King King – Belfast, Empire Music Hall – 25 February 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby and The Dark Queen   
Saturday, 04 March 2017 04:30

Gig clashes, especially those involving bands who it could be argued share a potentially complementary audience demographic, are nightmare situations. This one did seem to offer some hope of a mutually beneficial resolution, with one of the gigs in question – The Answer’s annual to the Limelight a few hundred yards down the road from where Glasgow’s finest blues rock crew were making their Belfast debut – the subject of an early curfew, suggesting that diehard fans might be able to rush from one to the other for a double whammy of live action…


King King - Belfast 1


Sadly, this scenario did not quite play out (although the Über Rock team did manage to squeeze in two gigs back-to-back, leaving the third heat of this year’s Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses competition literally as the last note still echoed around the room to make it to this converted church shortly after doors opened) as it turned out that King King had decided to eschew the use of any support acts and take to the stage at a strangely early time… Hell, we’d only just uncorked the wine when Alan Nimmo, resplendent in his trademark red kilt, bounded onto the venue’s tiny stage with all the litheness a man of his not inconsiderable build can manage!


King King - Belfast 2


“I’m just about to lose control” Nimmo sings as he and the band – Bob Fridzema, Lindsay Coulson and Wayne Proctor – jump straight in and rock out… and for the first few minutes it feels like the room is reading to echo his intention. But, he slowly moves into a more chilled out groove, as a mellow as the rather fine pinot yours truly is enjoying to deliver what is a measured and well-paced – if surprisingly brief set of just 11 songs.


Displaying the uncanny knack of combining blues at both its most basic and its most flamboyant, Nimmo is also in great voice, especially considering his recent operation: it’s rich and harmonious, matching the latter quality of his guitar work, as he also delivers sublime solo after sublime solo which shake loose any dust which may be lingering the Victorian structure’s towering rafter: at one point, during ‘Rush Hour’, the Dark Queen rushes to the loo (fortunately it’s right beside our table) declaring “I’ve just come in my pants!”


King King - Belfast 3


To be honest, the songs are fairly standard blues/rock fare, and don’t stray too far from the basic premises of the genre: but, they are crafted by the hands of a master of his trade. Coulson and Proctor’s rhythm work is exemplary, keeping both the beats and the tempo taut and dynamic while Nimmo extrapolates and stretches his fretboard, and Fridzema’s honky-tonk style keyboard motifs take the songs very much into Faces/Frankie Miller territory.


The audience lap it up, crammed into every spare inch of the dancefloor and onto every spare stool – which they don’t retain for too long as most people spend the night bopping and grooving, singing themselves hoarse. On the evidence of tonight, I don’t think it will be too long before Mr Nimmo and his crew are back in this part of the Überverse… although hopefully next time they won’t go head to head with Mr Neeson and his mates!


King King headline the HRH Blues festival at the O2 Academy in Sheffield on Saturday 15 April.


PHOTO CREDIT: All photos © The Dark Queen/ Über Rock.


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