El Monstero | 12.18.10

It was a stellar performance, complete with added characters and visuals typical of  arena-sized productions



Photos: Amy Burger

The Pageant, St. Louis
Now in its twelfth year, El Monstero has become the St. Louis music scene’s holiday tradition; and in a year where the Pink Floyd tribute had to compete with a recent epic performance of The Wall by none other than Floyd’s own Roger Waters, they came back bigger and stronger than ever.
The Pageant’s stage was transformed, extended fully out over the floor, with “Fearless” seating on the stage for about a hundred people, with the band playing in the round. At center-stage, four large, curved cylindrical posts rose from the floor like giant beanstalks with nine huge plasma TVs toping them on all sides and eight smaller ones mounted closer to the bottom.
The screens lit up to signal the show’s start – with a close-up of singer/guitarist Mark Thomas Quinn’s face asking, “Is there anybody out there?”
With the crowd’s cheer, the band took to the stage clad in black suits with white ties, launching into “The Thin Ice” and “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 1.” The first set continued through a good majority of The Wall. Admittedly, having been privileged to see the Roger Waters show, it was a little harder to get into the set as much as I wanted to, but they gave it their all and it was a stellar performance, complete with added characters and visuals typical of more arena-sized productions.
A robe-clad Schoolmaster came out to shake his finger at the audience and pole dancers flanked the stage for “Young Lust” as sexy silhouettes danced across the TV screens.
Vocalist/guitarist Jimmy Griffin declared that the band was dedicating their entire performance to Keith Richards on his 67th Birthday, then paused and launched into “Hey You.”
As the guitarists worked the entire stage area, rotating to provide the folks seated on stage a good view, drummer John Pessoni sat anchored on a raised round platform in the center of the video towers and keyboardists Bill Reiter and Jake Elking flanked him on either side.
The highlight of first set came during “Run Like Hell” when the song’s infectious drum beat, pounded out by the talented Pessoni, was taken over briefly by the Pacific High School Marching Band drum corps. The teens banged out a fierce solo that had the place cheering.
After ending The Wall portion of the set, they closed it with a seemingly misplaced but killer version of “Shine on, You Crazy Diamond” featuring the superior saxophone skills of Dave Farver as a disco ball created a diamond effect throughout the venue.
As the band headed into a break, KSHE DJ Favazz greeted the crowd, gesturing to the stage setup and asking, “So, how do you like the new rig?”
When the band returned they were clad in white suits, with the exception of Griffin, who sported skinny white jeans and a white t-shirt emblazoned with “Keith” and Keith Richards’ face in bright red silkscreen.
The second set is where the show really took off, as they launched into lengthy and psychedelic “Echoes” from Meddle. Next Griffin grabbed a stool and an acoustic guitar for “Dogs” off of Animals with electric guitarist Bryan Greene shredding the song’s climactic solo before proceeding into “Pigs (Three Different Ones).” After touching on the album Wish You Were Here with “Have a Cigar,” Monstero moved into the set’s centerpiece – Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety.
Psychedelic swirling clocks appeared in black and white across the video screens as the alarms sounded for “Time” and outstanding backup singers Ermine Cannon, Tandra Williams and Melinda (Mindy) Mierek shared vocal duties for the show-stopping “Great Gig in the Sky,” eliciting the evening’s first standing ovation.
The stage washed in green for “Money,” Greene and Griffin tearing up the guitar parts as bassist and Monstero founder Kevin Gagnepain laid down the heavy bass riffs. Farver’s sax sounded sweet and soulful on “Us and Them.”
When the set was over, Favazz returned to the stage once again to introduce all of the band members – which reads like a who’s who of the past 20 years of the St. Louis music scene – most of them having been signed to major labels at some point.
He then noted that Saturday’s show was the first of all the Monstero dates to sell out and asked “Is anybody ready to go home?” The response was a resounding, “No!” and the band once again took the stage for a three-song encore of “In the Flesh (Pt. 2)” followed by a mellow sing-along of “Wish You Were Here” and a no-holds barred “Comfortably Numb” to close the show.
Of course nothing will ever be as great as the real thing, but for Pink Floyd fans, El Monstero is as close as one can get and the show just gets bigger and better every time. I already can’t wait to see how they plan to top it next year. | Amy Burger


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