Review by Peter Keevil. Pics by Tony Gaskin
Both Classic Rock magazine AND Metal Hammer magazine got behind this co-headline tour, aptly named, Lord of the Riffs Vol 1, and that resulted in a rammed Academy 3 in Birmingham on a Thursday night.
However, tour openers, Buffalo Summer, were on stage ridiculously early with fewer than a handful of people in. This was a real shame as these young Welsh classic rockers have a lot to offer. They have a strong debut album under their belts and as you can hear on our recent interview with vocalist, Andrew Hunt, they are well on the way to writing their second.
They found it a little difficult to find their pace but as the room began to fill, the energy levels picked up and the song quality sang through. ‘Down To The River’, ‘Ain’t No Other’, ‘Rolls On Through’ were enough to show that on a headline night these boys can hold their own. Quality stuff.
Scorpion Child and Monster Truck were alternating the ‘closing’ (the pc-way of saying ‘headline slot’) throughout this tour but for one reason or another MT caught the plumb dates of Nottingham , Birmingham & London along with 2 others on this 9 date tour.
The last time I saw Scorpion Child they were a raucous sex-on-legs testosterone fuelled five man beast. Since then, they have dumped their drummer to be replaced by Jon “Charn” Rice and said a sad farewell to guitarist Tom Frank to become a different animal altogether. Now they are a lean four-piece and obviously much more comfortable in their skin. Released by the shackles of compromise and confrontation, they have discovered themselves and have tapped in to their inner prog. Yes, the prog elements were always there, certainly on record, but now they have embraced them like a prodigal son returned home.
Don’t get me wrong, they haven’t turned into ASIA and they still rock-out like a rock-thing but now it’s with less machismo… it’s now more intelligent and considered. Live workings of ‘Polygon Eyes, ‘Secret Spot’ and ‘Keep Goin’ are re-imagined, given room to breathe, to tell their story.
Let’s not forget that Scorpion Child are only on their first album and are still finding their feet as artists, and that’s the key word, these Texan boys are ‘artists’ and if this tour’s showing is anything to go by, I’m looking forward to their next canvas and will be placing a red ‘sold’ dot alongside their work.
Monster Truck on the other hand do exactly what it says on the tin… big, ballsy, large-tyred, off-road rock n roll. Don’t F**k With The Truck is their motto and they wear it (literally) on their t-shirts.
From industrial, blue-collar, Ontario, these buys love nothing better than splitting a six-pack and shouting obscenities to whomever is playing against their beloved, Leafs (Ice Hockey team the Toronto Maple Leafs).
The public front to the band is the golden tonsiled bassist Jon Harvey, a loveable gentle giant but on this night is prone to technical equivalent of Asperger Syndrome as all he touches fails on him. Guitarist Jeremy Widerman is not far behind as in a show of solidarity, his Marshall goes out on strike with its bass-brethren. Jer is frustrated but with a personality akin to Jack Black in ‘School Of Rock’ is determined that all can be solved with more manic skipping and pints of sweat. And he’s not wrong.
Despite the technical hiccoughs, Monster Truck know how to throw a party and don’t let a little thing like amplification stop the Furiosity (Ed – ooh, nice). The set is jam-packed full of soon-to-be classic riffs that the tour is rightly named after – ‘Old Train’, ‘Righteous Smoke’, ‘Sweet Mountain River’, ‘Seven Seas Blues’, ‘I Am Freedom’, ‘The Lion’ are all going to be up there in the end-of-decade Top 50 Guitar Hooks.
The audience bounced and hollered along to the big, nay, Monster choruses; no wonder these boys are getting so much radio airplay across the world.
Big kudos goes to all behind this tour, three cracking bands at the beginning of what are bound to be lengthy and rewarding careers. I’m setting my inbox flags to alert me of news of ‘Lords of the Riffs – Vol 2’ as soon as it lands. So should you.