by declaring during the intro of opening track ‘Who Did It’ – “We’re. Those. Damn. Crows.”, only it is the audience that takes over and bellows out the last part. Incredibly confident (without a touch of arrogance), the Bridgend-five piece know that they are onto something, and have tapped into a gap in the market for catchy, feel-good arena anthems-in-the-making that also pack an almighty wallop. Try on ‘Don’t Give A Damn’ for size and with the live sound of guitarists Shiner, and David Winchurch ramped up a notch or two the sound is bloody massive. Shame though about the lights being darker-than-dark though and not stretching to either side of the stage as Shiner has an incredible range of facial expressions, and Winchurch has stepped into the void left by Jason Momoa shaving off his famous locks. Shame.

With a new album (‘Inhale/Exhale’) set to land in 2023, the next twelve months are crucial for Those Damn Crows, and if new track ‘Wake Up (Sleepwalker)’ is anything to go by, then they have a monster on their hands. In the live setting, this is rawer and less polished than the studio version, and before long, heads are bopping back and forth in time to the formidable work of the backbone of the band: drummer Ronnie Huxford, and bassist Lloyd Wood. ‘Blink Of An Eye’ is the jewel in the TDC crown and introduced by Greenhall with “A Crows classic if you will…” before quipping “…two fucking albums…a Crows classic….”, there are moments where the wall-of-sound emitting from the stage borders on Springsteen territory, which in turns means a Phil Spector influence since Springsteen used Spector as a starting point on the ‘Born To Run’ album. No? Then check out the intro, and Huxford’s drum sound during the bridge into the larger-than-life chorus – that’s classic E-Street band. Those Damn Crows need a support slot on an arena tour by a band like Def Leppard, or Shinedown even, especially if ‘Wake Up (Sleepwalker)’ is anything to go by. They also need to start making inroads into the lucrative German market, as well as dipping their toes across the pond in the US, because with those massive hooks (and those accents) the Americans will lap these guys up. 2023 belongs to Those. Damn. Crows.

Oh, Marv how we have missed you. Sure, the full name might be Jon “Marv” Harvey, but to everyone shoehorned in together in front of the stage, the affable Monster Truck frontman and vocalist/bassist will always be “Marv”. The kind of guy who will come to your rescue at two AM, and not mind if you puke in his truck (monster, naturally). Phineas T. Phreak of The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers – Canadian style. And what a fearsome roar he has. Feel the wind in your hair as he bellows out “GLASGOWWWWWWWWWW” when the stage lights rise on the intro to opening track ‘Sweet Mountain River’, and how can you not dig someone who for an on-stage footrest uses a toolbox with a sticker that warns “Don’t Fuck With The Truck”. The newly-shorn guitarist Jeremy Widerman is as livewire as ever, and he can expect a call from Canadian PM Justin Trudeau any day now to solve the energy crisis by bottling Widerman’s non-stop buzz. He also acts as a cheerleader on ‘Old Train’, the first of many Monster Truck bangers that come fully loaded with lashings of Woah-Woah’s. That rasping feeling in the back of your throat after a Monster Truck gig – blame it on the Woah-Woahs – especially on the utterly bonkers ‘Denim Danger’ which is fuelled by copious amounts of keyboards from Brandon Bliss.

Write off Monster Truck as one-trick ponies at your peril. Sure, there is a meat and two veg simpleness to their music, but they also pack in a great deal of variety to the set; ‘Black Forest’ is softer and features shades of Deep Purple-meets-Skynyrd; ‘Fuzz Mountain’ begins with a ZZ Top-like swagger but settles into the best song that Dan Auerbach never wrote (what an infectious keyboard sound from Bliss); new song ‘Live Free’ (complete with “fuck yeah” audience participation) is heavier and comes down the hill like a truck with its brakes out; another new one – ‘Country Livin” is a perfect homage to Allman Brothers Country Rock with vocal harmonies to die for; while ‘For The Sun’ is a perfect blues-jam, and ‘Why Are You Not Rocking?’ is a full-pelt balls-to-the-wall rocker that has Widerman unleashing his inner Angus Young. And as the lyrics suggest…“Rock and roll might save your life…It might save your life tonight…”.

Remaining October tour dates:

London Shepherds Bush Empire – Tue 11th

Brighton Concorde 2 – Wed 12th

Cardiff Great Hall – Sat 15th

Sheffield Corporation – Sun 16th

Nottingham Rock City – Mon 17th

Tickets available here

Review – Dave

Photo credits – Dave Jamieson

 

 

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