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Live Review: King King
Comment Editor Alex Goodwin makes a return to King King shows, and tells us about the band's belated night of blues
On 18 January, Glaswegian blues band King King took to the stage at Birmingham’s Town Hall for a rescheduled gig on their Exile & Grace tour. As I entered the Town Hall, I found myself stumbling upon the relatively tragic support act, Rhino. The band was essentially one front man in his 60s that was still clinging to Noel Gallagher’s mod hair-cut, a very talented but awkward guitarist, and a drummer placed well in the back. It is safe to say the support act did not successfully get the crowd pumped, although that is a hard job to do when the youngest person in the crowd (other than me) is forty years old.
“Alan Nimmo has a stage presence that comes with an acknowledgment that a room full of people still love blues music as much as he does
Having said that, Rhino finished their set with a song called ‘Stan’, which was about the frontman’s dog, and I have to admit that the lyrics made me laugh out loud more than once. Regardless of the below average support, I had a beer in hand and was eagerly awaiting the main event. Frontman Alan Nimmo has been playing blues since he could walk, influenced by his blues-loving mother and older brother Stevie. Stevie and Alan formed the Nimmo Brothers back in the late 1990s and saw success with Armadillo Music in the early noughties, so Alan is no stranger to the stage. And, remaining true to himself, at 9.30pm Alan marched out to the crowd wearing a casual kilt, a t-shirt and timberlands.
Unfortunately, the Town Hall is seated, which for me puts a downer on the atmosphere of live music. However, as Nimmo started to strum on his Les Paul, that no longer mattered. Opening up with their up-beat number on the latest album ‘(She Don’t) Give Me No Lovin'’, I was in full blues flow straight away. Looking around, I realised only around seven other people were on my wave-length, but it was no bother, as Nimmo’s talent rung out over the crowd. As the next hour and a half went on, the classics such as ‘Rush Hour’ and ‘You Stopped the Rain’ made the set-list, and undoubtedly were much more of a crowd pleaser than songs from the new album. At one point a man took it upon himself to carry the crowd single-handedly, standing up and clapping ferociously throughout ‘A Long History of Love’.
The special artist-to-crowd moments came when Nimmo spoke out to the audience. In a rather emotional rendition, he thanked fans for their patience with the originally cancelled gig, which occurred on the back of a long and medically necessary vocal rest. I personally do not go to King King shows, this being my fourth, for the atmosphere amongst the audience. Alan Nimmo has a stage presence that, for me, can only come with the smaller, less rowdy crowds, and an acknowledgment that a room full of people still love blues music as much as he does. During ‘Broken’, the front-man removed the amp and played a chord sequence to a completely silent audience, our ears straining to hear the notes. I’d never seen it be done before, and I’d never seen silence fall upon 500 people so quickly.
“It was not the rowdiest, or the sweatiest gig I’ll be attending this January, but the band’s blues talent is unrivalled in the modern day
Nimmo later looked out to the crowd and said ‘get the f*ck up out those seats, I want to see some body shaking’, which everyone willingly obliged. ‘Heed the Warning’ and ‘Stranger to Love’ were the final ensembles for the band, and the crowd had finally found their beat. It was not the rowdiest, or the sweatiest gig I’ll be attending this January, but the band’s blues talent is unrivalled in the modern day. Nimmo’s vocals were back to his best, and Exile and Grace has lived up to their previous album, Reaching For The Light, which was not an easy task. I know I’ll be sporting my King King t-shirt once again for my fifth visit to the four-man blues band.