Sunday, May 13, 2018

King King, Austin Gold - Playhouse, Whitley Bay, 11 May 2018

On it.  On it, on it, on it.  King King were totally on the money tonight.
Maybe Alan Nimmo had a premonition.  Coming onstage he looks out at the seated audience before a note has been played and says with a grin, “I hope you lot are gonnae get on your feet tonight.” And like a flash they are, even before he can add, “I cannae be doing with this sitting down shit.”
Next thing they’re off and running with an air-punching rendition of ‘(She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’’, and anyone sitting down after that would surely have been a masochist.
Alan Nimmo, having an okay night by the look of it.
This was a performance that underlined two things about King King.  One is that they have special gift, one not all bands have, of creating a truly communal experience with their audience.  It’s apparent from that opening, and from the immediate to Nimmo’s quick instruction for them to get their hands clapping on the following ‘Waking Up’, and all the way through to the joyous, celebratory singalong on the encore of ‘Let Love In’.
The second thing is that they’re not standing still, trotting out the same set month after month. Tonight’s show features a new, quiet intro to ‘You Stopped The Rain’ as a precursor to a bit of audience input, though the best bit is the wowser of a solo Nimmo cranks out at the end of the song. Similarly Jonny Dyke produces a delicate new piano intro on ‘Rush Hour’ that fits the song beautifully, and Nimmo prefaces ‘Long Time Running’ with a teasing bit of guitar riffery.
More to the point though, the way all the gears click into place tonight it seems like the false starts, personnel change and anxieties of the last couple of years have now been put to bed.  New material like ‘Broken’ is now fully bedded into the set.  Meanwhile Jonny Dyke on
Just in case you'd forgotten who the lot with the guy in the kilt are.
keys, who according to Nimmo describes himself as “the most irritatingly positive member of the band”, seems entirely at home.  His solo on ‘Long History Of Love’  hits the mark now – for all I know he’s playing exactly the same notes as the last time I heard it in Edinburgh, but tonight it feels like he’s tapping into the emotional core of the song, while Nimmo’s closing solo is as ever doubled in intensity by the interaction with Wayne Proctor’s drumming.  And speaking of Proctor, he powers a bone-crunchingly tight version of ‘Lose Control’.
If Alan Nimmo still has any concerns about the state of his voice then they’re not apparent, as he applies himself to every song with gusto and an often beaming fizzog.  Dyke’s backing vocals with Proctor now sound more grooved in too, and together with Nimmo the two of them deliver the necessary punch to the chorus of ‘Long Time Running’.
The closing pillars of the set hit the bullseye too.  Lindsay Coulson brings the requisite bottom end to the funk party of ‘All My Life’, and the audience do their bit by keeping impressively schtum during Nimmo’s sotto voce solo on ‘Stranger To Love’.
Some reviewers and fans will have you believe that bands routinely deliver triumphantly perfect performances, but the reality is rather different.  Tonight though, the roar of approval that King King got at the end of ‘Let Love In’ told the story.  Whitley Bay was one of those nights.
Support act Austin Gold had done a fine job of warming up the crowd for them mind you,
Dave Smith gets all heartfelt.
whipping things up nicely right from their gutsy opener ‘Roadside’, on which the trilling motif I had assumed from the album to be a synth line turns out to come from guitarist Jack Cable.  They have a good line in ballads, even if now and then, as on ‘Wishing It Away’, it feels like they could learn from King King how to really build intensity.  But they do find another gear on ‘Before Dark Clouds’, the title track of their debut album, and without singer and lead guitarist Dave Smith having to resort to a solo of the blitzkrieg variety either.
They deliver some stuttering funk on ‘Another Kinda Bad’, and if ‘Home Ain’t Home’ shows that they’re not frightened of exercising some restraint, pace-wise, they still crown it with a damn good crescendo.
‘All The Way Down’ is another quality ballad with a heartfelt vocal from Smith,  and with good guitar harmonies mingled with Russell Hill’s keys to boot.  They close by segueing into the relaxed, rollicking, ‘See The Light’, which with its guitar face-off between Smith and Cable could develop into a real powerhouse of a closer.  The Whitley Bay crowd lapped it up.
Austin Gold have a melodic rock sound that’s very much their own.  Oh, you might detect a smidgen of this here, and a smidgen of that there, some old influences, some new.  But ultimately they’ve developed a coherent sound that goes beyond easy comparisons. If you haven’t heard them yet you should get Before Dark Clouds right away, and put that right.

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