Kid Congo And The Pink Monkey Birds
Nice And Sleazy’s, Glasgow
26th November 2013
Bad Seeds, Cramps and Gun Club guitar-in-chief comes to town and Joe Whyte goes along for Louder Than War.
Ramones fan club president as a teenager. Guitarist in the Imperial periods of The Cramps, The Gun Club, Fur Bible and the Bad Seeds. Not a bad pedigree at all. Add to that a solo career for the last decade or so with a quite remarkable run of records and you wouldn’t be far off in using the term legend.
Ladeez and gentlemen, in Glasgow tonight, Mr Kid Congo Powers and his Pink Monkey Birds, playing songs from new album Haunted Head and choice cuts from his illustrious career.
It’s a Tuesday night, Celtic are playing Milan in the Champions League (enough said about that!) and it’s colder than a witches bosom in Glasgow. However, the ghouls, the gorehounds and the garage rock of mind are out to play and Sleazy’s is bouncing to the sounds of ancient rockabilly and surf guitars from the DJs entertaining the almost capacity crowd.
Wandering onstage, the Pink Monkey Birds are, to a man, wearing Ivy league-style college cardigans and pink shirts. Last time out, they were sporting rather fetching Mariachi suits. Nothing short of stylish, these fellas.
Kid Congo is similarly attired but sporting a Brando cap and lurid green loafers. He casually straps on his Fender and unleashes an ear-bleeding assault of tremelo feedback. The noise quickly evolves into the rhythmic wash of Conjure Man and we’re off and running. The band are a tightly drilled unit and drummer Ron Miller is using timpani beaters instead of sticks, summoning the voodoo.
Without pause, the band roll into Gun Club classic She’s Like Heroin To Me and the crowd go suitably tonto. There’s a guy in front of me doing what can only be described as a speed-fuelled version of the Watusi and there’s a pleasing amount of young folk down front going berserk. Well, when they’re not arsing around with their phones, that is….
Kid plays guitar open tuned as he did with The Cramps, giving free rein to unearthly squalls of white noise and fuzzed-out feedback. He can play a bit too; when the bottleneck comes out for The Cramps I Can’t Find My Mind, he unleashes some stunning flurries of notes.
He’s an engaging frontman; coyly teasing the crowd with some clearly rehearsed banter, he introduces each song with a little vignette backed by the bands lounge musak backing. Killer Diller is introduced as being about the titular Phillis and is one of a fair few tracks from new (and damn good) album Haunted Head. The Rad Lords Return is a coda to previous album Gorilla Rose’s track Lord Bloodbathington and echos that songs surf instrumental style. At times, Kid Congo fiddles with some kind of electronic doo-dah at his side, which, when stroked with the headstock of his strat, produces some sci-fi bleeps and whooshes that embellishes the whole 60’s spy movie feel of Su Su.
Kid tells us a story of his teenage years and being picked up hitch hiking by Seeds wildman Sky Saxon before blazing into a cover of that bands Lose Your Mind. It’s a blitzkreig of garage rock meets high school hop and bassman Kiki Solis is playing the low end runs on a six string.
Floor Length Hair is a pulsing, extended wig-out with second guitarist Jesse Roberts mining the tremelo twang as Kid and band strut and slice through the chords.
Gently strumming his guitar, Powers halts and intones the famous opening lines-“You look just like an Elvis from hell” as they ricochet into Jeffrey Lee Pierce’s paean to The Cramps heart-throb For The Love Of Ivy. Cue mass frugging from the Glaswegian crowd. Following this with the mighty Sex Beat just tops things off sweetly.
Finishing with a waltz time version of Green Fuzz, the PMB’s leave a hot and satisfied crowd to head back into the chilly night, sweating and steaming from a night of undistilled rock and roll from one of the true originals.
All words by Joe Whyte. More writing by Joe on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.