Birmingham on a Sunday night should be an easy sale ticket wise. The country's second city is a hive of activity as I arrive for this evenings Monster Magnet show. There is a little stumbling block however, also in town tonight are a band called Iron Maiden, you may have heard of them? So as I wander through the city streets heading for the O2 Academy everyone else seems to be heading in the opposite direction to see that behemoth of a show.
Despite the show clash, as I walk into the dry ice filled room I have to carve a way through the throngs of people. It is full despite being forty five minutes to the opening act. A good sign this gig is going to bring the house down, and a great sign that the music scene in the Midlands is alive and well.
The aforementioned opening act are Londoners The Dust Coda, who signed a record deal with those good folks over at Holier Than Thou Records. The sound the four piece create is heavy as hell, blues influenced rock and roll. Opening song All I Got shows large hints at an influence from ground breakers Kyuss. Front man John Drake reminds me of a young Joe Cocker both vocally and in terms of stage presence.
Being the only opening act they get 45 minutes to shine in front of the packed house. Adam Mackie on guitars pulls off some wonderful blues laden solos and drummer Scott shows he's technically superb both on his drum riser and as a showman. A thoroughly enjoyable set highlighted the talent of these up and comers and it was good to see them mingling with fans in the crowd straight afterwards.
To move onto the reason we are all here tonight, Monster Magnet returning to headline a string of UK dates. I discovered this band back in the mid 90's, through airings on the Radio 1 Rock Show and Noisy Mothers, but it was 1998's Powertrip that really gripped me and pulled me in. We may now be twenty years on and frontman Dave Wyndorf may have hit the big 6-0 but I am not less excited and he will put in no less effort.
The dry ice machine starts billowing out plumes of smoke into the packed room, the lights dim, and one by one band members start clambering through the gaps in speaker stacks on the small stage to take up their place. Last out is the legend himself, Wyndorf. Acknowledging the crowd, picking up the mic and opening into Dopes to Infinity, the title track from their 1995 album. That trademark Monster Magnet sound envelopes the audience topped off with Wyndorfs exquisite vocals.
Powertrip makes an early appearance in the set, and soon the whole room is singing along whilst I and no doubt many others appreciate the solo guitar work of Garrett Sweeny. Throughout the set the drumming of Bob Pantella has me transfixed, it may not have the speed or aggression of a thrash metal drum track, but its exactly fitting to the Monster Magnet sound and technically excellent, proving you don't need to be fast to be a top class drummer.
The set rumbles on through the magical Look into Your Orb, Twin Earth, I Want More and Dinosaur Vacuum. Its been over an hour of majestic stoner rock so far, Wyndorf still going strong and showing no signs of tiring as we hit the classic Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Phil Caivano's guitars have steered us through all evening and theres no stopping him now, traditional stoner riffs with a twist of something that grips you, draws you in and doesn't let go.
As the end draws closer we are treated to two more classics from the Powertrip album, first the inimitable Tractor, but rounded out by crowd favourite Space Lord. What more can you want from a show than 200 sweaty 30/40 somethings singing "Space Lord Motherf***er" at the top of their voices along with this legendary band. A stunning way to finish what has been a classic set from one of the forefathers of the genre.