King King at The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

Posted on 10 March 2016
By Chris High
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It was as though fate had drawn arguably the UKs finest Blues band, King King, to The Epstein Theatre … in Liverpool … on the very day that ‘The Fifth Beatle’, Sir George Martin, passed away and if anybody would have admired the sheer exuberance, craft, guile and energy of their performance on the opening night of their tour, then Sir George would have undoubtedly been that body.

However, before critiquing the main event, let’s take a moment and evaluate the support act: Mr Laurence Jones. Being British Blues Awards Young Artist of the Year two years running should really speak for itself but, until you actually see this young man in action, then no award on Earth is going to sum up either his skills or his potential.

Just listening to the fun that runs through Touch Your Moonlight and witnessing the unbridled joy with which he performs it, is clarification enough that this is a young man who is more than worthy of the acclaim he has received so far, and more. His technique is faultless, his presence undoubted and his capability to engage with his audience is that of a seasoned pro.

So then, King King; a band on the crest of a spectacular wave of success that just keeps on rolling and rolling, growing and growing, evolving and evolving. With a catalogue jam packed with emotive, brilliantly written, classily performed songs that are guaranteed to have older fans marvel at their majesty whilst newer followers simply ask “how have I not heard these before?”, here is a band with everything.

On bass, Lindsay Coulson and on drums, Wayne Proctor, drive the rhythm of the band along like a juggernaut. Never faltering and always slap bang on the money, these two are an absolute pleasure to watch in their own right, let alone as contributors to the sum of the whole feast.

On keys – most notably Hammond Organ, which provides many of the songs on show here with a depth and resonance that is simply astounding – Bob Fridzema is a revelation. His keyboard break during A Long History of Love is almost worth the admission price alone, whereas his contribution to Jealousy is easily the defining factor between this being a very good ballad and being a classic.

And then there is the kilted warrior himself, Alan Nimmo, who’s warbling, half-gravel filled vocals and dynamite guitar playing is a recipe for auditorium demolition, offset by the very fact that every word he sings and every note he plays is filled to the brim with genuine genius.

Rush Hour, from the latest album Reaching for the Light, is unadulterated music heaven on disc but, here, live, with Fridzema laying the groundwork upon which Nimmo can explode into a guitar solo that will have jaws agape within moments, it becomes a monster of a song that justly has the audience out of its seats and roaring its approval by the climax.

In a fitting, humble tribute to Sir George, Nimmo then dedicated A Long History of Love to the great man, elongating this gem of a song from the Standing in the Shadows album with yet more superb guitar work. This is a man who is clearly at home on stage, comfortable in his own ability and loving everything with which he surrounded right now and rightly so.

This wasn’t so much a gig but more of an all round admiration society; the audience of what they were witnessing and King King of the opportunity to ply their trade and when, as the night closed in, Nimmo decides it might be good to turn off the effects and amps on his guitar so that all we can hear is the strings themselves, the very fact that the near sold out Epstein Theatre was silently concentrating on what they are in the presence of says far more than I ever could, with regards to the thrall in his followers were held throughout.

In short, it has been a very long time indeed since a night of Rock / Blues has been enjoyed more and it can only be hoped that this first appearance by King King in Liverpool will be very, very quickly repeated: A quite phenomenal live music experience that will forever dwell in the memory.

King King
Support: Laurence Jones
The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool
9th March, 2016
PR Rating: ***** Pure Magic