LIVE REVIEW: King King, Laurence Jones @ Sage Gateshead 2 (19.03.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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There was a partial eclipse recently, during which I heard enough superlatives to arm me to adequately describe the King King gig on Thursday night. The packed out Sage Hall 2 was first treated to blues starlet Laurence Jones. He may look like a young Fernando Torres, and probably hasn’t experienced much hardship in life, but boy, he can sing. He can play a mean guitar too, building the audience’s expectations perfectly. He performed a touching song dedicated to his uncle, a victim of cancer, which featured an incredible Weather Report inspired bass solo. Jaco would have been proud. He asked if there were any fans of Hendrix present, before playing Bob Dylan’s All Across the Watchtower; luckily he played the Jimi version, and very well at that. By the time his leather jacket has few more scuffs and a few women have left him, he is going to be a huge star.

The young blues artist of 2014 would be a hard act to follow in usual circumstances, but King King aren’t a usual band. Bedecked in his trademark kilt, Alan Nimmo greeted the 360-degree crowd with typical Glaswegian humour before launching into a high-energy blues-rock number. I nearly dropped my pint.

I am no guitarist, but it was easy to see that his technical ability with his axe is unfathomably high. Not only that, but he plays with emotion. Anybody can learn to play a guitar, but to be able to connect with the audience on a personal level is a skill that simply can’t be taught. In other words, he pulls an excellent sex doll face. He is, of course, backed up by a fantastic band. From where I was standing, bassist Lindsay Coulson looked a lot like Hangover actor Ed Helms but unlike the Hollywood A-lister, Lindsay co-writes many of King King’s songs, and while he takes a backseat onstage he is clearly a vital part of the machine. While I am commenting on their appearance, keysman Bon Fridzema bares an uncanny resemblance to the gadgie from Toploader.

Facetiousness aside, it is great to see a proper Hammond organ player, and this Rotterdammer certainly gives us some really superb, captivating solos; he never struggled to impress. Drummer Wayne Proctor completed the band. I am a firm believer that you cannot have a good band without a good drummer. Luckily, he is beyond a good drummer. Like Lindsay, he is aware of who the star is and was happy to provide the necessary platform. The chemistry between the four of them was evident, and their cohesion throughout was flawless.

it was easy to see that his technical ability with his axe is unfathomably high. Not only that, but he plays with emotion

King King took us through a range of dynamics and styles throughout, highlighted by an almost Motown-sounding organ solo in A Long History of Love, which also showcased Alan Nimmo’s vocal range. He can belt a song out, reminding me of Bryan Adams at times (you might guffaw, but Bryan Adams has sold more than a few records). Crucially, he can also bring it down and actually sing, again, with passion and feeling that makes what he sings believable. Their latest album Reaching for the Light is due for release very soon and they played a few tracks from it, notably You Stopped the Rain, which Alan dedicated to his brother Stevie, the other half of the Nimmo Brothers.

Before they got a chance to play, a shout from the crowd was smartly rebuffed with ‘you save your breath for your bird’ from our charismatic frontman. Get in son, you tell him! The track was an upbeat number, a real toe-tapper which once again featured some mind numbingly good guitar solos. Another from the new album, Stranger to Love exemplified their ability to use dynamics to build an anthemic sound, then bring it down into an atmospheric solo break. The moment of the night for me was when Mr Nimmo turned the volume down low on his guitar. Right down. Then, as the audience were deadly silent he turned off the amp and played his electric guitar acoustically, brilliantly judging the feel and size of the room. It was a spellbinding moment of quiet reflection in an otherwise rocking gig.

I was slightly concerned for them when they played a track, which seemed to follow the same chord progression as the James Taylor Quartet’s Starsky and Hutch theme. Luckily JTQ aren’t related to Marvin Gaye, so they might have got away with that one… Bare with me, but sometimes it is possible to get a bit bored at blues gigs, or any gig of one genre, but I enjoyed the night from start to finish and didn’t so much as glance at my watch, which is a testament to the wide appeal of their music.

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