Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Gig Review: Ducking Punches at The Monarch 26/1/17

Continuing our two nights of Independent Venue Week, we made the trip to Camden to visit The Monarch. Home to many Xtra Mile Recordings nights, this one was headlined by a firm favourite of Colin's Punk Rock World, Ducking Punches, along with The RPMs and Non Canon.

Non Canon was up first. He was someone I wasn't familiar with but soon found myself captivated by. Beginning his set by gently plucking at his guitar he quickly got the audience's attention before playing a string (no pun intended) of beautiful acoustic music. Clearly very comfortable and at home on stage, he was equally entertaining between the songs as he was when he was playing. The highlight of the set, and I would wager it will be one of the gig highlights of the entire year, was when he played his final song, Memory Beta. The finale of the song features the lyrics "I'm Not Admitting Defeat, I'm Defying It." And this powerful line is repeated over and over and over. At The Monarch Non Canon got the whole crowd to sing along and it was a moment that certainly moved me. A fantastic way to start the night.

Up next were another band I didn't know at all, The RPMs. I soon discovered this three piece played a brand of rock 'm' roll pop songs with a skill and professionalism that seemed way and above their young age. The band's lead singer and guitarist, Jack Valero, in particular stood out as an extremely talented young man, playing his guitar expertly and really getting the crowd on his side. It felt like the crowd, barring one particularly excitable gentleman stood beside me, were a little hesitant in getting too involved with the band to begin with but soon enough Valero had us clapping, waving our arms, line dancing and singing along. For their song I Don't Like It, which is described as a multipurpose protest song, they had a couple of placards which they got members of the crowd to wave. I'm interested to see just how far The RPMs go in their musical career. I feel like they could be one of those bands where I can say "I saw them at The Monarch" before they are headlining massive arenas.

Now it was time for the mighty Ducking Punches. Late last year the band announced that Serge, Cal and Sophie were leaving the band, so this was a brand new version of Ducking Punches. In fact it was their very first performance as this version of Ducking Punches. New bass player Ryan and guitarist Marcus had only had a couple of practices between them but it really didn't show as Ducking Punches played a fantastic 40 minute set comprising of songs from Dance Before You Sleep and, the Xtra Mile, release Fizzy Brain. Ducking Punches frontman Dan Allen, who had also swapped his acoustic guitar for a beautiful electric started the set with a nice surprise by playing Secrets from his self-titled debut release. I really enjoyed the fuller sound it had with an electric guitar rather than the normal acousticness of the song. This all new electric version of Ducking Punches really packed a punch whilst still retaining all of the emotion the songs had with the more folk/acoustic style of previous Ducking Punches. The fact that the songs are still as good as ever despite the shift in sound is a big testament to the strength of Dan's song writing. Closing the show as ever with fan favourite Big Brown Pills From Lynn, which had the whole (sold out) crowd singing along at the end, completed a great night of music from the Xtra Mile family. I loved this new version of Ducking Punches and I can't wait to see just how good they become with more practices and shows under their belt. It won't be a long wait to see them again as they'll be at Manchester Punk Festival and will be returning to The Monarch as part of their April UK tour as well.