About the band:
King King the hard rock and blues band have been touring their latest album Exile And Grace for a while and decided to end the latest leg of it in their home town of Glasgow. The band are something of a well-oiled machine playing live almost constantly. They have a very bonhomie type attitude on stage. No over the top theatrics or even talk. Vocalist Alan Nimmo refers to the audience in the terms of “ladies and gentlemen” throughout. Polite and understated which is fine as they don’t need any of the usual rock and roll verbosity. They simply are excellent musicians with a host of excellently written songs. As they have progressed they have become more classic hard rock with blues ala Bad Company rather than an outright blues band, although they still play some material where both Alan can show his guitar skills and Jonny Dyke can impress with his keyboards, with the latter having as many solos and moments as the guitarist.
It was also an unusual night as long term bassist Lindsay Coulson was playing his last show with the band. In his statement a while ago he explained that with the band getting signed up with an American management company the band would be doing more travel and touring which he couldn’t commit to for family reasons. Quite a number of fans were wearing masks of his face and at one point of the show Alan pointed out to Lindsay that he was “the front row of the audience himself” which caused some laughter.
The live show details:
As the band took the stage the crowd sang along with some AC/DC in “Highway To Hell” encouraged of course by Alan. The opener from the latest cd “Broken” a politically inspired piece about what is happening to our planet still manages to have a riff that got hands in the air clapping along. “Lose Control” from their first album had some lovely honky-tonk piano on it adding an extra layer to what they do. Third song in “Rush Hour” saw the first of many crowd moments where the audience with no request from the band sang along lustily. The first mention of the title was belted out around me. The band definitely heard it looking at their smiles. I loved the organ sounds on this, very powerful.
“Coming Home (Rest Your Eyes)” was dedicated to the late drummer Ted McKenna of SAHB, MSG, and Rory Gallagher. As he said it is indeed a “sad loss” for us all. Again the keys take front and centre at points along with some sweet soloing from Alan. He did mention of course that being a 10th anniversary show that they were playing songs from every album (although they focussed a bit more on Reaching For The Light from 2015 from where 6 of the songs came from) and that is certainly what they did.
One of my favorite moments was the lovely workout that is “Stranger To Love” where Alan stretches out playing some beautiful solos. Personally, I love when they go full-on blues, where you hear just how good they are expressing themselves over a longer period. The rhythm section just holds everything down so well giving a strong basis for those workouts. The way they switch from that into “Waking Up” a rather funky number which caused some dancing in the crowd (even I found myself joining in, thankfully that is not on film!) which was superb. Right at the start, Alan asked for our hands in the air, he dutifully got them. This is where the new bassist Zander Greenshields who is joining the band was welcomed to the stage. They then broke into Whitesnake’s “Don’t Break My Heart Again” from 1980. That went down well with the crowd, especially us oldies. They were having fun and the fans joined in. Great moment.
“You Stopped The Rain” as always was dedicated to his older brother and fellow blues player Stevie who he joked was “tuning my guitars tonight“. However this time he also name-checked his mum as she was in the audience. The way the audience sang the guitar refrain was outstanding. The guitar solo was gorgeous. So much heartfelt emotion in it.
He did remark after the song that he was happy that tonight he could sleep in his own bed at last! The joy of being home amongst friends and family was obvious. They obviously love what they do, but that feeling of home cannot be beaten. The crowd clapped and cheered for them making sure they realized that the locals were happy to have them home.
They finished the night with an old Eric Clapton song called “Old Love” which seemed a low key end to the show but allowed one last chance to explore and solo in the finest blues tradition. Once again the emotion and sensitivity of Alan‘splaying came to the fore. The audience were still, quiet and showed rapt attention to the quietest moments of the piece. Which was very pleasing to see.
Once again King King did the business. No nonsense just great music played in fine spirit. Now they have that US management deal the world is truly their oyster. They have worked hard over 10 years and certainly deserve what success comes their way.
Support for the night:
Support on the night came from the wonderful Sari Schorr, a blues singer from New York. Playing a set heavily based around her latest album Never Say Never she wowed the crowd at the O2. She hits the stage like a whirlwind, all hands/arms/legs moving around dancing. She isn’t the only one as guitarist Ash Wilson moves around the stage and often interacts with her laughing, joking and rocking out.
She (and the band) can go from all-out assault to beautiful and tender. In fact, during “Valentina” she looked to be wiping away tears as emotion got the best of her. That kind of raw intensity is rare in music these days and it certainly got reactions from the audience. “Thank You” had the band laughing away as they tried to wind each other up whilst pushing one another to greater heights of performance. The vocal performance on “King Of Rock And Roll” was particularly powerful with the final notes being outstanding. She introduced that telling the story of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil remarking that as far as she could tell she still had everything in place. I think she could frighten Old Nick if he showed up due to the power of her voice.
Only a band as confident as King King would happily take such a powerful performer on tour knowing that they will not be completely overshadowed. This meant we got a fabulous double bill to enjoy on the night. Great stuff all round!
King King setlist… 1. Broken/ 2. Lose Control/ 3. Rush Hour/ 4. Coming Home (Rest Your Eyes)/ 5. Heed The Warning/ 6. Stranger To Love/ 7. (She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’/ 8. Waking Up/ 9. Don’t Break My Heart Again (cover)/ 10. Take A Look/ 11. Crazy/ 12. You Stopped The Rain/ 13. Find Your Way Home… encore… 14. Take My Hand/ 15. Old Love (cover)
Sari Schorr setlist… 1. The New Revolution/ 2. Damn The Reason/ 3. Ready For Love (Bad Company cover)/ 4. King Of Rock And Roll/ 5. Thank You/ 6. Never Say Never (Ian McLagan cover)/ 7. Maybe I’m Foolin’/ 8. Valentina