Gig Review: Prince Tribute Show @ The Brass Monkey, Cronulla
Circa June, 2003
"Shit on the grass"
It was White Josh's birthday. He was still dating that shit girl at this stage. You know the one, talked my bloody ear off on that record-breaking two hours and eight minutes 2am drive from Canberra to Sydney while Whitey slept off an epic Raiders win in the back seat. Relentlessly yabbered on about her tongue piercing, her unfulfilling career, some new DVDs she bought. And suicide.
Josh didn't really want to do anything for his birthday, but we twisted his muscly arms into having a couple of beers after we finished our uncompetitive Sunday League soccer match. Whilst at the Engadine Arms Hotel Josh casually mentioned he'd seen a flyer for a Prince Tribute Show. Before you could say "he removed his ribs so he could give himself a Little Red Corvette" we were on our way to the venue.
For those fortunate enough to grow up outside the gated community/reality TV set commonly know as "The Shire", The Brass Monkey is a little bit like The Vanguard. For those fortunate enough to not know what The Vanguard is, think Adult Contemporary Jazz Hole. A great place to have a Cosmo with your mates, a below-average Shiraz with your Uncle Graham on his 50th and/or down a few overpriced low-carb ales while watching Meggy Washington belt out another hardship tale about spending the last of her record label advance down at the coin laundry.
When we arrived at the Brass Monkey many of the other patrons had settled in for the dinner/show combination, occupying the front few rows. Relegated to the back of the venue didn't bother us in the slightest, being the location of the bar, thus affording us the luxury of not wasting precious milliseconds in commuting to and from the place where Wendy The Bar Wench was pouring the Carlton Draughts. We'd skipped over the eating option entirely, being louts in our early twenties with single figure weekly pay packets. This was a decision that seemed to have negatively affected Danny "I'm crazy and I'd do Heroin" Woods, with his weak, 16-year old pre-pubescent frame starting to frail slightly under the barrage of Rapid Beer Consumption.
After the awkwardness of staff explaining to some of the dinner patrons that they'd have to sacrifice their prime seating location to make room for a dance floor, a dark velvet curtain slowly winched back to reveal "Prince" and the "New Sutherland Shire Power Generation". It was quite a sight. Eight-or-so middle-aged, dejected musicians, their faces unable to hide the expressions of uncomfortableness and genuine surprise that people were waiting for them to commence. The frontman was especially interesting. A middle-eastern gent with more missed child support payments to his name than actual paid musical performances, he strutted across to the microphone with an unshakable sense of pub-rock confidence, the kind of self-assurance exclusively garnered from a combination of Coolabah cask wine rider and decades of failure.
As the band belted out their first song (probably 1999), White Josh exploded into his usual epileptic funk dance style, flailing his limbs around and sweating out buckets of consumed lager. He kept up this relentless perimeter-enforcing gyration for the entire 45 minute set.
Precise memories on how well the band played, what they played and/or the exact number of divorced, middle-aged ladies we grinded up next to is a little unclear. I do remember it being a bloody great show though, or at least, worth the $8 cover charge. The band closed out their (encore?) set with a ripping cock-rock rendition of Diamonds and Pearls. Josh took his shirt off, swirling it around his head to show his appreciation. Moments later he declared this the best birthday he'd ever had.
On the way out Danny Woods vomited sideways into a bin. It defied all of the conventional rules of physics and still to this day is one of the more amazing things I have ever witnessed.