By appointment, I was invited to witness a right royal rockin’ racket by King King; a band definitely deserving of MBE’s all round for their commitment to Music Before Everything attitude!
Led by a genial frontman with a penchant for wearing a kilt and ankle length working man boots, this endearing rock/blues band certainly know how to dig right down to the soul of their “brass tacks”.
Freighted with latest album Exile & Grace, which crashed into the top 40 album charts, this mini UK tour in support of it alighted at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. And KK offloaded a cargo load of their well-loved songs to the delight of their devoted following.
As the band filed onto the stage, with Free’s “All Right Now” blaring out from the PA, the thrumming riff to “She Don’t Give Me No Lovin’” kicked off this joyful celebration of band and fan bonding which had plenty of roundheads nodding from the off.
With his Fender guitar strapped over his vintage-looking Whitesnake T. shirt, Alan Nimmo has the aura of a big, friendly guitar playing Gruffalo as he stomps the boards flicking out sharp licks. Fully recovered from his recent illness, which temporarily sidelined the band’s momentum, Nimmo is back in fine voice with the warm richness of his delivery slotting into the good company feel of his band’s vintage rock sound.
Now boasting a new keyboard player in the very dapper Jonny Dyke, the band locked into a solid, pumping groove across set list stalwarts “Waking Up” and “You Stopped The Rain”. Dyke’s hands hopped around his swarming Hammond sound showcasing his undoubted ivory virtuosity. In many ways, he adds a new and fresh perspective to the band as both he and Nimmo interchanged choppy solo’s with a wash of vivid sound colour.
Clearly, it wasn’t lost on the band that they were beginning this UK tour with the biggest gig of their career, so far, as “Rush Hour” breezed in with its purring slice of seventies radio rock which found their excitable audience enthusiastically chanting along.
But the showstopping moment arrived during “Stranger To Love”, with Nimmo’s exemplary guitar cameo as he took the volume down to zero on his Gibson to play a fix of licks without amplification. To say that one could hear a plectrum drop, as he sustained the hush in the venue, would be to understate the effect that he held over his adoring fans. I have never witnessed such an audacious “stage-trick” executed with total trust between artist and audience. A true masterclass.
With the band now fully into their stride, rock-solid drummer Wayne Proctor and cool-handed bass player Lindsay Coulson locked and loaded a tight take on “Crazy”; enabling Nimmo to further display his mastery on guitar and vocals.
An emotive ladling of passionate fire on encores “Find Your Way Home” and “Let Love In” burned up the boards at this venerable venue as King King triumphantly claimed their musical throne.
King King: a band so good that they named themselves twice.
Words: Paul Davies / Photos: Eric Duvet
Event Date: 17-Jan-2018