Into Live Music Review: Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds
Date: 25 October 2023
“Life is short, filled with stuff”
As the lights went down and the three-piece took the stage, my eyes were immediately drawn to the dapper looking guy, strapping on his guitar with the mildest flash of curiosity in his eyes. A light pink linen suit and some kinda scarf/throw emblazoned with Bowie-esque lightning bolts, bespectacled and topped off with a Panama hat, no fucks clearly given, he was as cool as and we all knew it. That guy was Brian Tristan aka Kid Congo Powers. Once of The Gun Club, The Cramps and also a former member of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds. If you were playing musical Top Trumps, there’s not many who could ‘trump’ his CV score.
Congo greeted his flock with a smile, saying “Lord have mercy” and given this former Libertine’s life story you’d have to agree with the sacred sentiment. If you didn’t know, check out his excellent memoir Some New Kind of Kick which covers his life from running The Ramones East Coast fan club, coming out as a young, queer Chicano kid in mid 70’s L.A. to picking up a guitar in The Gun Club and his self-destruct addiction to drugs, coming out of the other side of rock and roll excesses to this ultimately welcome redemption. The fact that Congo did a show during the day at HMP Barlinnie for recovering addicts was telling: he’s been there and shows there is always a way out, a way forward.
Back to the gig then. To say it was full on from the start is an understatement. Psychic Future was sprinkled with fuzz guitars and booming drums, the kind of sound Glasgow’s The Primevals built a career on and why the hell not. Following hotly in its footsteps is Sean Delear, a post-punk nu-wave foot tapper.
“Lookin’ and lookin’ and lookin’, for something I ain’t had before“
So far so good. Then the double whammy of New Kind Of Kick and Goo Goo Muck, both synonymous with Congo’s time in The Cramps. The former features THAT dual guitar sound, the one he made famous with Poison Ivy and it was genuinely spine tingling hearing it and seeing it a mere few feet in front of me. The latter saw the crowd go suitably insane, dancing, mashing, moshing and generally losing themselves in the moment.
The set was a solid mix of touch points from Congo’s career and there were also new tracks played with a promise made to come back once the new record is released. The Spanglish Ese Vicio Delicioso went down muy bien with the crowd doing their best to remember the chorus and sing back. There was even a fifteen minute or so track on the shape of He Walked In, a real slow burner to start with, spliced with some free jazz style flute which, if I’m honest lost me for quite a bit. That said, once the flute was ditched, the twin guitars and the pounding drums led to a pure wig out that reached a sweaty and heady climax that was simply thrilling to hear.
“I’m lookin’ and lookin’ to find some new kind of kick“
There was no encore, purely for the fact the band didn’t want to waste a second so they could cram as much in as possible and that was fine with me and the crowd. The Gun Club tracks She’s Heroin To Me and Sex Beat featured and went down a storm as did the space rockabilly vibe of Bubble Trouble.
As gigs go, this was an utter triumph. Congo charming the crowd in between the songs, the audience packed out and up for it. Why? Because it’s Glasgow, that’s why. Now where the fuck can I buy a pink linen suit?