Saturday, 18 February 2012

Review: Monica & The Explosion - Live at The Grey Lady Music Lounge Royal Tunbridge Wells February 08th

Monica & The Explosion - Photo by Paul Slattery
A nice little excursion to picturesque Tunbridge Wells to catch my first Monica and The Explosion show and it was well worth the trip. I'd been impressed by the album "Shut Up!" so was really looking forward to seeing how the songs would come across live. Although on the album they enlist a drummer, recently the band have been performing with the rather unconventional two-piece line-up of Monica on Vocals and Acoustic Guitar and Paul Slack on Bass. Any reservations on how this will work are soon dispelled as Monica & Paul take the stage and launch into their first song titled (I think...) "Heart".

Monica & The Explosion - Photo by Paul Slattery
Monica strums away energetically on her guitar, laying down a solid rhythm and Paul's inventive bass lines add a swing to the songs so you soon forget the lack of drums or percussion. Next up is one of "Shut Up!"'s stand out tracks "Take It Or Leave Me" followed by the excellent "Ran Away". Monica is a great performer, full of energy and charisma and there is a natural chemistry between her and Paul that makes for a very engaging show.

Monica & The Explosion - Photo by Paul Slattery
"That's It" from "Shut Up!" is another highlight but it's new track, the superb and emotional  "Volcano" which is my personal favourite of the night. In fact most of the set is made up of new songs from their, as yet untitled, forthcoming album. Monica and Paul will head to the studio in early March to start recording tracks and it is promising to be a great record judging by the excellent songs peformed tonight. The too-short set is ended by "I Wanna Go Home", which is a rousing finale, the gig was over but we're left with the promise of much more to come in the future from this great band.

Monica & The Explosion - Photo by Paul Slattery
We had a chat with Paul and Monica after the gig and both were extremely friendly so I hope to do a more in-depth feature for the Retro Man Blog and Retrosonic Podcast soon. I was also very chuffed to have a go on Paul's bass, the very one that he wrote the inspirational riff to the U.K. Subs classic "Warhead" on...I was transported back to the early 80's when I learned to play bass hammering along to "Warhead"...in fact my band performed a cover of it during our very first gig in our school hall...so I was very honoured! Nice for photographer Paul Slattery to meet Paul Slack too, they hadn't seen each other for many years since Slatts took some of the first iconic photos of the U.K. Subs original line-up.

Monica Welander and Paul Slack, Monica & The Explosion - Photo by Paul Slattery

I must also mention the great work that Paul Dunton put in to organising the night and it was really encouraging to chat and find out all he is doing to promote local music. The Grey Lady Music Lounge was also a very nice venue to see acoustic based music. Not the sort of genteel venue Slatts and I usually find ourselves in on our quest for raw Rock 'n' Roll...but the friendly atmosphere was wonderful. Please check out and support Paul Dunton's events if you are local.

Monica and The Explosion will head off to Germany in March after recording their new album and then play an extensive tour in France in April and May. Check their Gig page here for all the latest news on dates and venues.

Also, keep your eyes on the Retro Man Blog for exclusive news of a special gig at the end of June...!

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