Your reviewer found himself in a car with legendary guitarist Kid Congo Powers in Austin a few months back during SXSW, and was able to ask a few of those questions about his time with The Cramps and The Gun Club that you never to get ask… The dapper and genial Mr Powers, now approaching his mid-fifties, is a link to one of the last ages of rock and roll mythology, with both Lux Interior and Jeffrey Lee Pierce having left this earth. And tonight’s show at White Trash embraced that mythology, and celebrated the songs of that era, whilst moving forward with a modern take on classic garage and its gonzo subject matter.
Coming through to Berlin with his band the Pink Monkey Birds on the occasion of his actual birthday, it seemed fitting that he revisited songs from his youth. Of the three Gun Glub numbers introduced as ‘songs that Jeffrey taught me’, ‘Jack On Fire’ had a stunning ferocity that was the highlight of the set, with ‘She’s Like Heroin to Me’ getting this crowd singing and dancing and a finale of ‘For The Love of Ivy’ on the verge of falling apart in its intensity.
Inevitably, the Kid lacks JLP’s anguish howl of a voice, with lively interpretations of ‘I’m Cramped’, ‘Green Fuz’ and “Lose Your Mind’ complementing his own new material more. With each of these song introduced with a snappy one liner and references to cult figures like Susan Tyrell, songs like “What if the Killer was Phyllis Diller?” motor along without the pace dropping thanks to the superbly tight musicianship of Kiki, Ron and Jesse. A song about “Floor Length Hair” echoed The Fall’s own take on 60s gonzo riffs and and the driving instrumental ‘Double Trouble’ had a groove that brought the basement club alive.
Ultimately, in an age of endless and unsatisfying reunions of classic groups, this was a nostalgia free show, as Powers continues to write songs and play them with an engaging zeal, keeping those old songs as fresh as the new ones, the audience for which will therefore hopefully never decline.