What a nice way to round off a long week – dinner with my wife followed by two quality blues rock acts just over the road at the ABC. With an early doors time of 6:30, we made it in time to join a crowd of a couple of hundred watch South African guitarist Dan Patlansky take the stage.
You’ll have to forgive this reviewer for not being familiar with Patlansky’s musical output. With seven albums, he’s got a large back catalogue to pull from and the tracks on offer tonight varied from quite slow and maudlin (to use my wife’s word – it is the blues after all) to some more up-tempo numbers. Patlansky’s voice lends itself well to both styles – and those in between – being husky yet strong.
He comes across as quite sedate on stage during the opening numbers, but as the set nears its climax some kind of rock monster erupts. Patlansky holds his guitar in his hands like it’s made of cardboard or balsa wood, ditches his pick and somehow manages to run off an incredible solo using hammers, pull-offs and bends which runs for several minutes.
Backed by a more than capable three-piece unit (bass, drums and keyboards), Patlansky’s forty minutes flew by and the venue was pretty much packed by the time he finished. Applause was more than just polite, it was enthusiastic and I’m sure he’ll have shifted a few albums during the set change.
The last time King King played Glasgow, it was as openers for Thunder at the Clyde Auditorium. A year ago they were playing in this same venue, but a floor below in a 350-capacity room. Tonight they’d come close to selling out a venue roughly three times that size. On the strength of their performance in February, I wondered at the time why they were only playing smaller venues, but their response was tonight’s show… indeed this month’s tour of similarly sized venues across the country.
Again, excuse my lack of familiarity with their setlist. It’s been a long time since I went to see a band I wasn’t familiar with due to the number of gigs now available to attend, the expense and so on – basically, the wife and I can rarely afford to “take a chance” on an unknown. Suffice to say that not knowing the songs off by heart didn’t detract from the enjoyment. Frontman Alan Nimmo’s announcement that the show was to be recorded for a live album ensured that the excited crowd were even further roused and the cheers and applause between each track will, I’m sure, sound great when the CD is released.
A couple of tracks I did recognise were “Rush Hour”, “Jealousy” and “You Stopped The Rain”; the latter dedicated to Alan’s big brother and labelmate Stevie Nimmo. I’m sure he’d have loved to be here tonight for his younger brother’s major homecoming, but his own tour schedule had him in Hartlepool this evening. The song was written as a way of Alan coming to terms with an illness Stevie went through a couple of years ago, one it’s thankfully obvious he fought through leaving a great track as a legacy.
The crowd obligingly applauded when asked, clapped along with the clappy-along parts and some of the shouts will make for interesting listens if they’re left in the recording! Alan tempered his language somewhat due to his mum being in the audience, and let his fingers and singing voice do the talking instead.
Like Patlansky earlier, Nimmo’s skill on the guitar is unquestioned and again he has a great band behind him. Lindsay Coulson on bass and Wayne Proctor on drums provide great rhythm, while I spent a fair bit of the concert staring at keyboardist Bob Fridzema’s magnificent organ.
That needs a rephrasing… as well as a standard electric keyboard, Bob was playing an old-fashioned wooden organ of sorts, which was connected to what I assume is some kind of amp with a spinny thing on top. I can only assume this helps produce the wonderful tones he was throwing behind Alan’s guitars – the key/string combo worked brilliantly.
Talking of amps, Nimmo did something I don’t think I’ve ever seen at a gig before: play part of a lead section without any amplification. At all. Quieting the audience down and with the aid of many “SHH!”‘s, he leaned as close to the crowd as possible and rattled off a brief solo in an acoustic style on an electric guitar – unplugged. Completely unplugged. The non-electric pluckings were an unusual sound to hear at a gig! I can only wonder how that’ll come across on the live release if it makes it on there…!
With about an hour and a quarter in the can, the band had to call it a night due to the early curfew. Myself, my wife and Ross (another of the Crew who was there) had a great time. King King are a band who’ve grown in stature very quickly and it’s on the strength of their songwriting and live performances. One band I can name who have risen in such a fashion are Black Stone Cherry – every time they come back to Glasgow they seem to play a bigger venue.
A little highlight was Alan’s search for a man named Iain in the crowd. King King are currently big enough to fill out a large venue, but small enough to call out a birthday greeting to someone whose mates posted a random comment on the band’s facebook page. Lovely.
Could Alan, the hometown boy, mimic this and hit arena status one day? Only time will tell. But rest assured that we’ll be there to see them play if he manages it.