With the onset of February we are getting a little busier. 2nd, Protest The Hero, 6th Del Amitri, 9th Molly Hatchet, 14th Monster Magnet, 15th Dream Theater, 19th, Sons Of Icarus, 20th Skyclad, 25th Soulfly, 26th Cadillac Three

And maybe a couple more to be added.

Friday, 14 February 2014

MONSTER MAGNET, Church Of Misery @Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton 14/2/14

Ahhhh Valentines Day. The most romantic day of the year, the chance to spend the evening with the one you love.

In RTM's case that means five hairy arsed blokes from New Jersey, but Monster Magnet do fit the bill. You see, when we first met - at a Rob Zombie gig just round the corner about 15 years ago - it was love at first sight. We've been in a fairly heavy relationship together since, and whilst we've cheated on them with various other metal bands with a penchant for Sabbath and awesome songs (most notably Orange Goblin, with whom we've been having a torrid affair for a long time) Dave Wyndorf's men are still our first stoner rock love.

By contrast, our first time with tonight's support Church Of Misery wasn't as memorable. Opening for Cathedral a while back (they are signed to Cathedral singer Lee Dorian's record label) they appeared to be a little cartoonish - singer Hideki Fukasawa was wearing a purple jump suit with bell bottomed flares - but this time, with their appearance more normal, the music sounds better too.

Their set is essentially a monstrously heavy Sabbathy sprawl. Fukasawa is stick thin and looks as though his hair weighs more than he does, but when he sings he manages a guttural raw to shake the foundations. Lord knows what the ordained men of this Church are singing about, but aptly it appears angry and dark. Misery this time around are a joy. Our second date with them went well, maybe next time we can go all the way. 

The internet has largely taken the mystery out of setlist guessing, so we already know that it's a good job we like Magnet's new "Last Patrol" album a lot, because they are playing the thing note for note. Yes, ladies and gents, we are in album show territory.

Actually, "...Patrol" lends itself to this treatment. Not as immediate as the "Mastermind" album which preceded it, repeated listens reveal it's true majesty. So whilst we might not be rocking with the Gods and Punks tonight, we are dealing with a mighty fine slab of music. 

In this setting, what is a great record on vinyl is transformed into something even more alive. Beginning with the understated "I Live Behind the Clouds" and ending around 65 minutes later with the plaintive "Stay Tuned," it is a quite brilliant journey through a work of twisted genius. It could have only come from Monster Magnet, but it takes them into areas they just haven't been in before. Straight after "....Clouds" comes its awesome high point of the title track, all 10 minutes of it, it is at once classic Magnet stomp, and when Wyndorf wails: "Melt the ghosts inside my head/The same ones who told me rock was dead", you sense he is singing of his own rebirth, and his recovery from drug and depression problems and a return to musical form in the last few years after some patchy work and one album that he has completely disowned.

Highlights elsewhere include the cover of Donavan's "Three Kingfishers" and "Mindless Ones" with its echoes of 1999s immense "Powertrip" but really the whole piece (and that is how it has to be viewed) sounded incredible. 

They return for four more songs - the evenings one concession to anything conventional, as they knock out some crowd favourites - and of these "Dopes To Infinity" is rapturously received, before closing song "Space Lord" brings the house down.

When long time member's, bass player Jim Baglino and even more shockingly, guitarist Ed Mundell quit, there were justifiable fears for the future of Monster Magnet, instead the new line up - indeed, lead guitar man Garrett Sweeny is superb - have regrouped and come back with an uncompromising and challenging record. Live, tonight, it was the same story.

Unquestionably it wasn't for everyone and there were people in the audience who didn't enjoy hearing the whole of "Last Patrol" being played, who would have liked the aforementioned "Powertrip" and "Negasonic Teenage Warhead " to be aired perhaps. This, though, was a band who was doing exactly what it wanted and pleasing itself. And, if you bought into that, then this will be remembered as one of the gigs of the year. Because Monster Magnet doing what they wanted to sounded quite fantastic.


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