MONSTER MAGNET ‘MINDF*CKER TOUR’ W/PENDEJ0
Limelight 1, Belfast 2/6/18
The allure of the Golden Age of rock and metal – the end of the Seventies, and most of the Eighties – has enjoyed an extraordinary longevity: its influence is still being felt now, thirty-odd years later; an impressive feat by anyone’s standards. Take Monster Magnet: having formed at the tail end of the era, they doggedly stuck to their classic hard/stoner/psych rock template throughout the Nineties when grunge was taking a sledgehammer to almost all genres of music, only making it big when the rock world finally decided that grunge had had its day and it was time to move forward – but also, peculiarly, look back. Their fourth album Powertrip, and lead single ‘Space Lord’ smashed their way onto the world stage, and MM’s retro rock style was finally lauded by both critics and fans alike.
Fast forward to 2018, and Monster Magnet are touring their ‘Mindf*cker’ album worldwide, including tonight’s gig in Belfast’s Limelight, with support act Pendej0. The latter take to the stage promptly at 7pm and begin their set playing to an almost empty, cavernous room. Their spirited hard/stoner rock soon attracts a curious crowd though, and by the time they hit their stride around the third song the room is filling up nicely. Based in Amsterdam but singing in Spanish (their intro tape was traditional Spanish music), they rather cleverly combine hard rock, urban lyrics and, uh, a trumpet and trombone to create a sound that’s as fun as it is undeniably catchy. Grizzled frontman and trumpet player El Pastuso bellows out his vocals with hollered gusto and gravelly confidence, rousing the crowd effortlessly; and while the brass section may be a bit unexpected, it certainly lends their music an element of ska-like pep. Although there are a few flat moments, when they nail it they’re fantastic.
A trippy, psychedelic projector show and darkened house lights heralds the arrival of tonight’s headliners, who are greeted with a huge roar when they step onstage. They waste no time in getting on with it, opening the show with stoner anthem ‘Dopes to Infinity’, and simply slam the pedal to the metal for the next hour and a half. Frontman Dave Wyndorf spares almost no time to chat, preferring to belt out hit after hit with barely a pause in between. The crowd, for their part, go crazy, with fists pumping and heads banging throughout.
Their sound – a fertile mix of Sabbath, Kiss and Aerosmith – is classic rock at its very best, and they revel in it, throwing in long instrumental breaks, solos galore, and drawn out, extended versions of every song. The crowd – a rather unusual mix of the usual rockers and metalheads, suburban mums and grey-haired gentlemen (former rock fans letting it all hang out for the night, presumably), as well as, rather memorably, one dude who keeps his sunglasses on for the whole gig – lap up every second, while ecstatically keeping up with the band’s pace.
The biggest reaction of the night is reserved, naturally, for their biggest hit ‘Space Lord’ (although their electrifying rendition of latest single ‘Mindf*cker’ comes close). Prefacing the track with a rather rambling speech on the joys of swearing (“It’s like being a caveman…it’s not that I’m stupid, I just wanna be stupid!”), they swing into the intro and the room erupts. Although profanities litter many rock and metal songs, it’s rare to see so many people sing “motherf*cker” together with such deafening gusto…perhaps we all need to let loose and act stupid now and then?
A five minute break marks the end of the bulk of the set (not to mention the longest pause of the evening), but they return for a three song encore, which ends with a rather epic, nine minute version of ‘Powertrip’ before exiting the stage like conquering heroes. The audience hangs around, gazing
longingly at the stage, seemingly reluctant to admit that the night is over and it’s time to go – always a sign of a very good gig indeed.
People (especially some young uns) may scoff at the hair, and clothes, and general ‘sex, drugs and rock n roll’ debauchery of the era of classic rock and metal, but one thing is undeniable – the music was frickin’ awesome, something which Monster Magnet has shown in spades tonight. Classic rock will always be just that: classic. Long live rock n roll.
Dopes to Infinity
Look to Your Orb For the Warning
When the Hammer Comes Down
Negasonic Teenage Warhead
End of Time
Review by Melanie Brehaut
Photos by Darren McVeigh