The King Blues play the last night of their UK tour in Bristol, to a sold-out venue full of faithful fans.

Mad Apple Circus open up proceedings with a fun, catchy set. Their Bristol Ska/Hip-hop/Jazz fusion sound is delivered by nine band members, including a four-piece horn section. The band work well together and offer a huge soundscape. The brass section certainly sets the rhythm throughout, and play out some lively funky tunes. The band has a Bad Manners feel to them in places – fun and encouraging the crowd to get into it.

The band’s two vocalists share the workload, adding another dimension to their feel-good numbers, which certainly get the crowd dancing. “Partisans And Vandals” and “Ragged Bar Blues” are real stand-out songs. Mad Apple Circus deliver a really enjoyable set, which sets the tone for the rest of the evening.

Next up is Louise Distras, who is the main support for the whole tour. The Wakefield punk poet songstress has been gaining admirers wherever she plays, and it’s easy to see why. Distras is currently working on her new album, a follow-up to the fantastic Dreams From The Factory Floor, through a Pledge campaign. Tonight’s set is well balanced and features a strong mix of new songs along with some old favourites. 

This band of talented musicians is made up of Violet the Cannibal (drums), Zoe (bass) and Damian (guitar) who each deliver a superb performance throughout their set. The band start the show with the anthemic “Stand Strong Together”, which is later followed by the fantastic new single “Aileen”. The pace is quickened with rocking, racing drums, which are even played stood up in parts during â€œKeep On Fighting”.

The spoken word hard hitting poetry of “Dreams From The Factory Floor” strikes a chord with the audience respectfully hanging on every word, before Louise dedicates “Ruby Rose” to all the women. The song features poignant lyrics like “Fall in love, but don’t fall in line”.

The audience is then treated to what has become a Facebook Favourite every night of the tour – a Yorkshire sing-song message to Donald Trump to the tune of “Hey Baby” by DJ Otzi, to which the audience duly obliges. 

Louise thanks The King Blues for inviting her on tour before finishing with “Black Skies”. Following which she jumps off the stage into the crowd to sing halfway through before returning to encourage a rendition of “No hate, no fear – Refugees are welcome here”. This is another of Louise’s strong beliefs. The band all playing out the song on the drum kit at the end too, which results in cymbal stands crashing to the floor to finish a great set.

The King Blues are a well-dressed outfit, with singer Jonny “Itch” Fox donning a brown suit for tonight’s show. The rest of the band are no slouches either, in both attire and skill. The crowd are soon singing along to set opener “Let’s Hang The Landlord”. Tonight, the band are playing like their lives depended on it – giving it their all as they launch into the punky tones of “Set The World On Fire”.

Fox says it’s been a long time since the band have played in Bristol – “Thanks for sticking by us!”. “Starting Fires” sees Jonny bring out the ukulele. It’s a little lost through the heavier parts of the number but comes to the fore as the song ebbs and flows.

Members of Mad Apple Circus join the band onstage during “We Ain’t Never Done” adding trumpet and trombone to the track, which gives the song additional texture. The band pick up the pace with the punk/ska vibe of “The Streets Are Ours”, which gets the crowd jumping and the band grab cowbells and whistle to enhance the party.

The mood is softened with a few songs with Itch on stage alone armed with his ukulele. This includes a sublime rendition of “Underneath This Lamppost Light”. The charitable crowd in attendance this evening have even brought food to the show to be distributed to the local soup kitchens and to feed the homeless.

The crowd are treated to “Heart Of A Lion” from The King Blues forthcoming album The Gospel Truth, which sounds great. Old favourite “I Got Love” follows, with both guitarists swapping electric for acoustic, and the crowd clapping along.

The crowd are asked if we want some punk or ska. Ska wins, and subsequently, they get the slow sounds of “Tear Us Apart”, before the faster two-tone style of “When The Revolution Comes”. Fox later dedicates the first song he wrote “Mr Music Man” to Louise Distras before the Reggae/ska vibes continue with set closer “The Future’s Not What It Used To Be”, which leaves the crowd wanting more.

The band returns to the stage and delivers an acapella version of “If I Had A Coin” before bringing the night to a fitting conclusion with the punk power of “Off With Their Heads” and reggae number “Save The World, Get The Girl”.

The King Blues deliver an amazing, yet genre-defying set featuring a melting pot of musical styles. Tonight the audience are treated to reggae, punk, ska and two-tone all blended seamlessly. Political – yes. Meaningful – yes. A great night – yes. The King Blues are an amazing live band and certainly one to look out for again.

Photos by Donna Coombs

The King Blues
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Louise Distras
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Mad Apple Circus
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The Fleece
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Event Date: 05-FEB-2017