Sunday night and while Ross watches some guy in a top hat in a big venue with crap sound quality [it was actually decent – Ross], I was watching a local act headline a smaller venue with… well, with actually not bad sound quality for once. Perhaps due to the fact that the sound wasn’t cranked to eleven as it is for the more metal acts, perhaps because it was the hometown show for the guys from King King and the sound techs realised how bad it could be for them to get it wrong. Either way, we had decent acoustics at the Academy for once.
First up, Sari Schorr. Now, I wouldn’t say I’m a fan but this is purely down the the genre of music she plays. When her albums come in they tend to go to Ross, but she impressed me tonight. First and foremost are her incredible vocals, but let’s not forget that she wrote most of the songs performed this evening as well – just not the Bad Company one!
I confess I was working on my phone a bit while she was playing (it’s a busy month) but I was constantly drawn from my work by the entertainment on stage. She’s humble between songs as well, appreciating the audience but bloody hell did they appreciate her back – and deservedly so. With a set hopping between more up-tempo numbers and slower more soulful ones, she got the chance to demonstrate every aspect of herself at her best, all backed by a more than capable band.
When she announced her date at the Oran Mor on March 9th, I actually saw a woman in front of me dig out her phone and head for a ticketing website, obviously sold on the strength of tonight’s performance. Overall a brilliant opener for tonight’s headliners.
Prior to the local lads hitting the stage, AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” rang out. By the time King King‘s Alan Nimmo had finished tuning his guitar, the whole audience was singing along. So far tonight, everyone on stage has been in shirts and suits or a nice dress. Nimmo has opted for his trademark outfit of a black t-shirt with a band print on the front and a kilt. Everyone else looks sharp. He’s got a scruffy beard. Surely this guy can’t sing the blues? Think again… You know that phrase about not judging books by their cover? Yeah, that.
By the time we hit “Rush Hour”, the crowd were singing back the “woah-oh” parts unbidden, getting louder as the song progressed. The extended musical break at the end of “Stranger To Love” is the kind of thing that many bands simply couldn’t get away with. But King King maintain such a level of passion and hold over the audience while doing it that you just can’t help but feel drawn in.
This kind of audience interaction is pure King King, and I’ve seen it at every show I’ve been to. What I’d not seen before was an entire front row all wearing masks of the band’s bassist. Tonight’s show was to be Lindsay Coulson’s last, but what better place to have your send-off than your hometown? Coulson gracefully gave up two songs to allow new boy Zander Greenshields a chance to get to know his new fanbase. Clad in a Glenn Hughes shirt, the new boy did good including keeping the rhythm through a cover of Whitesnake’s “Don’t Break My Heart Again”.
With Coulson back in place for the last few songs, the intro to “You Stopped the Rain” gave me goosebumps as the audience led the vocals. The song was dedicated to Alan Nimmo’s brother Steve who was backstage tuning guitars (all wrong, apparently!). The solo at the end could go on another five minutes and I’d not mind.
The main set ender, “Find Your Way Home” was begun with a request for the Nimmo’s mother: “Mammy? Don’t greet”. It’s a powerful song and one of the band’s best… though we had two more to go. Ensuring that they covered every album tonight, the band encored with “Take My Hand” and ended with “Old Love”. The final track starts really slowly, very much a hardcore blues number – but by the time it ended, the place was rocking.
Seeing couples dance together with massive smiles on their faces, mobile phones being used to take selfies rather than just film the show and just feeling that buzz is what takes me back to see King King time and again. They don’t play the kind of music I normally listen to, but they take a genre I’m pretty much ambivalent about and make me love it for two hours.
Also, kudos to a band who will headline a venue the size of the Academy and then still go to the merch table afterwards to sign autographs and have their photo taken. It was lovely to see Sari Schorr there as well!
Photos by Sean Larkin Photography (Nottingham show)