It’s easy walking distance from our house to the Belle Vue, but it seems a lot further when it starts chucking down as one steps out of the door. However, having not seen Smokin’ Monkey for a wee while, I’d rather set my heart on this gig and so arrived at the pub a bit bedraggled, but in time for the first set. This started with a good old grind of chords and The Buzzcocks’ ‘Ever Fallen in Love’.
While avoiding playing their own songs, this four-piece – lead guitar, vocals, drums, bass – covers a wide style range from punk, through Ike and Tina Turner, to heavy metal. There was an overlap with my last musical preview of The AC/DC Experience with ‘If You Want Blood’ and ‘Dirty Deeds’, the latter in the second set. All songs are played rock solid with minimal embellishment but excellent musicianship. There’s plenty for everybody, if you like it loud that is. The band has a capable sound system and an effective light show to boot.
Back on the musical choice, has this been work-shopped out somehow? How else does Depeche Mode’s ‘Personal Jesus’ end up in the same bill as The Osmonds’ ‘Crazy Horses’? But then who cares, the crowd were going mad? ‘Monkey’ also play The Vapors’ ‘Turning Japanese’, one of my favourite one hit wonders, and also The Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary’, one of my all-time favourite tracks, and which I used to be able to do on the mandolin, for which I will forgive them almost anything.
It’s hard to fully express the adoration that this band inspires in its audience of all ages. They positively encourage audience participation, although with somewhat dubious musical results. Now that’s what I call not music! Clearly certain audience members had imbibed substantial quantities of ethanol-based beverages to get themselves in the correct mood, but that wasn’t the only factor in their genuine elation. One chap appeared to be channelling Iggy Pop, albeit not particularly successfully. Things got to a distinctly un-PC fever pitch at one stage, but there seemed to be little issue with the activity on display.
The set-list had changed since the last time I saw ‘Monkey’ so things do move on. I managed to bear off said set-list and it’s beside me as I write, displaying quite a few tracks in reserve. I’m ashamed to say there are few tracks I don’t know. As the band wound down to their encore, I was anticipating the ‘usual’ Rage Against the Machine’s ‘Killing in the Name’, but instead got Jeff Beck’s eternal hit ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’. Almost as good!
As I walked home through the night with my ears singing, the rain had just about stopped. It had been good to re acquaint with this fine, genuinely Blackpool-based band and its adoring fans.
To keep up to date with Smokin’ Monkey visit their Facebook page.
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