New oldmansmettle.com reviewer ‘SWAG’ takes time off from hoarding vinyl to descend upon smelly old London and review these space rock bastards at the 02 Forum….
Review by SWAGGITY HAIRY BREECHES
Having attended DESERTFEST a few years back when the mighty MONSTER MAGNET were playing, and then actually fucking missing them by meeting up with a London living ex who I hadn’t seen for years, I knew what my punishment must be….becoming a loathsome music journalist for this site for one! Bizarrely, I partly justified the decision to myself at the time with the fact that MONSTER MAGNET were clashing with the wonderful KING BUFFALO at the festival, and therefore, unable to reconcile this dreadful fact, perhaps it was best to miss them both!
The last time I’d seen Dave and the boys was in Birmingham a couple of years ago, and I have to say it was possibly the best gig I’ve EVER attended (and having been to maybe several hundred gigs, many of them corkers, that’s no throwaway statement). It was less a gig and more a transcendental, supernatural experience. This fact made the DESERTFEST non-gig hard to live with and the trip to the smoke this wet January easier.
So, inside the venue I’m immediately struck by the building itself. There’s a fair few listed buildings that host gigs these days, but the Forum, which I’ve never attended before, takes the biscuit, rivalling even Leamington Spa Assembly and Blackpool Winter Gardens. A 3 tiered affair with amazing décor. It did get me wondering though – how they were going to get a good sound in such an oddly shaped and cavernous place?
What was amazing once I’d cast my eyes around the place, was the huge array of strange and eclectic onlookers the gig had attracted. It was very well attended, despite not being a complete sell out (perhaps it had sold out in the end, it was very crowded). It was like the bar in Star Wars on a grand scale….a gender mix of teenage punks, metallers, psychedelic drug fuck-ups in their 50’s and 60’s, doom and stoner freaks…you name it. Not seen a band pull quite such a variety of freaks and ne’er-do-wells since a Misfits gig I attended in the 90’s, but the age range was greater here.
Massive amount of merch too, and after nearly buying an “I’m never going to work another day in my life” T-shirt (very tempting) I opted for a fantastic ‘Tab’ one instead.
The support act was Them Damn Crows. They sound like any new rock act of the moment. Not a decent riff to be found…all bluster and no talent whatsoever. Obviously on a big push by some label or other, hence getting on this tour. If you’ve ever heard the Rock Show on Saturday nights on Radio 2, these are like all the ‘new’ music that is played on there….derivative and safe. Awful….just awful.
Onto the main act. They were playing the entire ‘Powertrip‘ album on this tour, the album that really blew the gaff wide open in terms of exposure.And for once this was justified. Track after track of total class. “Crop Circle”, “Powertrip”, “Space Lord”, “Bummer”…you just can’t argue with it. Wyndorf is totally off on one tonight (isn’t he always….never seen a bad gig by this lot). Possibly the only guy who could sing so much about getting high, and his cock, and get away with it? Energy levels in the red ( how does he do it? ) and guitarist Ed peels off those awesome solos effortlessly. Rest of the band all play a blinder and an hour and a half goes by in the blink of an eye.
The whole room is moving most of the time, including the sagely nodding heads of the broken bikers, walking stick acid casualties, and gap-toothed sulphate wasters. Crowd go totally nuts for “Space Lord” and “Tractor”. “Baby Gotterdammerung” was mesmerising. Ditto “Atomic Clock”. “3rd Eye Landslide” is a highlight with the band and crowd going well mental. The venue, as predicted, had a less than great sound, not too bad though, and a band of this quality is still going to deliver the goods. After blowing our minds with the album, a fantastic double-headed encore of Hawkwind’s “The Right Stuff” (not the most obvious Hawks cover, showing the depth of appreciation of the band from Dave, and always a Hawks live highlight which Magnet have picked up and run with), and the classic “Dinosaur Vacuum”.
So, all in all a cracking gig. Not up there with the best times I’ve seen em ( a fair few, and never the same venue twice), but that was down to the sound and expansive venue rather than the band themselves. Hope I get to see em again before Dave implodes from all the maximum effort!!!