A cold Sunday night in February may not be the best setting for a night of rocktastic excess but any party thrown by Dave Wyndorf is worth attending, and so I arrive at the Electric Ballroom full of hope and expectation – just in time to catch the entrance of four crazy Swede’s…
Bombus? I don’t know how it translates in Swedish but with the wrong stress their name could be a challenge to attack them – I’ll try to resist. They start with their backs to the crowd and they turn to reveal their leather jackets and pointy ugly guitars. Singer Feffe has a white flying V and flowing blonde locks. He looks like a more muscular Vim Fuego from Bad News. They are the most heavy metal thing in the world. In fact, they appear to have never had an un-metal thought in their lives. This comes as a mild surprise to me as on record they have elements of hardcore in their sound, a sort of dry, stop-start restlessness akin to Fugazi. There’s no sign of it live. Of course, utter gonzo conviction can be very entertaining, whatever the quality of the material. Despite the obviousness of their tunes they have a good go at overpowering the audience with sheer force of belief. After about four numbers they have the absolute nerve to include a drum solo and appear to think it the most natural thing in the world. Perhaps it is in their world. They put a smile on everybody face, and what’s wrong with that? Bombus? Bonkers.
And so to the main event, and the venue is filling up nicely as Monster Magnet stroll on. Dave‘s got a twinkle in his eye – it must be star dust – and a UFO t-shirt on. The clues are there from the off that this is going to be a trip into space and Dave asks us if we;re ready to take a ride. Of course we are. And what does it take but ‘The Right Stuff’. Yes, we are treated to a faithful and powerful rendition of the Hawkwind classic, another marker for what kind of set we are to hear.
With the release of “Milking The Stars”, the groovy garage/psyche reworking of “Last Patrol”, the band seem to have decided to further explore the trippy, space rock leanings of “Dopes to Infinity” and are moving away from the more commercial hard rock of the “Powertrip” era.
And indeed it’s “Dopes to Infinity” that comes roaring out from the stage, Dave informing us that we are “the only ones”. We believe. It’s already turning into quite a journey and we are next taken “down by the river, where the spaceship is waiting to take you away‘ on ‘Look to Your Orb For the Warning” and then we head down to ‘Twin Earth’ to be crushed under the weight of some seriously heavy riffing. When they finally ease off the throttle it’s only so Dave can briefly testify like an old blues man before taking us ‘Behind the Clouds’ in a piece of drama tinged by real emotion and poignancy that can only be delivered by survivors of this group’s stature.
After a ‘Last Patrol’ of such epicness it’s incredible it isn’t saved for an encore, we get a ‘Spine of God’ in which Dave reveals his new role as Rock Shaman and from there, oh fuck it… you get the picture. This is a faultless set of hard rock genius.
We get a three-song encore of ‘Twelve Kingfishers’, ‘Drug Farm’ and ‘Space Lord’, where everyone gets to yell “motherfucker” at the top of their lungs. The “Powertrip” era, perhaps inevitably, getting a nod, just because they feel the fans would feel short-changed if they didn’t but really, speaking as a long, long-time fan, I would have been just as happy to have continued the trip further out into space.
The finest night of hard rock in this, or any other, galaxy.