LIVE REVIEW: Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds, The Preacher & The Bear @ The Cluny, Newcastle (22.06.16) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image by Lee Fisher

Leicester outfit The Preacher & The Bear came out swinging – within the first song, the piano player had his foot on his keyboard and his hand in his pants, while the singer was climbing the balcony and testifying. But when you saw past the well-drilled faux-abandon and second hand Jim Jones/Jon Spencer clichés, the band are a fairly mediocre southern boogie/blues rock trudge with more chutzpah than tunes and something of The Doors about them (shudder). To be fair, bands have got a lot further on a lot less.

Kid Congo is actually perfect isn’t he? A garage rock dandy, pushing 60 and still cooler than any of us – tonight decked out in a bearskin hat and a stripy suit, worn shiny at the back from guitar straps. And The Pink Monkey Birds – a decade in, his longest project yet in a fairly peripatetic career – are the perfect foils, understanding that to master the troglodyte stomp of garage rock, you’ve really got to able to play.

As usual, Congo celebrates his time with The Gun Club and The Cramps (tonight it’s She’s Like Heroin To Me and a phenomenal and unexpected Under The Wires respectively, the latter getting whoops from the faithful down the front) and the rarely acknowledged Latino influence on the original garage boom (the always excellent I Found A Peanut by Thee Midniters). New album La Arana Es la Vida is as wonderful as anything the Pink Monkey Birds have released and full pelt blasts through tracks like Psychic Future, Ricky Ticky Tocky and Magic Machine sound as good as the rest. As the set progresses, Congo’s between-song patter gets more campy and elliptical and the band get more pounding and relentless, building to a peak when the encore includes a driving run through of Gun Club gem Sex Beat.

After that, it takes style to finish off with a slow, romantic, Santo & Johnny-style instrumental, but then the Kid has style to spare.


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