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Gig Photos: Big Wreck and Monster Truck at the Bronson Centre

By Marc Lepage on December 9, 2021

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BRKN LOVE got things started, and lead singer Justin Benlolo made short work of getting the crowd fired up.

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One of the highlights of their set was their newest single, “Dead Weight”. Written during the peak of COVID isolation, it expresses the feelings of being useless, and the dangers of spending too much time in your own mind.

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Hamilton’s Monster Truck were the co-headliners, hitting the stage after BKRN LOVE’s opening set.

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The band played through a set of fan favourites, including “Sweet Mountain River” and “Don’t Tell Me How To Live”. Bassist/vocalist Jon Harvey handled both duties with ease, all the while engaging the crowd, encouraging crowd participation, and taking some time to throw in a little football rivalry by expressing his love of their hometown Hamilton Tiger-Cats. It was also nice to see him representing local legends House of TARG on his t-shirt.

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The band’s set included a new song called “Country Living”, which was well-received by avid Monster Truck fans, many of whom were seen sporting “Don’t F*&K with the Truck” merchandise.

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The southern, roots-rock influences were strong in the song “For The People”, with strong vocal harmonies, reminiscent of bands like the Allman Bros.

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Big Wreck got the night started with a new song, “Beano”, off of their recently released five-song EP called 7.1. The band intends to release two additional EPs in the coming months, rather than release a 15 song album at once. Frontman Ian Thornley has explained in interviews that the way people consume music has changed, which is why they have shifted to this approach to releasing music.

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Having been a fan since their initial release in 1997, I see Big Wreck every time they come to town and every show is an absolute master class in musicianship. Big Wreck initially formed at Berklee College of Music, which shows, as Ian manages to weave incredibly diverse guitar parts into their songs.

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Longtime bassist Dave McMillan has recently started taking on more and more backing vocal duties in recent years, with impressive results, helping to fill out the sound, and replicate the layers on vocals on studio albums.

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Big Wreck’s founder, and lead singer/guitarist/songwriter, Ian Thornley has been in the game for a long time, and seemingly just keeps getting better with time. He continues to impress with his vocal range and pyrotechnical guitar playing abilities.

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Taking on additional guitar and backing vocals a couple of years ago is Belleville’s Chris Caddell, who brought an impressive pedigree of his own to the band, having been a supporting member of various acts, including Colin James and Sass Jordan.

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Drummer Sekou Lumumba previously played in Ian Thornley’s solo project, Thornley, which released two albums in the 2000s, so when he stepped in to take over following Chuck Keeping’s departure, it was an easy fit for him to come into the fold. His solid playing has made for dynamic new material and added a tightness to every song in the band’s set.

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The band’s lighting and visuals onstage complemented each song throughout the set, with changing colours, images and words, such a frantic repeated error message during the heavy-hitting track “Bombs Away” from the 7.1 EP.

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Tuesday night’s show was the last night of the Ontario leg of the Big Wreck tour, with co-headliners Monster Truck and openers BRKN LOVE. Dates in Quebec and Western Canada will follow in 2022.

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The Bronson Centre was jam packed as fans treated to a set of new and old songs from the band’s expansive catalogue. Fans sang along to favourites such as “That Song” and “Come Again”, which segued into hints of U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday” as the band jammed through an extended middle section before rising to a climactic finish. The band closed out the evening with their breakthrough single “The Oaf” from 1997’s In Loving Memory Of. Check out the band’s new EP, 7.1, wherever you buy or stream music.

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