GIG REVIEW: MONSTER MAGNET & SCORPION CHILD Live at Tivoli Vrendenburg, Utrecht
Scorpion Child gets the honor of opening for the main act today, and when they start the beautiful new Ronda room in Tivoli Vredenburg isn’t even half full. They don’t seem to mind though, as they deliver their excellently played 70’s infused rock. The bellbottom pants sported by the band reference the summer of love even more. Front man Aryn Jonathan Black is a sight to behold as he shimmies and parades over the stage, striking poses and making arm gestures to emphasize his point, while his powerful clear vocals sound clearly over the guitar and synth whirlwind whipped up by the rest of the band. Sadly the backing vocals are a little on the quiet side, meaning they drown in the rest of the music a bit. While they surely give an energetic and amazing show, somehow the music itself seems to lack something identifying it as its own and as the gig goes on a feeling of “good, but not special” creeps up on me.
Monster Magnet live are always a treat, though the last time I saw them their newer material wasn’t vibing with the crowd as well. Today they are playing a 25 year hit-reel though, leaning especially hard on the older, heavier material. By the time the band takes the stage the Ronda has filled up almost completely, however the wide rounded layout of the room means you never feel crowded or like you can’t see the show. Even though Dave Wyndorf has had his share of health problems in recent years and isn’t his thin lithe younger self anymore, his energy, presence and especially vocals are still impressive. It’s amazing to see how well he can still have the crowd eating from the palm of his hand. Halfway through the set you can see that playing live is taking more of a toll on him though, as he visibly becomes tired and his vocals become a little less powerful than their usually mighty bellow. The rest of the band takes their own spotlights in a well oiled way, soloing or just whipping up the crowd themselves. Musically the only weaker point again is the backing vocals being a little low in the mix, but the rest are as excellent as on record.
There is no particular order to the tunes played today, except of course “Spacelord motherfucker” being played at the end of the main set. After about 10 minutes of the room shouting and whistling for them to come back, they return, gloriously, playing two more tunes and treating us to an extended ‘guitar freak-out’. The sheer amount of crowd surfers in the audience and the fact that after they go off stage the crowd is still applauding 5 minutes later shows how appreciative their fans are. The only thing that could have made the show better would have been dancing girls on stage.
Tonight was a night of the incredibly strong front man, celebrating the history of rock and roll, from the 70’s and Woodstock inspired Scorpion Child taking us on a strange journey of guitars and synths, to Monster Magnet taking us on a journey back to the heyday or big rock, and giving a show we feel would have done well in a much bigger room too.