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Live review: Monotonix

The Well, Leeds Sunday, November 29

Live review: Monotonix

Last time we witnessed the Monotonix party experience – elsewhere in Leeds, earlier this year – their debauched rock’n’roll antics captivated and molested a capacity crowd. Shirts came off (band, crowd, male, female), instruments got played in the audience and on the bar, noise and chaos – a classic rock show – ensued. Basically, we found out exactly why the trio had been banned from doing shows in their hometown of Tel Aviv. But sweaty, hairy men gargling beer and ripping their
tops off is pretty much standard behaviour on a Saturday night in these parts, so how would the controversial Israeli punks fare in a less-than-full, slightly-more-restrained Sunday night environment?

The answer is pretty darned well, thank you very much. See, even though there’s more of a fleeing than flailing vibe in the crowd as they take to The Well’s floor (not the stage… they don’t do stages), it takes little more than the opening strains of the first number for band and crowd to get into the groove. And what is the Monotonix groove, exactly? Well, it involves howler and chief party-starter Ami Shalev spraying everybody with mineral water (that’s just the warm-up: he soon moves onto the hard stuff and empties a couple of pints of cider and black over drummer Haggai Fershtman before licking it out of his hair); it includes him picking up members of the audience at random and throwing them
over his, and the drummer’s shoulders; it culminates in the band and audience, as one, careering around the venue, as if led by some malevolent spirit – probably Jäger – towards… well, nothing, really. It’s fun for fun’s sake, and it works because, as with bands such as Les Savy Fav, it’s a hell of a lot more engaging than watching a bunch of gnarled old men gurning over strings on a stage.

It certainly isn’t rocket science, more throwback garage-rock, but the very fact that they’re able to continue playing it with such ferocity and volume at the same time is undeniably praiseworthy. That they muster this sort of intensity and fervour on every night of the tour is unbelievable, but believe
it you must: NME’s seen them four times now, and every time has been like this. Some might say the idiots are winning here, and they might just be right. But foot-wide smiles don’t lie.

Rob Webb

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