LIVE REVIEW: Kid Congo Powers & The Pink Monkey Birds, Pink Poison @ The Cluny, Newcastle (24.10.23) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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It seems I’m the last to hear about the mighty Pink Poison, but I got there in the end. Can I get a hallelujah up in here? Their rambunctious collision of garage rock, southern Gothic hillbilly and dirty blues is the sort of thing that can go horribly wrong but they get it so deliciously right. Pitching their tent somewhere between The Gun Club, Captain Beefheart and Canned Heat, they roar through their set like a band actually having an excellent time, and frontman Tyler is a revelation – a proper blues huckster, harmonica and all (and it takes cojones to pair a gambler’s tie with a cable-knit cardy). An absolute blast.

Kid Congo Powers is on something of a victory lap, his wonderful new autobiography New Kind Of Kick reminding folks just how pivotal he’s been and just how special he still is. The Pink Monkey Birds are just a duo tonight – Mark Cisneros is always a blast on guitar (talk about pivotal – check this guy’s CV) and the drummer was pretty wild too. The Kid is clad in a gorgeous pink suit, adorned with a lightning bolt cape and a bibbidy-bobbidy hat, and he’s in a ssslliiinnnkkyy mood. The set is a mix of old and new Pink Monkey Birds stuff and old classics. The newer PMB tracks reveal a deeper immersion in Latino sounds, one track almost a Santana jam, another using (and getting away with) some unexpected jazz flute from Cisneros. It’s easy to forget beneath the patter, the swagger and the voodoo that the Kid is a fine guitarist, but these Latin jams were a great reminder. The reaction from the Cluny crowd – as busy as I’ve seen it in some time – is fantastic throughout. We got Gun Club tunes and Cramps tunes of course (New Kind Of Kick, She’s Like Heroin To Me and the rest) and it occurs to me that one of the many reasons to love the Kid – I mean, really adore everything about the guy – is that he’s a living breathing link to so much (and so many) that we’ve lost along the way. Long may he run.

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