Daniel Armstrong and the Monsoons – Tuning Fork, 27 May 2022: Concert Review

Daniel Armstrong and the Monsoons played enthralling and unsettling Power Pop for just over an hour at the Tuning Fork tonight. They conjured up that atmosphere immediately, with an old American Songbook classic, Dream a Little Dream, to start the show. 

Stars shining bright above you, as the familiar favourite of Ella Fitzgerald morphs into What’s in Your Pocket? off last year’s album Everything Is as It Shouldn’t Be. Music that is charged and tense, meant to raise the hairs on the back of your head.

Daniel Armstrong has a piercing melodic tenor that appears to cut cleanly like a scalpel, exposing the dark elements of the psyche. That puts him in the company of Alex Chilton in his Big Star days, or the likes of Thom Yorke from Radiohead.

The Monsoons are with him tonight; Alex Rau keyboards, David Hampton drums, James Brook bass and Odessa Neilands acoustic guitar and backing vocals.

This band, like everyone else has been through incredibly fraught times with postponements and cancellations around the heavy pandemic restrictions. The drummer just making it for the tour having been down with Covid recently. That would seem to lend an edge to the emotional involvement of the leader tonight. The best response is to channel that dread and charge ahead.


RipshipOpening the evening are a drums and guitar-with-synth duo, Ripship. Eva-Rae McLean is the artillery and Callum Lincoln, looking like a Ned Flanders cut loose from the great Okilly Dokillys of Phoenix Arizona, the strings and gadgets.

They’re a White Stripes-fashioned noise outfit which lay out a type of Sci-Fi Neo-Metal immersive experience, including Vocoders and loops.

In a short set they channel diverse elements as they generate heat from their thrash metal.

Ripship is Online has the pyrotechnics of what you would expect in a good Anime movie.

A tune called Fearsome Engine sounds like radiation with waves and washes of gadget-sourced humanistic music. They are running to embrace the coming AI.

There is an album gestating, ready for its mutant birth and Spyre is a track off that. A one chord Metal thrash creating a nice drone energy.

Moore’s Law has Middle Eastern melodies, so of course links back to Dick Dale, who is also a Godfather of Metal along with being King of the Surf Guitar. That makes it a soothing drone until the electronic banshees and guitar wail to take it out.

Their last song which is probably Insufficient Data is their sound being compressed and firing off in all directions. Melodic and thronged. Power Pop Metal? Black holes evaporating in diffuse heat. The subject is sci-fi and ecology and from deep inside the vocoded voice of Multivacc appears.

Interesting band to keep an ear out for.

Late To Chelsea

Late To ChelseaFour-piece Punk band from Auckland, who certainly don’t take themselves too seriously and have a great time on stage.

Sam Ashton bass, Jack Horsnell lead vocals and guitar, Dave Hubert rhythm guitar and Jack McKenzie drums.

As with many of the current Punk bands, they have incorporated what could be called Nu-Metal. Second song in and they thrash out a lyric about taking drugs with your friends. Vocals like an Oi band, guitar licks resemble Black Sabbath and they call it Fuck it! Of course it is!

Good old blunt force on all the songs, but they do slow things occasionally for some Pop melody to shine briefly before it gets a good kicking.

One which starts as Hey!Hey!Hey! and that’s basically most of the words. Has that Ramones style as would have been sung by Dee Dee.

A cover of the Chats song Pub Feed is a nod to Australia, also originators of great early Punk.

They vent on insects. A song about centipedes, and the closer called Fuck Wasps! Black and yellow/ Death from above/ That is one creature I do not love!

Guitars sound angry and buzz appropriately.

Daniel Armstrong and the Monsoons

Daniel Armstrong and the MonsoonsThe brand-new single The Company is a highlight. It’s upbeat and Pop but with the harmony vocals from Neilands, it has a folk heart.

Armstrong is possibly at his core a Folkie of sorts. He plays solo on Somebody’s Fool. A sweet, ringing guitar line and the singer is wistful and heartbroken.

Also on one which may be called Look at You, it starts out edgy and tense referring to the nightmares in my head. But then the guitar riffs eventually calm things down and the voices end on a Folk sound.

Tell Me Where to Stand is a new song given a workout tonight, and is in a similar vein.

Board Games comes from the first album, and on stage it is given some extra drive and sounds like that style of Punk with an off-beat Reggae accent that the Clash excelled at in their early days.

There are times when the band will lock into extended Velvet Underground style drones and guitar drags. We also hear some Americana in the sound montage.

The closing song The King has all that and takes off splendidly. A Sunday Morning meditation song which starts with caffeine and ends in the depths of a psychodrama linking it to that difficult masterpiece, Big Star and their Sister Lovers album.

Daniel Armstrong and the Monsoons can get tense and melodramatic on many of their songs, as they dwell in the darker depths of the psyche. But that’s what we need, as artists make some sense for us in these interesting times.

Rev Orange Peel

Click any icon to view a gallery of all the artists.