Kid Congo Powers has guitared for the Cramps, the Gun Club and the Bad Seeds. Martin Longley caught him playing as himself.
Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds
Hare & Hounds
A holiday weekend led to a packed room, upstairs at the Hare & Hounds in the Birmingham suburb of Kings Heath, and a later-than-usual gig for a Sunday night. Preceding combos Table Scraps and Black Mekon successfully fired up the crowd with some suitably garage-rockin’ extremity, and the djs were spinning an enticing selection of Latin rock’n’roll exotica.
Kid Congo Powers established his reputation as a guitarist for The Gun Club and The Cramps, two of America’s finest diseased-rockaboogie purveyors. He alternated between those two bands, then joined Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds. For the last decade or more, the Kid has been concentrating on being a bandleader. The Pink Monkey Birds leapt into action, raw and loud, revelling in an exceptional mix that kept all the guitars equal in their distorto-whanging whammage. Powers has the body language of a funkster, but the tunes managed to ram garage rock and psychedelic pop together, shaping noise and hooky melodies into a demon extremity. Catching him previously, the set-list has mostly been made up of original numbers, but early on, the Kid threw in Ghost On The Highway and Garbage Man, two of the most representative songs from the Cramps and Gun Club catalogue, both given lovingly rucked-up incarnations. Powers looked casual, with he and his lead guitarist garbed in matching Kid Congo tour jackets, but his core was coiled, the solo trade-offs becoming increasingly deranged as the gig progressed, with even his bassist picking up a guitar at one stage, making a threesome wall of riffage. Short songs, compressed power and loose-limbed groove a-go-go!
Photo Ilse Lambert.