Mono Cafe Blue, Bristol
Friday 12 September 1997
Scheduling their debut gig as a promo job in a bijou Bristol bar, however, may have been a mistake. You wanted the kitsch discotheque scene from a Swinging London movie starring Sammy Davis Jr and Tony Curtis; what you got was a lot of liggers swigging free lager at the bar, with the performance of the band as a sideshow. Even to call them a band is to swing the lead a bit, as Mono represents that very Nineties pairing of the shady back-room knob-twiddler and the photogenic chanteuse, with main man Martin Virgo skulking at the keyboards while singer Siobhan De Mare has to command the front of stage all by herself. There was a band of sorts - a fairly anonymous trio of guitar, bass and drums - but most of the music seemed to come direct from Virgo's console. Fortunately, De Mare both sings quite beautifully and has enough charisma to make the lager boys disappear into a Funeral in Berlin-style fog.
They played the album, more or less, and while the boys in the band smoked fags and looked cool, De Mare supplied just the right combination of sex and vulnerability. On the best songs, you could close your eyes, listen to the sample from "Get Carter" or the floating melody of "Slimcea Girl" (their next single) and imagine that it was 1968 and you were Michael Caine. This is, admittedly, quite a specialised pleasure, but Mono provide a very affecting soundtrack all the same.
Mono's album `Formica Blues' is available now on Echo Records. The single `Slimcea Girl' is released on 22 September.
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