While some peo­ple play air gui­tar, I con­fess to air vio­lin moments. Ide­al mate­r­i­al for this innocu­ous pas­time: The Lev­ellers, Peat­bog Faeries, and Cor­nish trio 3 Daft Mon­keys. I first dis­cov­ered them at Tow­ersey in 2011, fol­lowed by an autumn gig at the Half Moon pub in Put­ney. And here they are back again, two years down the line, only this time play­ing to an infi­nite­ly big­ger crowd.

Vio­lin supre­mo Athene Roberts announces that she’s recent­ly had a baby, who appar­ent­ly is sleep­ing back­stage – obvi­ous­ly already get­ting used to life on the road. Athene has swapped her sexy Dick­en­sian corset and swishy skirts for a flam­boy­ant red satin dress with black net pet­ti­coats and fat lace-up boots. Part Cor­nish hip­py, a nod to Fla­men­co… well, you can prob­a­bly read into it what you like but her stage pres­ence is formidable.

“The songs cel­e­brate Corn­wall, its unique, strong­ly inde­pen­dent people”

The band have a new album out: Of Stones and Bones. The songs cel­e­brate Corn­wall, its unique, strong­ly inde­pen­dent peo­ple, its land­scapes, its mag­ic, myths and leg­ends. Vocal­ist and gui­tarist Tim Ash­ton is a great sto­ry­teller, espe­cial­ly when he recounts the tale of Agnes the Giant Killer – the first song on the new album. You feel you would love to just hang out with this band, go drink­ing with them at a coastal inn, fill­ing your head with mag­i­cal sto­ries and then wend­ing your way home­ward at break of dawn. My imag­i­na­tion may be get­ting the bet­ter of me, they may per­haps be in bed by ten with ‘new par­ent’ exhaustion.

The band take us through a mix of old and new songs, open­ing with Per­fect Stranger, mov­ing on to Civilised Debauch­ery, and then to some new mate­r­i­al includ­ing the afore­men­tioned Agnes the Giant Killer. Pop­u­lar dancey num­bers include favourites Para­noid Big Broth­er and One Fine Day. It may be now oblig­a­tory to include Days of the Dance so the audi­ence can break into a waltz.

What makes 3DM so appeal­ing is  their pas­sion and humour, and their will­ing­ness to exper­i­ment and forge their own strong iden­ti­ty, weav­ing a vari­ety of styles into the mix. There are strong ele­ments of gyp­sy and klezmer music through­out, inter­wo­ven with Athene’s vio­lin and drum­mer Richie Mul­ryne’s expres­sive drum play­ing, which is done with his hands. 3 Daft Mon­keys have a strong sense of the the­atri­cal, enforced by Tim Ash­ton’s vocals.

It was good to see the Half Moon audi­ence danc­ing with such aban­don, and I can only sug­gest that you get your­self down to one of the remain­ing gigs on this tour.

3 Daft monkeys "Of Stones and Bones" CD imagine

Half Moon Pub, Put­ney Tick­ets £12 on the door

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