Kid Congo – live review

Kid Congo
Manchester Deaf Institute

The band is swinging. A four piece who define that mysterious old rock n roll word, chops, they are fronted by a louche individual, Kid Congo who is dressed in a leather waistcoat and a pencil moustache and who can really swing that guitar.

Kid Congo has a great history and on the evidence of this gig a great future as well.

The guitarist has played with a roll call of the coolest rock n roll bands from the last three decades- the holy trinity of the Gun Club, Bad Seeds and the Cramps– it sounds like the cornerstone of a great record collection- all bands who took punk and the blues and rockabilly and turned it into something else. Congo is not dwarfed by his past, which reads as the ultimate Wikipedia entry, instead he thrives on it and celebrates it and forges forward with his new band, the Pink Monkey Birds who thrill the pretty full venue.

Congo was also the president of the Ramones fan club in 1976- a youthful presence on the breaking punk scene in 1976 when still known as Brian Tristan- since then classic rock n roll runs through his veins and he twists this with his second generation Mexicana and his snese of humour giving the songs a further flavour.

Two albums in with the Pink Monkey Birds, the collaboration with New York City guitarist Jack Martin and a tight rhythm section and its really cooking. The band deal out a great mélange of surf, garage, blues, psychobilly and psychedelia.
It’s classic stuff and twisted with a skewed sense of humour and Congo’s affable charm which infuses the songs and gives them an individuality.

Their set is a mixture of instrumentals and darkly funny songs with the sort of twisted humour of a John Waters’ film. Each one is complete with its own funny little intro explanation from Powers who sorta looks like Ron Mael of the Sparks, ”˜anyone here on acid? well this is a little ditty about my hometown, the capital of America, called LSD”¦C’ before the band crash into another perfect slice of garage rock from their ”˜Dracula Boots’ album.

They also toss in versions of the Gun Club’s ”˜Sexbeat’ and ”˜For the Love Ivy’ and a great version of the Cramps ”˜I’m Cramped’ which Kid never played on originally but makes his own before dedicating the song to the great Lux Interior.

It’s tough to find any space in this kinda music but experience wins through and the Kid is doing fine.

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