REVIEW: The Blow Monkeys, Eric’s, 7 July 2013

What a highly exhilarating gig The Blow Monkeys put on at Eric’s on a warm July evening. Over the years they have built up such a dynamic loyal following that were eager to hear old favourites and new tunes as well. They were a top draw act from the mid eighties till their split in 1990. Their infectious music went on to influence a string of artists through the 90s and beyond. Shaun McCoy, put on his funky shoes again and hot-footed it down to the Matthew Street venue to shimmy and sway with the best of them.

The Blow Monkeys not only delivered all their classic hits, they also showcased new material off their new album Feels Like A New Morning. The new stuff is as fresh as the material they stormed the music scene with the first time round. And it’s good to see them still exhibiting their original line-up – Dr. Robert (vocals and guitar), Neville Henry (saxophone, keyboards and harmonica), Mick Anker (bass) and Tony Kiley (drums).

They kicked off with two very fine new tracks Feels Like A New Morning and Oh My, two tracks that demonstrate their alchemistic range of funk-soul, modern jazz, fused with tinges of Latino sounding drums and the velvety vocal of Dr Robert, one the best in the business at providing a sophisticated soulful lead vocal.

The band also have a new best of compilation out entitled Halfway To Heaven from which they performed the songs they are renowned for such as Wait, a big hit for the band with Kym Mazelle. As well as the super funky-soul material The Blow Monkeys can bring the tempo smoothly down on songs like Heaven Is A Place I’m Moving To, an acoustic driven tune a la early Bowie featuring slick sax interludes.

The energetic rhythms and tight bass sound are up there with the best soul/funk bands. Mick Anker’s iconic bass playing drives the band’s music especially in their most notable songs such as Choice and their timeless classics It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way and Digging Your Scene. The Blow Monkeys style is akin to that of The Style Council and Chic, the latter sharing a standout rhythm guitar and bass sound.

They even do an excellent rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly which has the audience further dancing and swaying. The Blow Monkeys cook up a crescendo of super tight rhythms, thrilling brass and booming bass in abundance. They finished with another cover You Don’t Own Me from the film Dirty Dancing – a laidback soul track but with more attitude exuding from Dr Robert. It’s good to see the Blow Monkeys back on the scene because they have a hell of a lot to offer from their uniquely eclectic sound.

WORDS BY: Shaun McCoy


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