Thursday 29th January 2009
2 Sick Monkeys
When the strange character (looking like the spurned son of 70’s comic Bobby Ball- I piggin’ hate you, Tommy) burst onto the stage and screamed “Hello, Goodbye! We are havin’ a party… you’ll f**** love it!” the audience automatically started to protect their softer nether regions whilst backing carefully and slowly away in a wide-eyed and anxious state of alarm. Groomed hair was about to become dangerously ruffled, unsullied minds were about to be torn up and messed with, and the pretensions and mediocrities of living a comfortable and predictable life in Staines were about to be pushed violently aside in an anarchic attack upon our precious Surrey/Berkshire claims and soft eardrums. Then the chattering, rolling, thundering onslaught upon nerves and ears proceeded. And what a pleasure the pain truly was.
Pete Tower is the bass playing virtuoso mad-monkey frontman…a highly volatile incarnation of Ian Dury, combustible and highly unpredictable. He should be marked ‘danger UXB’ and placed in a lead-lined box for safety. Instead he is whirling around our pub like an out-of-control firecracker spitting and hissing like some cross between a banshee and a venomous python. He is smiling one minute- snarling and grimacing the next. He is up. He is down. He is enraged, he is calm. Hello, goodbye… he is all the things you hate and everything you love. He is like a one-man chemical reaction to everything you have to endure in this filthy world -releasing a spontaneous spume of exothermic energy into the cold night air.
Accompanying him on the drums is the one-man percussive army of Fred Nus whose style is so self-confident and aggressive that he would have triumphed single-handedly against the Persians at Thermopylae in 480 BC and would have told the 300 that they
were ‘as soft as shite’ and to ‘sod off back to Sparta’ because he has got it ‘all in hand’.
The band played a rollicking selection of what Pete called ‘jazz songs’ and he continued to insist (because nobody dared to argue with this profane mad-hatter mentalist, no matter how tongue-in-cheek) that 2 Sick Monkeys were a West Country Jazz band. But the rapid street level gutter punk-politics of threatening, gesturing and gurning were always there like a bad smell in the kitchen sink.
My favourite song in the 2 monkeys scrapbook was “Why” as in…”Why are we always making bombs? Why do we have to suck so much American cock? Why? Why Why?” Pete is like the Banksy of punk rock. Many of the 2 songs are nice n’ easy to follow … 2-bit 2-word choruses 2-chord riffs and 2 part formulas. But these stencilled 2-dimensional guerilla songs disguise an anti-establishment, anti-war and anti-capitalist profusion of rage and hysteria…albeit nicely packaged into neat and carefully presented tasty titbits for the world-weary consumer.
Pete is like the intellectually superior wino-vagrant that you see (but try to ignore) each morning in the shop doorway. Moist, dishevelled, smelly, rotten, revolting even; But he is genuine in a way that you are not. He is contented in a way that you will never be and- most importantly- he can chat his way out of things and rat his way into things in a way that you will never be able to copy. He uses an astonishing display of erudition that leaves you way, way behind …you are completely out of your class with this grinning , gymnastic, gold-winning, mindgaming street athlete and the mental stunts that he can perform.
I absolutely loved it that the 2 Sick Monkeys ripped apart the entrails of Green Day’s “American Hero” before flinging the remains of this ‘sacred song’ unceremoniously onto the dancefloor for the grovelling masses to recoil from in feign horror. The band interpreted this song ‘as played by Slipknot’ but I noticed that Fred Nus provided the true and clear Green Day chorus towards the end of the number. This was a tried-and-tested theatrical device that helped to alleviate the unconcealed pressure that was building up in the minds of loyalist punks everywhere and was successful in restoring the song back into the hearts of the punters as a worthy punk anthem.
The bass attack of Pete has to be seen to be believed. I am sure that I have never witnessed such competent, confident and yet furious bass-playing before. In normal circumstances virtuosity is frowned upon in the world of punk rock. But the credentials of this worthy band are intact because it is a two-piece and so, you tell yourself, Pete has to be a remarkable player…just to get the most from this limited set-up. The band bill themselves as ‘A small outfit with a big sound’ but this doesn’t do justice to the mighty accomplishments of these two West Country performers. The cider with rosie, wooden skittles and smell of sawdust is never far away- not surprising for a band from Wootton Bassett, Swindon but the two punksters-extraordinaire also project an authentic and very urban sound and style- almost as alienating and as it is intense
-feelgood punk sound as it should be.
A tactical assault on your sensibilities… walk the fine line between hope and despair with 2 Sick Monkeys as soon as you can… it is essential.
Feb 13 2009 8:00P The Victoria Swindon
Feb 14 2009 8:00P F*** Valentine The Grosvenor Stockwell
Feb 21 2009 8:00P The Victoria Deptford
Feb 27 2009 8:00P The Gaff London
Feb 28 2009 8:00P New Cross Inn London