Rychard Carrington reports on 3 Daft Monkeys, Gema Hadridge and Catrin O'Neill – The Junction, Cambridge, 2 December 2009

3 Daft Monkeys
Junction 2, The


Welsh singer Catrin O'Neill was charming, to a quite stunning extent. Her influences are traditional Welsh, Irish and Breton. Some songs are traditional (some in Welsh), and some self-penned. She performed a varied set with talent, grace and warmth, from tender love songs to drinking songs to tragic ballads. She sang beautifully and powerfully, accompanying herself on guitar and bodhran. Catrin, you're a star! Look out for her, readers, and her new album Nain's Kitchen.


A hard act to follow, but Gema Hadridge of Brighton did well, with a far more urban set of songs about the complex difficulties of relationships, delivered, with guitar, in a style reminiscent of Billy Bragg. Sensitive, articulate, powerful and young, Gema has the potential for considerable success.


What an uplifting set from 3 Daft Monkeys (literally, we were all jumping up and down as we danced). It's a challenge to describe the feel of their music without sounding pretentious. I could do the tired old thing of listing styles which are possibly influences, and then coming out with music journalist's cliche number one, ‘they refuse to be pigeonholed' (but I refuse to be so normal). Actually, live at least, their sound is more of a case of they've found a winning one, and they stick to it, to everyone's satisfaction, rather than engaging through variety. They've played a lot with The Levellers, and, musically and culturally, there's an affinity with that honourable band.


Okay, factually, 3DM are a trio from Cornwall, formed ten years ago, their main instruments being fiddle, bass guitar, and acoustic guitar. There's some flute thrown in occasionally, which always goes down well. Athene Roberts the fiddler is resplendently, colourfully dressed at centre stage. Her fiddle drives the sound, which is an infectious, resounding, strident one, very danceable in a thoroughly organic sort of way. To one side is the witty Tim Ashton, resplendent too with his hair dyed bright red, while on the other side is the bedreadlocked Jamie Waters, quietly sturdy in classic bassist fashion. The social critique of the lyrics adds rather than detracts from the feel of defiant celebration. They have the feel of a modern gypsy band, itinerant outsiders inspiring the population to do what we've forgotten actually comes so naturally. Being here was the alternative to watching telly, drinking in noisy modern bars, posing desperately in ghastly night clubs, etc. Well that's just my interpretation, but the performance felt not just thoroughly enjoyable but significantly so. We left feeling inspired and happy.


Writer: Rychard Carrington