Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Taking the Low Road - King King on tour in the Netherlands, Part 1

Dateline: 10 February 2017     Venue: MEZZ, Breda

It’s tea time in Breda, in the Southern Netherlands, and big snowflakes are falling gently amid the quaint architecture of the town centre.  You might call it damned cold, but it’s a bit of a winter wonderland.  What better way to start a weekend following King King on a spin round Holland?
There are a number of things to love about visiting the Netherlands.  For one thing, the locals generally speak excellent English, which is just as well, because while I’ll have a stab at French and Italian, even basic Dutch is way beyond my ken.  What’s more, they’re so
Alan Nimmo gets the blues
friendly and helpful.  As we sit in the warmth of the Le Petit pub, with a Hergot Jan beer for company, the owner happily points out that the venue for tonight’s gig, is just across the road.  It’s the same when we grab a pre-show burger over the street at VanCoot 13 – the waitress translates the menu, the burgers are excellent, and everything is done with a smile.
It’s all a satisfying precursor to the show in the sleek and modern brown cocoon that is MEZZ.  When support act the Sean Webster Band kick off proceedings, it’s apparent that the place has an impressive lighting rig, and the sound balance from the PA is crystal clear.
Webster and his four-piece band deliver a warm and soulful half-hour set, featuring plenty of his imminent new album Leave Your Heart At The Door.  Webster’s Joe Cocker-ish voice is well-suited to his line in plaintive blues rock, selling the lyrics with conviction, and he adds some tasty guitar to the likes of the strutting ‘You Got To Know’, while the rest of the band swing nicely behind him.
Suitably warmed up, the crowd are ready to let go from the moment Alan Nimmo crunches into his usual couple of guitar chords to trigger ‘Lose Control’, and King King are off and running.
The set largely follows King King Live, minus ‘Jealousy’ and ‘Crazy’, but with the moody ‘Take A Look’ added mid-set.  So we get three episodes of kilt-swinging funk in the course of night, starting with the ‘Wait On Time’, on which Bob Fridzema limbers up his digits with a
Sean Webster and gang pretend to be King King
surging solo.  Turns out that’s just a dry run for episode 2 though, because he delivers an absolute ripsnorter on ‘All Your Life’, which also features an ‘incredible shrinking duet’ on organ and guitar from Fridzema and Nimmo.  Episode 3, needless to say, is the good-time encore of ‘Let Love In’.
Along the way, key highlights come in the form of ‘Long History Of Love’ and ‘You Stopped The Rain’.  The former opens with a simple emotional quality, before Alan Nimmo’s guitar solo and Wayne Proctor’s drums work in synch to build a feverish intensity.  On ‘You Stopped The Rain’, meanwhile, Nimmo’s climactic second solo heads off into the stratosphere.
Set closer ‘Stranger To Love’ is a final peak, by turns shimmering and body-punch gutsy.  A few poor souls evidently haven’t got the memo about staying quiet during Nimmo’s ‘hear a pin drop’ guitar showcase, but thanks to some subtle hand signals from him, and some not so subtle signals from those in the know, they get the message.
After a final vocal workout for all concerned on ‘Let Love In’ it’s time to head back to our top notch digs at the nearby Hotel Nassau, a stylish re-modelling of some historic buildings in which the Order of Franciscan Sisters ran an orphanage until the Nineties.  Dunno what the Sisters would have made of some of the sinful artwork, mind you!

Next stop – Amersfoort!

Taking the Low Road Part 2 can be found here.
And you can find Part 3 here.

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