Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Gig Review: Ducking Punches Album Launch at The Monarch 3/3/16

The fourth of March saw the release of one of the most anticipated punk albums of the year - Fizzy Brain by Ducking Punches, on Xtra Mile Recordings. To celebrate its release, the Norwich based folk punks had an album launch show at the Monarch in Camden.

This was my first time visiting The Monarch and I was immediately impressed with the venue. The stage area is a very nice size, to be honest much bigger than I was expecting. There was also a nice sized bar and some pub seating at the back. This is a great place to go and see live music.

First up on stage tonight was a gentleman by the name of Tom Aylott. Normally Tom plays bass in some other bands but tonight he was playing solo. I'd not heard any of his music before so was unsure of what he would be like. When I know I'm reviewing a gig of somebody that I've not heard before I get a little worried that I won't like them and might have to write something negative. I hate ever writing anything negative about a performer because I certainly can't play an instrument or sing a song with any sort of ability. Fortunately though, I did enjoy Tom's performance. It was a one-man political punk assault that really caught my attention. Fantastic, passionate and energetic performance; I will definitely be looking out for more from him.

For the next act I'd set myself the challenge of not talking about his former band whilst reviewing his performance. It was Chas Palmer-Williams, performing songs from his debut solo album American Teeth, British Smile. I had the pleasure of seeing Chas perform solo live last year in Bristol but at the Monarch he had a full band with him for his set, including a drummer who’d spent the afternoon in A&E because he’d got some metal in his eye. Chas has always been an excellent entertainer on stage and performing his new folk-tinged punk this was no different. He had the audience in the Monarch in the palm of his hands, whether he was playing songs or just talking to them (at one point engaging in some banter with a drunk girl about GG Allin, One Direction and life). He really is not given anywhere near enough credit for his ability to write a fun, thoughtful and brilliantly crafted pop song. Some of the imagery in the lyrics is quite abstract but always really relatable. I really enjoyed the new album but hearing the songs live with a full band took my enjoyment of American Smile, British Teeth to a whole new level. The fact that Chas is still writing and performing at such a high level makes me miss Lightyear just a little less. (I tried!)

Next up was the nights headline act - Ducking Punches. To me, the night not only felt like an album launch for Fizzy Brain but also like a celebration for Ducking Punches’ tireless work as a DIY punk band eventually earning them a spot on one of the most respected record labels in the UK's alternative music world. Fizzy Brain has been on constant rotation on my iPod since I first got the mp3s late last year and I've been waiting for what seems like an eternity to finally hear them live. Obviously they did not disappoint. Songs such as Greedy Bones, Fun Fun Fun, It's Not Over Yet Friends, God Damn Coward, Taking Back The Living Room (which sees bass player Sophie take lead vocals) and Fizzy Brain are all fantastic additions to Ducking Punches’ live set. It was great to see a lot of people singing along to the new songs too. Album launch shows can sometimes feel a bit flat if people don't know the new songs yet so this was a great surprise and just added to the atmosphere and the songs. Of course older songs such as It's Been A Bad Few Weeks, Six Weeks and the huge sing-a-long Big Brown Pills From Lynn all got great receptions too, but the night really was all about the new stuff. Ducking Punches frontman Dan Allen writes some of the most honest and heartbreaking lyrics I've ever heard but hearing them sung live gives them somewhat of an uplifting quality. I imagine it's very therapeutic for the band as well as the crowd. When I watch live bands I always look to see if the band look like they are enjoying themselves and that was certainly the case at the Monarch. Watching the band I noticed guitarist Cal and drummer Pete singing along as loud as they could despite not having microphones. Ducking Punches are a band full of honest, hard-working musicians with a lot of passion and love for their music and an unlimited amount of talent. With a big European tour with Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls on the horizon 2016 will no doubt be the biggest year for Ducking Punches so far. Buy Fizzy Brain and go see Ducking Punches live!

Go and buy Fizzy Brain here: