3 Daft Monkeys @ The Old Bakery Truro, Gig Review
by GEE WITCHALLS
When it comes to Cornish success stories, there aren’t many bigger than stalwarts of the global scene, the festival legends that are 3 Daft Monkeys.
Having been familiar with their music for a number of years, it surprised me a little to realise that I’d never actually seen them play live before – and given that performance is what they are renowned for, this seemed hugely remiss of me. I got the chance to rectify this at the wonderful (you already know I love the place) Old Bakery Studios in Truro last weekend.
The Monkeys’ newest album ‘Year of the Clown’ inspired a circus theme for the night, and I duly donned my daughter’s fake beard to get into the spirit of things. There were some marvellous outfits on display, plus fantastic face painting from Jo Blake and incredible Thai street food (the curry puffs were beyond superlatives) from resident kitchen wizards Punk Thai.
Vagabond circus were in the building adding a real circus vibe with their young performers – stilt walkers, acrobats and contortionists mingled with the crowd and entertained us between acts. They really put on a spectacle and it was inspiring to see young people with such passion and energy.
The support act, Black Eyed Nancy, were a great choice for the gig, getting the crowd warmed up nicely for the main act with their up-tempo but slightly wistful tunes. Their page describes them as an ‘energetic contemporary folk group with a mix of trad and original material to get your feet moving’ and this certainly does them justice. Definitely a band to keep your eye out for, they sound likely to go places!
Onto the main event – the Monkeys themselves. The band have gained themselves a cult following, especially in their homeland of Kernow, and I have to say it’s well-deserved. I’ve never seen a crowd react so instantaneously to a band, it almost felt as though the whole gig was just a group of old friends, having a knees up in the kitchen on a Friday night. But bigger, louder, and infinitely more polished. Talk about tightness – the Monkeys give the impression that they are tapping into the same mystical source, with impeccable timing and instinctive reactions to one another. It’s rare to see in any band, of any stature, and it’s one of the things that makes the band so hypnotic live. It has to be said that a lot of the magic comes from Athene, who must be one of the finest fiddle players in the known universe. How is it possible for anyone to move their hands so quickly, and yet never hit a bum note? The woman is a marvel and I could barely take my eyes off her for the duration – except when I was dancing, of course. And making you dance is what these guys do best, above all else. You wouldn’t think that waltzing around an industrial building was much of a Thing in these modern times, but you’d be so, so wrong. The room barely stopped moving, only slowing down to sway along to the beautiful (and heartbreaking) Look at the Stars.
You get the picture by now. I could sum up the Monkeys live on a simple sentence thus: go and see them. No matter what you think of what you’ve heard of their work, I promise that you will be swept away by their energy, their vibrancy, the tangible love between them and their fans, and the ridiculously good musicianship all round. Gig rating – 1 billion out of 10.
Full album review coming very soon!