The Blow Monkeys live at The Assembly Hall, Islington, London 28.10.2022
A good spot for a night out: Islington, between Angel tube to the south and Highbury and Islington tube to the north. A top range of pubs. I’m up here with gig buddy Dave (DPi) having last been to the Assembly Hall for a My Vitriol gig in 2019 and more details on the venue and some of the pubs around are in my My Vitriol blog.
One additional pub visit of note, on the way down from Highbury and Islington tube station, was to The Hope and Anchor. The legendary live album recorded here, including The Stranglers, is in a frame along with some other memorabilia.
We rock up to the Assembly Hall not long before it’s time for the main band, missing the support. Upstairs, the seated balcony, is all closed off tonight and we find some space down front left.
Back in the day I just heard those 80s Blow Monkeys’ singles but didn’t listen to the albums. It was only when seeing them in 2017 at The 100 Club that I realised how much they had to offer. That was just after The Wild River was released – a great album which I play regularly. I have caught them since when they supported OMD in Bournemouth. I wouldn’t have made a special trip for this but we are in town for The Damned tomorrow.
The band has all its original members, having split in 1990 and reformed in 2007. It is all very centred on Dr Robert as the vocalist, guitarist and songwriter – he has had a solo career – but some great musicians in the band, the most eye and ear catching being the saxophonist and keyboardist Neville Henry. The sax is such a defining part of any song it features in. The strong sax and high impact drumbeats, added to with bongo drums gives added depth to the Blow Monkeys’ pop-rock tunes.
Singles Digging Your Scene and It Doesn’t Have to be This Way, are the most recognisable and get big cheers when introduced mid-set.
It’s a really good sound in here – easy to focus on the different instruments but all the while Dr Robert filling the stage with his guitar and vocals.
Last song of the set is the title track of The Wild River. I’m pleased with that – it means the band see it as a special one – it’s not just me. (YouTube vid of that track at the 2017 100 Club gig I was at)
This is relaxed entertainment – good sounds – good auditorium – decent beer – great location – not too packed. I wasn’t expecting so much.
In the encores there is the gem of John Lennon’s Gimme Some Truth. Love that. Now it’s out and down to find Slim Jim’s Liquor Saloon. Thank you… The Blow Monkeys.