MONSTER TRUCK / ROYAL TUSK - O2 Academy, Bristol 18.04.19
Canadian powerhouse four-piece MONSTER TRUCK return to the UK before heading off into Europe on their ‘True Rockers’ tour, and the O2 Academy in Bristol is the very first stop for the hard rock heavyweights. Accompanying MONSTER TRUCK on this leg of the tour is fellow Canadian rock band ROYAL TUSK.
On the O2 stage, a bright yellow backdrop with ‘ROYAL TUSK’ emblazoned in red awaits the band of the same name. The stage is utterly bare at the front, there are no wedge monitors, it’s been some time since I’ve seen that. The Academy is getting to around the half full mark as the lights dim, the theme tune from ‘A Clockwork Orange’ serving as the band’s intro.
The four-piece take their places at the front of the stage and begin their polished set with ‘First Time’ and ‘Freedom’, from third album ‘Tusk II (2018). The sound is slick and the performance energetic, with driving, chuggy bass from Sandy MacKinnon and galloping drums from Calen Stuckel. This killer combo gets the crowd clapping, and makes a dynamic sound when combined with the strong, powerful vocals of Daniel Carriere. When guitarist Quinn Cyrankiewicz’s backing vocals join in, great melodic vocal harmonies ensue.
The set continues with ‘Reflection’, ‘Stowaway’ and ‘Die Knowing’ (from ‘Tusk II’), and Cyrankiewicz and Carriere are engaging to watch as they perform skilled dual guitar solos, cracking riffs, and licks aplenty! MacKinnon makes great use of the available space and Stuckel has a fairly flamboyant drumming style which is interesting to watch as he pummels his kit. More people are coming in as the set continues and the venue is three-quarters full by the time the band dedicate their cover of AUDIOSLAVE’s ‘Cochise’ to Chris Cornell, before ROYAL TUSK end their set with ‘Aftermath’, from ‘Tusk II’.
This band sound better live than on the recorded material I have heard, and their performance is energetic, polished and cohesive. Much of the set comes from the band’s third album ‘Tusk II’ (2018), this being the first time the band have toured this album in the UK. They’re a band well worth checking out if you get the chance.
Daniel Carriere - vocals/guitar
Quinn Cyrankiewicz - guitar
Sandy MacKinnon - bass
Calen Stuckel - drums
A deep rumbling that resonates in my chest heralds the imminent arrival of MONSTER TRUCK onto the stage, their trademark black and white backdrop in place, and without ceremony the hard hitters launch into a blistering rendition of ‘The Lion’ (from ‘Furiosity’, 2013). Resting his foot atop a tool box, vocalist/bassist Jon ‘Marv’ Harvey looks perfectly at ease as he addresses the crowd, “We’re gonna have a good time tonight; I hope you’re ready to rock and roll!”. Hell Yeah! As the opening bars of ‘Don’t Tell Me How To Live’ (from ‘Sittin’ Heavy’, 2016) start, the place erupts; this crowd do not need telling twice! They are singing along as loud as they can and punching the air!
The set continues with ‘Devil Don’t Care’, (from new album ‘True Rockers’), and ‘Enforcer’ (from ‘Sittin’ Heavy’). Harvey commands the audience in an understated way, with no need for gimmicks, fancy costumes, or props, his laid back manner but ballsy bass and face-melting vocals guaranteeing attention. Drummer Steve Kiely drives the thrashing rhythm in a neat but bracing style, a suspended microphone aiding his backing vocal delivery on ‘Evolution’ (from ‘True Rockers’), which also sees guitarist Jeremy Widerman and Brandon Bliss (keys) joining in on the vocals, making for a really special blended effect.
Bliss is such a whizz on the keys, that when there’s a power issue with one of the keyboards, such is his skill with the other, I doubt many people even notice.
Widerman’s a master at making the complex riffs he’s pulling off look utterly effortless, and the crowd are simply loving the atmosphere, chanting “Don’t fuck with the truck!” at regular intervals throughout the set, breaking into spontaneous clapping without prompting and singing along at the tops of their voices; it’s brilliant. A mini mosh pit even breaks out for all of about three minutes. ‘Righteous Smoke’ (from ‘The Brown EP’), ‘She’s a Witch’ (from ‘Sittin Heavy’) and “the closest we ever got to fuckin’ country” ‘For the People’ (from Sittin Heavy), plus the awesomely uplifting titular track of latest album, ‘True Rockers’, which is a foot-stomping, fist-pumping anthemic tune, are highlights. The roof-lifting encores are ‘Why are you not Rocking’ and ‘New Soul’, from ‘Sittin Heavy’. What an awesome opening night. This crowd have spoken. Don’t fuck with the truck!
Jon ‘Marv’ Harvey - vocals/bass
Jeremy Widerman - guitar
Brandon Bliss - keys
Steve Kiely - drums
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