The King Blues / Mouthwash / Dirty Revolution

The Academy, Brunel University, West London on Wednesday 29 April 2009

On a warm April evening, Brunel University's student union played homage to a night of ska-based music. The first thing that struck me when I entered the venue (apart from the fear-encompassing memories of my past years at the university) was how empty the small venue was and how I was the oldest person there... this was going to be an interesting, if not depressing gig.

Dirty Revolution, a Welsh female-fronted ska group, were already halfway through their first song. The music was pleasant enough to listen to but there was just something that wasn't quite right. The loud and eccentric female singer, Reb, was in fact both the positive and negative of the group. She tried to get the non-existent audience going and at one point declared, "This next song is about some twat I met in Blackpool." Is it? Oh great, Thanks for telling us because we can’t actually hear what you’re singing.

I'd never considered the implications of a female singer in a ska band but it definitely was not working. Rebs' sometimes screechy voice struggled to be heard over the music and some of the fast-paced vocals were completely lost in the near empty venue. The bouncy tempo often drowned her out, which wasn’t really a bad thing...

Just as I was starting to hope there wasn't another support band, they announced that Mouthwash would be coming on next. I got a little excited as the venue started to fill up and I will be honest in saying I know of Mouthwash from my days growing up in South London. I was also very scared as I hadn’t seen them perform in years and one of my best friends is lifelong friends with one of the members: what if they were rubbish?

Other gig-goers obviously knew something that I didn't, as the venue quickly started to fill up with youngsters and oldies alike. The five boys took to the stage and started their set with a dramatic introduction filled with strong drumbeats and brilliant riffs. The best thing about this band is that they can genuinely play the hell out of their instruments!

Mouthwash look like another group of young guys in a band together, however there is definitely something special about them. The lead singer, Nipper, bounces up and down like a pro onstage and more astoundingly, he’s one of the first young, white boys I have come across who sounds like he was genuinely born to sing reggae-style tracks. They obviously have a strong legion of fans, as their set continued, and a ska-infused mosh pit formed at the front of the stage.

There were men in their forties who clearly knew all the words to their tunes and I will be bold enough to say that this is because they're the first modern band I have heard that sound like The Specials. They played a full set that had the crowd going crazy and the energy they produced onstage was unbelievable, especially when they played 'No Fear', which is a beautiful sizzling summer track that I definitely recommend for any reggae lovers out there.

With the venue packed to reasonable capacity, it was time for The King Blues. The lead singer, Itch, entered the stage to raucous cheering before putting on an old-style record, taking a can of black spray paint to the white sheet background, and scrawling 'King Blues' on it, much to the audiences delight.

The other two band members joined him onstage, as well as their backing band, and they begun their incredibly powerful set. The King Blues are a band like no other with their politically strong lyrics and amazing range of sound and instruments. Itch is clearly the front man, who spoke the most during the performance, in between singing and playing his ukulele.

It's amazing just how tuneful their music is with such a wide range of instruments, and you definitely can't pigeon-hole these guys into one genre, as their tunes range from ska to punk to indie almost immediately. Itch definitely delivered a gig full of strong messages, declaring at one point, "This one goes out to those killed by the police and not natural causes," as they went on to perform a crowd-jumping performance of 'Don't Let The Bastards Win'. At one point, he also encouraged the already hyped up audience to "Let's all of Uxbridge say a big fuck off to the BNP!"

It's important to point out that the gig did not carry the air of a hate rally but instead gave everyone the feeling that they were part of something more - something quite unifying. The other two group members have to be highly commended because they played their instruments with immense power and talent, as well as providing some amazingly strong backing vocals.

There was a technical problem with Fruitbag's guitar during the intro of one of the songs and they started the tune again not realising he wasn't onstage; Itch clearly became quite irritable with his band members but held the riff of the tune well and apologised to the audience for the 'false start' and 'technical problems'.

Then they were off again. Their performance was electrifying with high energy, and Itch even managed to sneak in a inspiring poem about women called '5 Bottles Of Shampoo'. As they performed their last tunes, Itch commanded, "Let's get rowdy. This one's Save the World", and everyone really did go wild.

As they took their final bows and Itch signed off with "Thank you Uxbridge. It's been an absolute pleasure", I left the venue wondering how I could save the world... or at least when could I next see The King Blues?

Voice your opinion in the eGigs forums...
article by: Fiona Madden

published: 06/05/2009 09:53

more about The King Blues
more about Mouthwash
more about Dirty Revolution
more about The Academy, Uxbridge