Saturday, January 27, 2018

King King - Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, 26 January 2018

The times they are a changin’.  In keeping with their incursion into the broader classic rock landscape, King King come on stage to the heavy duty strains of ‘Highway To Hell’ rather than their old time fave ‘Alright Now’.  More appropriate though, would have been ‘Let The Good Times Roll’, because after all the trials and tribulations of 2017, this was a performance with a big grin writ large across its face.  Not flawless, it has to be said, but happy days are here again nonetheless.
The Queen’s Hall was sold out for this show, and it felt like it. And the longer the night went on, the happier Alan Nimmo looked in the assembled company.  Opening with the good time 
Alan Nimmo back in full voice - thank goodness
rock of ‘(She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’’, followed by the dependable soldier that is ‘Waking Up’, they had the packed crowd moving from the off.  But it was ‘You Stopped The Rain’ that provided the first highlight.  Notwithstanding an unnecessary introductory singalong to the riff, the emotional bite that it has developed live was there in spades, rammed home by Alan Nimmo’s climactic solo.
‘Broken’ delivered a sense of epic from the Exile & Grace catalogue, though to my mind ‘Betrayed Me’ would be a stronger choice.  In any event it was eclipsed by ‘Long History Of Love’, as ever a defining moment.  New boy Jonny Dyke put plenty of energy into his keyboard solo, and of course he has to find his own path, but it felt like he still needs to tap into the soulful core of the song to do it real justice.  Dr Cameron prescribes repeated listens to the studio version.  All the same, it worked its magic as it’s always done.
King King were in cruise control by now, with the crowd going word for word on ‘Rush Hour’ – obviously – and ‘Lose Control’.  By the same token newie ‘Long Time Running’ predictably had the joint jumping with its good time vibe.  The chorus feels thinner than it should mind you – methinks Alan Nimmo may have to join in with the backing vox on the title line to give it the necessary beef.
It’s testament to the close knit nature of the King King crowd that throughout the set sightings of big brother Stevie Nimmo in guitar tech mode, arm in a sling following last year’s cycling accident, are met with sporadic cries of “Stevie!” – and ultimately a chorus at this point of “There’s only one Stevie Nimmo!”  It’s a family affair, as Sly Stone put it, in more ways than one.
Down the stretch ‘Stranger To Love’ is immense, with Alan Nimmo’s vocals as powerful and impassioned as they’ve ever been.  Never mind the much vaunted near silent solo, the ending is overwhelming, as Nimmo churns out the same couple of notes over and over and over, while Wayne Proctor shifts the mood by first going double time on drums, and then somewhere else altogether.  It’s one of several moments in the set that just brooks no argument.
They close with ‘All My Life’, and Jonny Dyke sure as hell finds the funk while Nimmo gets on down as Lindsey Coulson digs out a big bass groove over Wayne Proctor’s booming drums. It’s at moments like these that you remember just how good King King are.
After a quick breather, ‘Find Your Way Home’ sounds more convincing than it does in its REO Speedwagon-ish studio incarnation, before ‘Let Love In’ brings down the curtain in suitably jubilant fashion.
Alan Nimmo - a performance with a big grin on its face
There’s still work to be done for this rockin’ new incarnation of the band.  Here and there the harmonies felt off, perhaps because Jonny Dyke occupies a different register to Bob Fridzema before him.  And maybe there are still decisions to make about the balance of the set – I missed ‘Wait On Time’, and the choice of new songs is still up for grabs for me.  But for all that, this jam-packed crowd of happy bunnies, and the big smile on Alan Nimmo’s face, told the tale of a band that continue to be on the up and up.
Going on before a band of that quality is a challenge, but UK Blues Award nominees Gerry Jablonski and the Electric Band sure don’t shirk it.  Entering stage left with main man Gerry Jablonski sporting a dodgy new barnet, they embark on the moody intro to new single ‘Heavy Water’, which then erupts into an explosion of riffing, with Jablonski wafting abracadabra gestures over his guitar that are more Tommy Cooper than Ritchie Blackmore.
I jest – a bit.  But then Gerry Jablonski does seem to have a penchant for being the lovable court jester. Nonetheless, these guys have developed a niche proposition that deserves to be taken seriously - namely, hard blues rock with the added twist of the prowling menace that is Peter Narojczyk and his blues harp.
‘Trouble With The Blues’ shows off powerful drumming from the all growed up and stubbly Lewis Fraser, and squelchy bass from Grigor Leslie, but the more that Narojczyk gets in on the act the more powerful they get, until they whip up a veritable storm on ‘Soul Sister’, with Jablonski ripping out a wild solo that works all the better for the absence of any tomfoolery.  The same applies to the closing ‘Slave To The Rhythm’, another example of the danceability of their material. Jablonski and pals were probably well known to a lot of this audience, but I’d guess from the cheers at the close of their set that they’d won a few more fans.
As support bands go, Gerry Jablonski and the Electric Band are a daunting proposition.  King King showed once again though, that they’re on a different level, which is why they're now selling out venues like this.  Let the good times roll!

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