Live Review : Monster Truck + Royal Tusk @ Academy 2, Manchester on April 20th 2019
It's Easter, it's a Saturday night and it's the hottest day of the year so far. The O2 Academy 2 is the venue for this evening's visit of Canadian rock Gods Monster Truck. The tour is currently rumbling around the UK in support of their 3rd album “True Rockers” released in September 2018. With their previous releases “Furiosity” and “Sittin’ Heavy” also gathering critical acclaim and having songs used as Ubisoft and EA game music scores, songs used on TV programmes and guest vocalists like Dee Snider on the new album, its set to be an interesting gig to say the least.
We start with the 4 piece and fellow Canadians Royal Tusk. Like a super heavy Nickelback, they go down extremely well, right from the start. Kicking off with ‘First Time’, a couple more quickly follow before we get ‘Reflection’ from their new album “Tusk II”. These boys are here to party and kick ass, and make some new friends in the process. They grew into the gig, clearly enjoying the connection with the audience. Vocalist Daniel Carriere interacts well and proved he could play a mean guitar as well as Quinn Cyrankiewicz too, with the guitarists swapping some lovely dual harmonies throughout. Their set is heavy yet melodic and the band are on fire. The next song was dedicated for the late Chris Cornell, with an awesome cover of Audioslave’s ‘Cochise’ which raised the roof and temperature even more! The set ends with the blistering ‘Aftermath’. If you like it heavy and melodic, these are definitely ones to watch out for.
The house lights go down a little after 9pm, and enter Monster Truck into the arena. By now there's around 600 ‘true rockers’ packed into the venue, and it promises to be a loud, heavy and sweaty one; and it is. Opening with ‘The Lion’, then ‘Don’t Tell Me How To Live’, these guys mean business right from the start. Singer and bassist Jon Harvey looks like some badass Hagrid, belting and bellowing out bass riffs and lyrics galore. The last time they played in Manchester, it was in the smaller Club Academy venue, and tonight is a testament to how much their popularity in the UK and overseas has grown since. Guitarist Jeremy Widerman is a man that also means business; stripped to the waist, long hair and beard dripping with sweat, he angrily brandishes his mustard coloured Gibson SG guitar like a Neanderthal holding a club. Fiercely pounding around the stage, releasing monster riff after monster riff, this dude is undoubtedly the heartbeat of the sound of the band. With some incredibly tight drumming from Steve Kiely underpinned by some wonderful Jon Lord-Esq. Hammond organ and keys from Brandon Bliss, every song becomes an anthemic chant-a-long for the audience to eagerly lap up. Fourth song in, they unleash ‘The Enforcer’ which is also the ice hockey theme song for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
These guys play some cracking heavy blues, tunes like ‘Evolution’, ‘Devil Don’t Care’, ‘True Rocker’, ‘Denim Danger’, ‘For The People’, the list goes on and on; every song is just a riff fest with superb vocals, no flashy solos, just pure hard hitting riffs, catchy choruses and chant-along-lyrics. An hour passes by in an instant, and before long, the gig’s nearly over until the band return to the stage and encore with the foot stompin’ ‘Why Are You Not Rocking?’ and ‘New Soul’. By the time those house lights came back up, there most probably wasn’t anybody left either dry nor disappointed with the evening’s entertainment.
Words by Phil Beswick
Photography by Johann Wierzbicki