“Boys and girls,” says Alan Nimmo as he surveys the crowd in the middle of ‘Wait On Time’, “I was dreading this, with Paul Rodgers playing doon the road. But you came here. Eejits!”
His concern was understandable, given that King King’s audience surely draws on fans of Free and Bad Company. Would a bundle of them forsake Nimmo and co for the night in order to Rodgers do his ‘Free Spirit’ show at Glasgow’s Armadillo (aka the Clyde Auditorium)?
In the event he needn’t have worried. King King have their own loyal fanbase these days, and if the room isn’t jam-packed by the time they come onstage, it’s still well busy.
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Wisely, they’ve freshened things up by shuffling the set list, after focusing heavily on the King King Live selection during recent tours. Coming on to the audience belting out a rousing chorus of ‘Alright Now’ to their entry tape, they launch into ‘More Than I Can Take’, with previous opener ‘Lose Control’ moved downstream to mid-set. Later, ‘Jealousy’ is rotated out of proceedings in favour of another of the classic soulful moments from Standing In The Shadows, their exquisite take on Free’s ‘Heavy Load’.
And in addition to the old, the borrowed and the blues, they serve up something new with ‘She Don’t Gimme No Lovin’’, set to be the first single from forthcoming new album. With a prickly guitar intro redolent of AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’, it’s a radio-ready rocker that a horse racing pundit might describe as “by Whitesnake, out of Thunder”. It’s a breezy affair, with a nifty key change and nestling in the middle an opportunity for a fresh singalong in the future.
The lynchpins of the set continue to captivate though. The second number, ‘Wait On Time’, is an effortless gear changer to get everyone moving. With Wayne Proctor shuffling on drums, Lindsay Coulson strutting on bass, and Bob Fridzema grooving away on organ, the Fabulous Thunderbirds track is a slab of blues-funk they’ve made their own.
The crowd have the singing on ‘Rush Hour’ down pat nowadays, while ‘You Stopped The Rain’ has become a veritable showstopper, with Nimmo soaring away to wonderland on his vertiginous closing solo, drawing whoops of appreciation at its conclusion.
Fridzema cooks up a new variation on his solo on ‘Long History Of Love’, while Nimmo demonstrates that after a worrying six months his vocals are back to full strength, especially
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He’s not kidding when he sings “We’re gonna get funky” on the intro to ‘All Your Life’. Get funky we do. As danceable a rock track as you could ask for, it still has its subtleties, with Proctor and Fridzema chopping up the rhythm big time during the latter’s solo, while Nimmo contents himself with holding down a tick-tock funk groove on guitar.
By the same token, the epic set closer ‘Stranger To Love’ doesn’t just feature Nimmo’s totemic ‘silent running’ guitar passage; as his solo takes off again Proctor – the master of the booming drum sound – and Coulson get up to all sorts of rhythmic shenanigans beneath it.
My other half was disappointed to find that the encore was ‘Waking Up’ rather than her favourite, the sunshine funk singalong of ‘Let Love In’, and maybe she has a point. If they felt in need of a change then there may be better candidates to round the night off, like ‘Can’t Keep From Trying’ or ‘Crazy’, perhaps.
But hey, who cares? Alan Nimmo appears to be operating at full throttle vocally again, there’s a new album in the offing, and this show reaffirmed what we already knew – as a live act, King King always deliver. Let the good times roll!