A yellow flag with the words Royal Tusk is displayed as a backdrop to the as the 4 players take their positions – all at front of stage, in line – accompanied by the theme from A Clockwork Orange. Launching straight in to ‘First Time’ from their 2018 album Tusk II the band fill the airspace with their heavy solid Rock sound and the lighting is dramatically timed with every strike of the guitars. The second song ‘Freedom’ also from the Tusk II album further ramps up the energy with lead vocalist Daniel Carriere incorporating demonstrative hand gestures to emphasise his words in between his own guitar playing. ‘Curse the Weather’ from the bands 2017 album Deal Breaker begins with a thudding beat from Drummer Calen Stuckel and a funky groove from Bassist Sandy Mackinnon which has the audience clapping along. The venue is now just over half full and the crowd are a mixed bunch of ages with a bounty of trucker caps and loose fitting checkered-shirts-over-T-shirts aplenty. Lead Guitarist Quinn Cyrankiewicz and DC join forces in singing the “Don’t matter what you want from me” parts of this one and the drums paired with the bass quite literally ground-shakes the room awake. Checking in with the crowd after their 4thsong – a more haunting track – ‘Reflection’ from Tusk II, Bassist SM announces that this is the band’s first ever time playing Bristol “and you guys are making us feel so welcome!” which elicits a good applause. As DC and QC retune their guitars SM raises his bass above his head and strums, leading into ‘Stowaway’ from Tusk II which features a good firm riff and a solo from QC who takes to centre stage to perform this. The complexity increases with the next song ‘Die Knowing’ which is heavier rock again from the Tusk II album and features an impressive double guitar solo performed by both QC and DC. The venue is now three quarters full and there are many more bodies on the dancefloor paying attention and moving in time. Bassist SM dedicates the next song to Chris Cornell and as drummer CS pounds the intro out, the crowd quickly realise that they are being treated to a cover of Audioslave’s ‘Cochise’. It may seem somewhat of a brave feat to tackle those vocals this late on, in what has already been a highly energetic set but DC and the rest of Royal Tusk have the natural aptitude for this style of music and though it is only the first half of the song, it is executed extremely well. It also leads nicely in to the last song ‘Aftermath’ from Tusk II which is in much the same vein. This band are loud, tight, expressive and well worth checking out.
For more information visit: www.royaltusk.com
The stage is in darkness as the band filter on. Suddenly, in an explosion of yellow lights, lead vocalist/ bassist Jon Harvey introduces their presence with a loud howl and the band open into their first song ‘The Lion’ from the 2013 album Furiosity which involves some enthusiastic keyboard playing from Brandon Bliss and gets their fans singing, bobbing and foot stomping from the outset. JH announces “We’re gonna have a good time tonight, I hope you’re ready to rock n’ roll.” The second song ‘Don’t tell me how to live’ from the 2016 album Sittin’ Heavyhas the crowd singing along to every word and by the next 2 songs ‘Devil Don’t Care’ from the 2018 album True Rockers and ‘Enforcer’ from Sittin’ Heavy, the filled venue is jigging along and Woah-oh-oh-oh-oohing encouragingly whilst Guitarist Jeremy Widerman rapidly strums – his upper arms a testament to his powerful playing. ‘Evolution’ from True Rockers, is a chunky anthem with an interesting vocal arrangement and all band members join the singing, complete with drummer Steve Kiely and his cleverly suspended microphone. The crowd interact with the band throughout the set and there are chants of “Don’t f**k with the truck” along with rhythmic clapping to accompany the kick drum from SK during ‘Righteous Smoke’ from the 2011 The Brown EP. Whilst ‘She’s a Witch’ and ‘Things get better’ from Sittin’ Heavy feature raw guitar solos from JW and gritty vocals from JH that quite honestly could set your soul on fire and rid it of any demons. The ‘True Rockers’ title track is an incredible feel-good anthem with its indisputable “I know Who I Am” lyrics and so it’s no wonder that the question of “Are you ready” from JH is met with a resounding YES from the constantly incoming crowd traffic. There are couple of welcome tempo changes within the set in the form of ‘For the people’ from Sittin’ Heavy introduced by JH as “the closest we ever got to f**kin’ Country” which induces an all singing and swaying crowd as well as a striking spot lit guitar solo, centre stage, from JW. Whilst the Blues song of the set ‘Seven Seas Blues’ from The Brown EP offers a much more sombre mood, switched right down in speed with lingering keyboard notes, moody guitar, slow thrashed out drumming and mournful singing. You can feel the emotions in the room with this one; sympathy and longing. Guitarist JW falls to his knees to play, SK accentuates each beat with meaning and the last note, a well-fitting scream from JH, pales into extended bass and guitar notes to keep the crowd hanging for the final moment before instead leading into ‘Old Train’ from Furiosity which livens the crowd back up. The dancefloor is filled with a lot of happy faces for the encore songs ‘Why are You Not Rocking’ and ‘New Soul’ both from the Sittin’ Heavy album. An impressive start to the band’s 25 date tour.
Find out more at: www.ilovemonstertruck.com
Review written by Suzi Bootz
Photography by Pacific Curd Photography