I first saw King King supporting my beloved Thunder in Bristol, 2016. I was so blown away by the show that I immediately bought all of their albums. Not much later, a 'Live' album was announced, along with a European tour. Of course, the album was instantly pre-ordered, and I waited patiently for the tour dates and venues to be announced...
The day came and I eagerly scanned the list. Chester! Chester was on the list! It's a mere 20 miles from where I live. Awesome! I contacted my best mate Alun, and got those tickets snapped up.
The Live Rooms in Chester is a popular venue. It's purposely configured to house live events, and is comprised of two main rooms and an upstairs stage viewing area. There are bars in both rooms and while the place isn't massive, it's big enough to host the popular artists, but small enough to enjoy the intimate feeling that often seems to be missing at stadium-sized shows. As well as hosting live music, the venue is also a nightclub.
Support for King King came from Midlands rockers the Broken Witt Rebels, who are a bloody good outfit in their own right. I admit I hadn't heard any of their stuff until this gig, but what I did hear was very impressive, tight, soulful and deserving of the success I'm sure lies ahead for them. After the Rebels had finished their set (to rapturous applause), there was just about enough time to grab another JD & Coke before the place jumped back to life as King King entered the stage.
As with the live album, King King opened the set with a rousing version of 'Lose Control', which went down a storm. Right from the off, people were dancing and singing along. The guys followed this with a really bluesy version of 'Wait On Time' which, if you take a listen, is impossible not to tap your foot to. Proper, proper blues with lashings of feeling and soul drizzled all over it. After a couple of thank-you's by front man Alan Nimmo, they kicked into the unmistakably catchy intro to 'Waking Up', which always gets a great crowd reaction.
Alun and I were loving it. During the pre-gig drinks, we'd got chatting to a few people, and they were also loving every minute. One girl had said she'd never heard anything by King King, she'd just fancied a night out in Chester with some live music. She later told me of her intention to buy the albums and definitely see them again. King King have that kind of effect on people.
Next up was 'Rush Hour', a perfect singalong track and man, did we sing along! The band even cut the last line or two short, and let the crowd finish it off. Awesome! They followed this with the beautiful ballad 'A Long History Of Love', one track I could just listen to over and over. Trust me, this tune is epic! The track really lends itself to the heart wrenching keyboard solo from Bob Fridzema, followed by a face-melting guitar solo from Alan. Total, total quality.
By now, we were half way through the gig and it was turning out to be a fantastic experience. You could tell the band were loving it too, Lindsay Coulson on bass and Wayne Proctor on drums having an almost telepathic connection, forming the backbone and engine room of the outfit, with Bob on keyboards oiling the machine and Alan on guitar (and vocals) driving the whole epic mass onwards.
'More Than I Can Take' was next up, an upbeat story which showcased the talents of the guys brilliantly. Following this was 'You Stopped The Rain', a track with such a catchy Hammond organ hook that I couldn't get the bastard thing out of my head for the rest of the night! The classic 'Jealousy' was just as good, oozing with quality from start to finish. It's easy to underestimate how skilled these artists are when the music is this good, you tend to forget it's being played live. It's no wonder the band has won a raft of performance awards. 'Crazy' came next, another fan favourite, which had the crowd jumping and singing along.
Bringing the set to a close was 'Stranger To Love' which has one of the most amazing guitar solos I've heard in any song, ever. Alan had the crowd completely enthralled, while the towering Lindsay coolly overlooked his respecting subjects. This track somehow reminds me of the Free/Bad Company classics, and I'm sure that Paul Rodgers himself wouldn't be offended by me making the comparison. Wayne, Lindsay and Bob knew just how much to add, and how much to hold back here. The guitar solo came in waves, from a trickle to a fierce gush to a gentle lap, and at one point the total command over the crowd was demonstrated by Alan playing a section of the solo with no amplification whatsoever! The place must have easily had a thousand people inside, and yet this guy was playing an electric guitar with his amp turned down, and you could actually hear the strings being plucked and pulled! Now that's what I call magical! The song built up into an overpowering crescendo, with Wayne taking control on percussion, before eventually exploding into a triumphant final chorus of band/audience collaboration. My ears were ringing and my throat was raw but as King King left the stage, that didn't stop me joining the rest of the crowd in screaming for an encore!
The guys came back on for one final number, with Wayne and Lindsay breaking into the ubercatchy introductory phrases of 'Let Love In'. Bob and Alan joined in and everyone around me was dancing and clapping along. Magical. Of course everything has to come to an end, but this gig will give me great memories for a long time to come. Everyone we talked to were saying how impressed they were, and how much they'd loved it. Later on, as the club started emptying, I managed to grab a few pictures with Wayne, Lindsay and Bob (Alan was busy backstage), and I have to say they are the most pleasant guys to talk to.