A Quick Introduction
Scottish hard rock/blues band King King came home at the end of the first leg of the tour supporting their latest album Maverick playing The Queen’s Hall, a reformed old church that has been a music venue late 1970s and early 80s.
The band had played 6 shows already on the run over 9 days so were truly up and running after a very long layoff due to Covid19. They explained that this was their first Scottish show since then and they were so pleased to be once again on home turf (at least for one member it truly is, for others it is Glasgow around 40 miles along the M8 motorway) in Scotland.
A very healthy crowd turned up on a Sunday to support the band which singer and guitarist Alan Nimmo expressed on behalf of the band how grateful they were. The venue asks for all fans to show vaccine passports which meant that most folks felt more comfortable taking off masks during the show which helped the noise of the singing from the crowd, and what singing was done! A King King show is not just about great blues playing hard rock but also fun as Alan is quite a character, a very convivial host, regaling the crowd with stories and quips along with a huge smile for most of the show. Some of the song introductions were hilarious and he isn’t scared to deal with folks shouting from the crowd.
Reference Points Perhaps?
The setlist of course featured the new album heavily with 6 of the 14 tracks played tonight being from it. The rest of the songs were drawn from the previous 3 with emphasis on their second and third albums (nothing from the first on this tour) so we got a little of all their flavours and styles. Some songs are classic hard rock ala Bad Company, an easy reference point also due to Alan‘s vocal style and sound, whilst others are almost AOR and of course, some are 100% blues. I admit I have a thing for the longer bluesier pieces due to his skill and dexterity, and most importantly his feel on the guitar.
Onto The Songs Played
The band came on to the sound of AC/DC‘s “Highway To Hell” which of course the crowd were happy to pick up on the chorus. After that first chorus, the band merge directly into their opening song “(She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’” from the Exile & Grace album from 2017 (the only song from that album on the night) which is a fine classic hard rock singalong which gets the blood pumping.
Funny enough this has a Thunder vibe, a band which they have previously toured with, and Bad Co. It has groove aplenty and folks in the crowd were moving along and dancing on the floor. “One Word” he explained, was written during lockdown whilst he pondered what would happen to our world going forward. He followed that with “and this is the nonsense I came up with” leading to laughter. The way he went from serious reflection to humour, managing serious issues but not putting a downer on folks was clever. His humour is quite self depreciative which is quite a Scottish trait. The song he explained was about “togetherness“. This was the first song that the keys of Jonny Dyke come through very clearly in the sound (at least where I was standing) which was pleasing. In fact, the keys/organ are an integral part of their sound.
Fun With The Newbies
Before “Waking Up,” he asked if there was anyone in the crowd seeing the band for the first time. There was quite a few newbies so he had some fun with them asking where they had been all this time. He said he formed the band at 17 followed by “3 years ago” which caused laughter. He suggested that all the newbies should follow the rest of the crowd for what to do during the song. From my spot looking around it seemed they did as the air was a sea of hands clapping along. It was immediate. The song (like a few others) has a funky feel and very danceable and a very easy chorus to get involved in.
When it comes to audience participation “Rush Hour” is the business. The song itself starts with Jonny on keys with Alan joining in for a bit so it is like a 2-piece band that shows off his voice very nicely. The riff kicks in and we are off with the crowd belting out the “wo-ahs” loud and proud. The grin on Alan‘s face in particular could be seen from outer space (probably!). When the song finished and the crowd started up the refrain again as he went for a drink (of tea apparently) it was met with the response of “you could bring a tear to a glass eye” from him.
Beautiful Moments On The Night
One of the best musical moments of the show was “A Long History Of Love” where both Jonny and Alan showed of their abilities soloing extendedly. “Sublime” was what I noted at the time. The way the audience were so utterly attentive during the most quiet moments spoke volumes to the quality of performance and the respect from the crowd of their abilities.
The mix of gentleness and rocking and riffing is just right and we were entertained by just over 11 minutes of blues at its very best. This reviewer has seen the band a few times and this was as good as I have ever heard it played. Wonderful.
They kept it more bluesy for the following song “You Stopped The Rain” which through the years was always dedicated to his big brother Stevie who is now part of the band (Stevie had a fight with cancer a few years ago). Tonight he dedicated it to a fan who he had been informed had just had the all-clear from her cancer. I think (as I understood it from my position) she wasn’t there but the person who contacted him was filming on their phone to show the lady later so he spoke directly to the phone in the air wishing her continued good health and to stay safe.
It was a beautiful moment which I am sure meant so much to that fan. Of course, the audience cheered at the news of her condition’s improvement as well as for the band taking the time to show support. This is another song that can be extended as it goes with soloing aplenty, with at one point Alan standing right next to his brother, almost as a private moment. Very touching I felt.
The last song of the main set “I Will Not Fall” was almost a moment everyone was waiting for when Stevie got to take centre stage showing everyone how good a guitarist he is as he played a blinder of a solo. The fact that the brothers are playing together again and in King King was something fans were delighted with when news broke, such is the regard that is held for him in the blues and rock communities.
After a short break the band returned, or at least the brothers along with Jonny to do “When My Winter Comes” which we were told was originally written for a movie soundtrack but wasn’t used (the crowd booed that decision). The idea was of someone looking back when we get older whilst being young looking towards what we might be like then. The general agreement with the band and crowd was we would all still be rocking when old. We will go “kicking and screaming” as we don’t want to stop! The harmonies were spot on (Stevie all evening was helping with backing vocals along with counter lines really adding to the textures) and again the crowd were in rapt attention. The rest of the band then rejoined the fray with some banter and abuse going on between Alan and drummer Andrew again causing laughter. They finally finished with an extended version of “I Will Not Fall” where Alan took time to thank everyone who helped on the tour including mention of support When Rivers Meet who opened the evening’s entertainment.
When Rivers Meet are (at least on this tour) a two-piece of husband and wife Aaron and Grace Bond who play a more roots blues in places with just one bass drum operated by Aaron with his foot. They certainly had a few fans in the crowd and as their set wore on definitely appeared to have added to them. They started with a chirpy ” Are you ready for this?” which was greeted with a resounding yes! Before “Walking On A Wire” Aaron chatted with the crowd explaining how the song is about not conforming and giving a little history to the band. It seems they got married but instead of buying a house purchased a “crappy little campervan” so they could play their music wherever was possible.
“Battleground” showed off the true power of Grace‘s vocals especially in the second half where she was unleashed. “Innocence Of Youth” saw the box guitar come out and they found the crowd responding to the beat clapping along, so much so Grace quipped “you guys are good at this“, I even heard a few folks near me singing along with the infectious chorus. They harmonised very well and impressed this reviewer to want to see them with a full band (if I heard them right) next year when they tour their second album due out November 19 this very year.
Once again King King delivered great music, performance and fun to an enthusiastic crowd. It would be impossible not to find yourself engaged by the bonhomie nature of the band as you hear bluesy, funky, soulful blues-rock music. They will be picking up again next February for leg 2 of the UK tour. If you live or are near York, Newcastle, Glasgow, Manchester, Sheffield, Cardiff, Birmingham, Bury St Edmunds and London then check them out. Support will be coming from The Damn Truth .
Purchase February Tour Tickets For King King HERE
Purchase May Tour Tickets For When Rivers Meet HERE
Check out my other articles and reviews here, Tom