The King Blues

Electric Ballroom, London on Friday 9 October 2009

For those who are not accustomed with the Electric Ballroom in Camden, this alternative, cave-like venue was the perfect setting for the last date on The King Blues first major headline tour.

Although relatively small, as 'major' musical venues go, I am quite sure that this was the biggest crowd The Blues had played to, aside from at their festival appearances. I've seen The King Blues a couple of times in the past and this was by far their most diverse audience that I had seen, as at a mere £9.50 per ticket, the building was packed to bursting point with hundreds of punk heads and trendy folk filling every available space.

Unfortunately, due to the London transport system and other commitments, I arrived after the support acts but just in time to bag myself a spot on the stairs where all the other vertically-challenged people were teetering to see the stage.

Their set opened with the stage bathed in darkness and a dreamlike, instrumental, xylophone-sounding rendition of the children's rhyme 'London's Burning', which the crowd began bellowing out the lyrics to, which was amusing considering I've never heard a man with a purple Mohawk shouting a nursery rhyme before.

Suddenly the stage was awash with light, and lead singer, Itch, bounded on with the excitement of a kid in a sweet shop, closely followed by his two band mates, who all immediately demonstrated their musical talent by strumming their hearts out on their respective stringed instruments. Itch really does make the ukulele sound cool, as it was hard to believe that the powerful noise vibrating through our bodies was coming from something so small.

They launched into one of their politically charged songs from their first album, entitled 'Blood on My Hands', and the energy onstage was electric. All 3 of them played their instruments throughout the gig, as if their life depended on it, and Jamie Jazz in particular, leapt all over the place whilst performing, knocking over his microphone several times, and generally oozing vigour.

After the first track, Itch declared "Let's get the fuck up now. Let's get lairy" to which the audience responded to by doing exactly that. The crowd in general provided an amazing vibe – in my opinion most people that like The King Blues don't generally 'just' like them and this was very apparent. Everyone sang along to pretty much every song, and not just to the choruses.

This was clearly overwhelming for Itch, who just couldn't seem to quite believe that so many people had come out to see them and that they had so many diehard fans. Throughout the gig he kept shaking his head in disbelief at the audience and even got quite emotional when the whole venue were unexpectedly singing the lyrics along with him to the less commercial tunes. On several occasions, realising that the crowd knew the words, he would just stop and command for them to sing by themselves as he sucked it in.

The support also geared the band up and injected them with even more passion as Itch dived into the audience of flailing arms on 2 separate occasions whilst still singing, and Fruitbag and Jamie Jazz rocked out behind him, slapping each other high fives and moving round the whole stage.

The King Blues aren't just about performance though, and Itch took every opportunity, between songs, to relay their political ideology to the crowd, dedicating 'The Streets Are Ours' to protesters against the war, and declaring, "We are all one world, one people, one love despite what the fucking BNP might try and make you think."

The gig was also littered with small surprises such as, performing a version of Dizzee Rascal's 'Bonkers', which wasn't as good as the original but still a great punked up alternative, and the debut of a new track 'Headbutt', which Itch managed to get people singing along to, even though they’d never heard it before! They were also joined onstage by two members of Enter Shikari as they all belted out 'My Boulder', and after their encore, Itch performed his spoken word tune 'What If Punk Never Happened', which was a treat since he has not performed this a lot at gigs in the past.

There were no low points to this gig, as the time whizzed by with such a high energy performance and set list. As the gig drew to a close Itch told the crowd, "We're all a bit shell-shocked that there's so many of you out there on the last day of our tour. This really means a lot."

The whole band were overwhelmed, overexcited and so appreciative that they were performing in such a venue to such a big crowd of fans and it was a real privilege to share that experience with them – an experience which they rightly deserved because although The King Blues may never be kings in the 'commercial' world of music, due to their controversial thoughts and messages, this gig had more passion and meaning in it than any other I have attended before. For that, I thank them.

Set List:
1. Blood On My Hands
2. Let's Hang The Landlord
3. Mr Music Man
4. Headbutt
5. I Got Love
6. The Streets Are Ours
7. Out Of Luck
8. Underneath This Lamppost Light
9. Bonkers
10. Save The World, Get The Girl

11. What If Punk Never Happened
12. The Schemers, The Scroungers, And The Rats
13. Taking Over

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article by: Fiona Madden

published: 13/10/2009 08:32