Monday, November 2, 2015

King King - Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, 31 October 2015

The Rothes Halls in Glenrothes seems like an unusually comfy environment for King King’s only Scottish gig on their current tour. Big stage, plush raked seating for about 600 – and seems pretty much like a full house.  A sign of things to come? There’s a definite sense that they’re going for it just now.  With airplay on Planet Rock Radio, and a support slot with Thunder scheduled for the New Year, they seem ready to break out of the blues fraternity and reach a wider rock audience.
And good luck to them.  This show confirmed my impression – as if I needed convincing - that King King are not just a great band, they're a singular band.  It might seem daft to say this about a band with a big guy in a kilt as their front man, but there’s no flash about them.  It’s all about substance.  So
King King - Blinded by the light
Wayne Proctor may be an award-winning drummer, for example, but that isn’t a reflection of pyrotechnical percussion.  Lindsay Coulson similarly doesn’t feel the need to seek the spotlight.  What King King are about is making the song, and the feel, paramount.  Alan Nimmo may carry the identity of the band, but it’s a “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” thing.
Tonight’s show spans all three of their albums, kick-started by ‘Lose Control’ from their debut.  But the emphasis has understandably shifted to Reaching For The Light since their spring tour when it wasn’t yet released.  There are early outings for the brooding ‘Rush Hour’ and the booming ‘Crazy’, but the twin peaks in the middle of the set are ‘Take A Look’ and ‘Lay With Me’, when their control of light and shade is at its most gripping, the latter in particular building beautifully from Bob Fridzema’s delicate piano opening.  They get right beneath the skin of these songs, finding their essence.
And this is when Alan Nimmo comes to the fore, not just with his warm, soulful vocals, but stepping out beyond the monitors to let rip on guitar.  But this isn’t ego-trip axe-heroism.  It’s playing that comes from the heart not the head, and at times Nimmo gets ‘out there’ to a place that feels – oh, fuck it - downright transcendental.
Keeping up that level of intensity is impossible, so the upbeat ‘Hurricane’ and even Frankie Miller’s ‘Jealousy’ feel brisk by comparison.  But they whip up a heady brew of funk on ‘All Your Life’, and set closer ‘Stranger To Love’ is the new home for Nimmo’s ‘quieter than a quiet thing’ solo party piece.
I have just one complaint.  In a recent interview Alan Nimmo said that he wanted to see if he could “write a song that you’ll still listen to in thirty years”.  Newsflash Alan, you have done – or co-written it at least.  It’s a stone-cold classic called ‘Long History Of Love’, and though the time may come when you want to rest it, that time isn’t now.
Never mind. They encore with ‘Let Love In’, getting the crowd out of their seats for a bout of communal stomping, clapping, and singing along.  Bigger audiences than this may be doing the same in a year or so. 

Opening for a band like King King is both a blessing and a curse, but Rebecca Downes and her band make a decent fist of it.  The lady has a decent set of pipes, the declared Maggie Bell influences coming across in bluesier fashion than on her more soul-leaning album of last year, Back to the Start.  The subtle but lively ‘Basement Of My Heart’ is a standout here as it is on album, but I’d have liked to hear them give a decent workout to ‘When I’m Bad’ as well.  Touring with King King they’ll hopefully learn how to add more dynamics to their presentation, and grow from there.

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