There’s something about double denim and classic hard rock that just go together. Tonight’s Lord Of The Riff tours is bulging with retro riffs and the crowd outside the Camden Underworld is heavy with beards, beer bellies and Canadian tuxedos. The Co-headliners Scorpion Child and Monster Truck have been taking it in turns to close the night, and tonight the Canadian Truck get the honour.
Openers Buffalo Summer provide a heavy dose of Led Zeppelin love. The South Wales boys aren’t afraid of a sweet melody, and it’s not hard why they’ve been described as Led Zep meets Free. It’s an energetic set played with confidence, and guitarist Jonny Williams is reminiscent of Slash both in playing style and on stage moves.
Hailing from Austin, Texas, Scorpion Child have recently had to switch from a quintet to a quartet after a band reshuffle, but seem no worse for it. Their psychedelic rock is performed with a swagger, and songs such as ‘Polygon of Eyes’ and ‘King’s Highway’ means they come across as a metallic take on all those Swedish Rock revivalists, which is no bad thing. Compared to the 70’s flairs of Buffalo Summer and the shaggy appearance of Monster Truck, Scorpion Child look positively dapper, and you sense on a bigger stage, they’d make a big show of things. Frontman Aryn Jonathan Black is the band’s vocal point. His hypnotising movements and Robert Plant wail hold the attention and hold much of the front row in rapture.
But as good as Scorpion Child were it’s hard to see why Monster Truck haven’t been closing every night on this tour. Back in the UK after support Vista Chino last year, the volume and energy levels of the audience have multiplied before the band have got into the first verse of the opening ‘Old Train.’ Dealing in big sing-alongs, meaty guitars and lashings of groove, the truck are reminiscent of early Black Stone Cherry but with bigger riffs, better songs and less soppy ballads. The Browning EP gets a good showing, ‘Seven Sea Blues’, ‘I Am Freedom’ and the massive ‘Righteous Smoke’ have the audience singing along to every word.
Guitarist Jeremy Widerman is the band’s energetic rabbit, running, jumping and jiving all across the stage and only staying still when he has to provide the backing vocals, while Bassist/vocalist Jon Harvey’s commanding presence means the energy levels hardly drop throughout their set, and numbers cut from debut album Furiosity, such as ‘Sweet Mountain River’, ‘Oh Lord’ and ‘Call It A Spade’ just keep sending the crowd crazy. And when they do slow things down, it’s hard to be impressed by Harvey’s vocal range and control on the soulful blues of ‘For The Sun’ or ‘My Love Is True.’ The crushing closer ‘The Giant’ almost sends the crowd into meltdown as the pit explodes from the front few to almost the whole crowd.
If there’s any justice, all three bands will go onto to bigger things. SC have the compelling frontman, but MT are tonight’s big draw and have the songs and the report with the audience. The band’s motto is ‘Don’t Fuck With The Truck.’ On the strength of tonight’s performance, it’s hard to see anyone fucking with their rise to the top.