More Than Normal/2 Sick Monkeys/John Q Public - Live @ Dolls House, Abertillery, UK 16th January 2009

First gig of the year for 2009, and it's a trip to a newly opened live music venue in my old hometown (you can almost hear ole pube head singing about Green, Green Grass and Trains) of Abertillery.
The cultural capital of North Gwent, has previously played host to such glam and punk legends as "Richie Scarlett", "UK Subs", and "The Stranglers" and is due an upcoming whirlwind visit from "Adam Bomb", so it's no stranger to live RAWK.
Its such a shame then that on a squally January night people seemingly can't be bothered to pay £5 to see three bands in their local.
Credit Crunch? Fuck that, and don't dare mention that phrase in earshot of "2 Sick Monkeys" Frontman "Pete Tower" or he'll "rip yer 'ead off".

So with an almost rehearsal type situation unfolding it's local-ish lads "John Q Public" who kick events off in lightning quick fashion. The previously monikered "May Contain Nuts" have been building something of a name on the UK Punk scene so this recent change in name may see them take a small momentary step sideways. The music however is as fast and melodic as before and just like their heroes, "Bad Religion" and "The Misfits" they charge through an energetic set of tunes grinning like Cheshire cats. One to watch out for in the future if tracks like "The Way" are the shape of things to come, and in frontman "Sam Holland", "John Q Public" have a new age "Mike Patton" in the making.

So as the Strongbow starts to kick in its perfect time for Swindon upstarts "2 Sick Monkeys", and never has a band name been so perfect a description of what you are about to receive. Driven by a hammering bass and drum section, this two-piece spit out political punk just like the second wave of punk bands did almost thirty years ago. Imagine a "Venom" rehearsal around the time of Black Metal and someone's forgotten to pick "Mantas" up from the local barbers where he was getting his moustache trimmed. Got that image? Well, you won't be too far away from the thunderous noise this band generates. Tracks like "Fuck Off" certainly can't go wrong when delivered with the charm and whit that frontman "Pete" has by the truckload.

As headliners "More than Normal" have travelled almost the width of the UK to be at this gig, you'd almost forgive them for going through the motions, but that thought certainly doesn't ever appear to have crossed their minds. Their rip riding fifty-minute set simply whizzes by in a blur of sweaty street punk anthems custom built for 2009. Guitarist and Vocalist "Ben" is already as enigmatic a frontman and the bands ability to write catchy choruses like that on show on "Blank Cheque" should see them gaining mucho positive press when their new album is released on "Dent'all later this month.
Eavesdropping in on some of the other punters around me, they were furiously comparing "More Than Normal" to a certain "Green Day", but I couldn't get the image of a bastardised version of "The Living End" crossed with "Dag Nasty" out of my head, which is fine and dandy in my book. I'll certainly be looking for "More Than Normal" on the upcoming gig sheets on this showing.

In essence this was always a night designed to deliver something that little bit special, and "the three bands for a fiver offer" was certainly a recession busting v.f.m package that many of Abertillery's scenesters will furiously claim to have witnessed in years to come.

Fuck fashion and support your local scene boys and girls. Now exactly where were you hiding when that storm broke?

by Johnny H.

Visit the More Than Normal Website