Live Review: 3 Daft Monkeys, The Bodega (4/12/14)

With over a decade of experience making music, touring the continent and delivering energetic performances, 3 Daft Monkeys arrived at The Bodega to bring their lively brand of acoustic alternative folk to the Nottingham contingent of their devoted following.

Although a very successful and well renowned group within folk scenes across Europe, 3 Daft Monkeys by no means have the type of sound that you might immediately associate with folk music. This is due largely to their wide range of influences, which is so expansive that many critics have come to label them as world music rather than simply alternative folk. With strains of Celtic influence, of Latino, of Electronic and even Punk, the Cornish three-piece harness the energy of this variety of genres to give a performance that is as theatrical and dynamic as it is raucously entertaining.


As is to be expected from a band with such experience and expertise, their show at once demonstrates their mastery of their instruments and sound as well as exploring – particularly in the songs from their most recent album Of Stones and Bones – themes of mysticism and folklore that has clearly had such a profound effect on the aesthetics of 3 Daft Monkeys. To a nautical backdrop, Tim Ashton, who provides vocals and the vigour of a twelve-string guitar, intersperses songs with tales of Cornish mythology and legend – add in Athene Roberts, playing the fiddle, clad in a dress modelled on a Mermaid, and it becomes clear that this is a group who revel in the eccentric. Include in this the high-tempo rhythms of bass-player Lukas Drinkwater, and of drummer Richie Mulryne, who, impressively, sees out the whole gig using his gloved hands rather than drumsticks (although it is unclear why…), the gathered crowd are treated to an evening of dancing, singing and general revelry.

[quote]This is a group who revel in the eccentric[/quote]

To a layman at a gig like this, the set is vibrant and enjoyable, though at times, and particularly during slower songs, somewhat repetitive, and the culture of mythology and superstition – though entertaining – rings of gaudy pantomime. To the dedicated follower of folk, however, it seems there is no pretension involved: the rapport between the band and the crowd is demonstrative of this. The imaginary tug of war that occurred throughout ‘The Tale of The Laziest Pirate’ generated raucous laughter. The instructions to grab a partner and waltz across the floor to ‘Days of Dance’ were well received. And the doting participation as the band pretend to wrap up, the cries for them to play another song even though it’s well before the curfew: you have to laugh along. The popularity of their shows is clear – the fact that they are still touring Of Stones and Bones more than a year after its release, and that it is still received so well, proves this.

James Noble

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