Sunday, November 27, 2016

King King - Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, 25 November 2016

The boys are back in town, and it’s alright now.  King King came to the Queen’s Hall and rocked an enthusiastic crowd that needed no invitation to have a good time in their company.
Any concerns about the state of Alan Nimmo’s voice, after his recuperation from a throat operation caused the cancellation of numerous dates, can be set aside.  He treads carefully on a couple of lines in set opener ‘Lose Control’, easing himself in, but that doesn’t last long.  He may be under doctor’s orders to take it easy, but that doesn’t compromise his vocal performance here.
Alan Nimmo - kilt-swinging blues-soul-funk-rock brother 
The set list mirrors the recent live album, with the omission of ‘Crazy’, and the audience lap it up, asses getting shook on the funky R&B of the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ ‘Wait On Time’, and lungs getting a workout during the singalong on ‘Rush Hour’.
It’s not just about audience participation though.  Alan Nimmo’s guitar solo on ‘Long History Of Love’ may essentially be the same as on the last tour, but tonight it’s a spellbinding, gut-wrenching affair, giving you the feeling that it’s coming from somewhere deep down inside.  I reckon that sense of commitment, of a determination to invest the music with meaning, is a key part of their appeal.
They’re as tight as a duck’s proverbial of course, which helps.  Drummer Wayne Proctor plays a key part in this, although he goes about his business so unobtrusively he may not get the attention he deserves.  He doesn’t just hold things together, he punches things home, giving the twists and turns of their arrangements maximum impact.
Their material also makes them stand out from the herd.  Calling King King a blues-rock band is simplistic.  Their roots may be in the blues, and Alan Nimmo may love classic rockers, but their sound has more facets to it than that.  ‘More Than I Can Take’, for example, is a rock song fashioned out of funk with added corners and sharp edges.  And Nimmo’s ear for a melody and warm voice naturally lead down soulful avenues, to a crossroads where the likes of Deacon Blue and Paul Carrack collide with hard rock.  Welcome to King King, your neighbourhood blues-soul-funk-rock stars.
Mind you, the blues and rock elements are still important, and ‘Stranger To Love’ captures
Wayne Proctor - bringing the big beat
their essence beautifully.  It’s full of passion and dynamics, with a blistering guitar solo that shifts down into ear-straining quiet notes, during which chatterers at the back of the hall are swiftly encouraged to shut up by their neighbours.
All that’s left after that is the kilt-swinging funk of encore ‘Let Love In’, a cue for more dancing and one last bout of audience singing.  There are doubtless newcomers in the hall, but it’s clear that not many of this crowd are casual spectators – they know every word, follow every note.  Sometimes Alan Nimmo looks around the hall, and I sense he’s drinking it in, checking that all these punters really are there for them.  He’d better get used to it – King King are on the verge of something big.
Support band Broken Witt Rebels don’t have King King’s maturity, but they’ve got no shortage of youthful energy.  As they launch into the anthemic opener ‘Low’ singer Danny Core’s sandpaper voice grabs you warmly by the throat, and as a front man he isn’t backward in coming forward.  They may lack subtlety at times, but beneath the bombast they throw some neat flourishes into their arrangements, and ‘Guns’ in particular demonstrates that they can produce a good hook.  It’s all very Kings Of Leon, and they undoubtedly have an audience, evidenced by the air punching and shouts of ‘Up the Rebels!’ in some quarters.  The hipster haircuts and facial hair bemuse me, but then I’m an old git, and I’m sure the little girls will understand.


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