King King - LIVE: Queens Hall, Edinburgh 2018

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Exile & Grace Tour
January 26 (20:30 – 22:05)
Capacity 900

King King brought their blues inspired hard rock to Edinburgh selling out the 900 (standing) Queens Hall, an old church with a clock spire built away back in 1823. It is a lovely venue with a curved upstairs section with seats that also go around the sides of the main floor and standing area.

Support came from Aberdeen blues guitarist Gerry Jablonski & The Electric Band. As a band they have been together for three years and are very impressive, especially the main man who really goes for it live on stage, living up to his nickname "The Zany Genius". With solid rockers like Heavy Water and funky workouts like Slave To The Rhythm, to extended blues like Trouble With The Blues, they really know how to work an audience. Gerry moves around the stage in a manic way, swinging his arms and guitar like a crazy man, proving brilliant to watch at all times. Both he and his band have the songs and chops to make their shows a very enjoyable musical experience.

Being fully sold out, this was probably the biggest show King King have played in Edinburgh, and the crowd seemed well up for the gig, leading to Alan Nimmo (singer and guitarist) exclaiming at one point "What can I say, but that was outstanding," after yet another ovation. Alan has a very pleasing manner, chatting with the audience in a very "matey" way like he was chatting with friends in a pub. No hyperbole or fakery at all.

Although promoting their new album Exile & Grace, they played a good number of older tracks on the night, with three of them being the longer blues pieces - as opposed to the more generally popular blues rock songs - where he could express his guitar work in longish solos and also allow new keyboardist Jonny Dyke to show off his skills to the audience. On Stranger To Love - a longer version than in previous shows - he took it right down so quietly, with only in no more keys and drums, that he started he pretending to be soloing, pulling faces with the crowd totally hushed, before unleashing another storming guitar solo. Vocally this is a track where he is very in the mould of Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company) but his solos still steal the song. The first was very haunting and emotional and the second shredding. He has great versatility in his playing even within the one song.

Rush Hour was treated like an old friend, despite being only one album old, with the crowd starting the "woahs" during the song before being prompted, as well as beating Alan to the chanting ending - this really was a group of people up for communal singing. With a great groove this was one that went down particularly well on the night. Before You Stopped The Rain, Nimmo thanked the crowd for selling out the venue, jokingly saying that he had to knock back some friends requests for freebies, before embarking on the lengthy piece, which the crowd sang at all the right moments, picking up the endings of several lyric lines without much if any prompting. Other moments in the set that caught the attention and added to the night included the way Lose Control was enhanced by some lovely piano flourishes, and the with the keyboard solo in Long History of Love.

Of the new songs (She Don't) Gimmer No Lovin' was a good opener with its very classic Bad Company/Thunder vibe and obvious catchy chorus, and Find Your Way Home - a song Alan remarked his brother (Stevie) had said if King King didn't play it live he would steal it for his shows - is a strong and simple sounding ballad that a few years ago would probably been a hit chart single. Conversely Long Time Running was again a '70s straight ahead style rock song which got immediate reaction from the crowd.

The new material is definitely more classic rock than blues but the songs are on the whole decent, however they seem at their best when they extend themselves and the audience in those more blues moments, which they make sure they retain in the live sets.

Setlist: (She Don't) Gimme No Lovin' / Waking Up / You Stopped The Rain / Broken / A Long History of Love / Lose Control / Rush Hour / Time Running / Stranger To Love / All Your Love // Find Your Way Home / Let Love In

Written by Tom Cornell
More: 2018, Blues, Gigs,

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