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Review: 3 Daft Monkeys, Gloucester Guildhall

Inflatable Buddha - image courtesy of Martin Svancar

I’d not heard much of 3 Daft Monkeys before we reviewed their latest self-released album The Antiquated & The Arcane a short while ago, but since then I’ve had the album on near-constant repeat and have fallen in love with their eclectic folk stylings. It was with some excitement, then, that I recently attended their gig at Gloucester’s Guildhall.

Arriving late due to a slight guestlist kerfuffle and having a bit of a chin-wag with an old friend in the bar, I missed the start of opening act Inflatable Buddha. It turns out that this was a major mistake on my part. Wandering in to find enigmatic poet/mandolin player Steve Larkin joking around with the crowd as naturally as if he were best of mates with everyone in the room, I was instantly hooked. Their particular brand of quirky folk punk was quite mesmerising to behold, a relentless energy surging from Larkin, and also double-bass player and co-vocalist Susannah Starling, through the remainder of their set. Particular highlights for me were ‘Clown’, a highly entertaining tail about a bi-polar, alcoholic circus worker which very clearly showcases the poetic nous that won Larkin 2004’s Spoken Word Olympics in Canada, and ‘Life Is Sweet’, which got the crowd well and truly warmed up through the liberal use of well-timed hoi‘s. A thoroughly enjoyable set, and I shall certainly be looking out for this 4-piece in the future.

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Review: 3 Daft Monkeys – The Antiquated & The Arcane

Tim Ashton, Athene Roberts and Jamie Waters, otherwise known as 3 Daft Monkeys, have been working on their blend of Balkan,├é┬áCeltic, reggae, Spanish, punk-infused folk for more than a decade now. They are, in a sense, the UK’s answer to the also superb American folk trio Nickel Creek, but though equally adept at crafting a heady mix of influences into folk songs, the 3 Daft Monkeys are also known for their ferocious and uplifting live shows.

Neither is it a mean feat for a folk band to have been as successful, not least because they have insisted on doing it without ever signing to a label. They have avoided mainstream attention and have committed to extensive touring and the hard work that goes along with it. It’s no surprise, then, to see their music developing with a bredth and maturity not often allowed in an industry that has grown used to bands, at the pressure of their labels, pumping out albums every 18 months.