Live Review: King King – 02 ABC, Glasgow
In case we were unfamiliar with innovative South African guitarist Dan Patlansky, there is a lifesize advertising display next to the merchandise stand showing us exactly who he is. Said display lists some of his many accolades that read like a script that famed boxing announcer Michael Buffer might roll out before uttering his trademark catchphrase… ”Let’s get ready to rumble…”
“In the blue corner… #4 of 10 Best Rock Guitarists In The World, Total Guitar Magazine. Nominated Best International Solo Artist, Planet Rock Radio Awards.
Male Artist Of The Year, Blues & Soul Magazine. Top 20 Blues Rock Artist, Blues Magazine. Please welcome to the stage… Haaaaaaandsome Dan Paaaatlaaaanskyyyyy!”
Judging by the size of the queue waiting to meet him at the same stand after his blistering set finished, Patlansky ended the evening with a fair few hundred new fans added to the legion he gained after opening for Joe Satriani on last years Winter UK tour. Comparisons to greats like Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan are easy to make, and not just because they all share/shared the Fender as their weapon of choice, but as well as the incendiary playing, Patlansky also has that slightly funky edge to both his singing and playing that Hendrix and SRV featured so well. Take ‘Backbite’ for instance. Damn, that song has a classic Stevie Wonder ‘Superstition’ funky-ass vibe to it, before Patlansky lets rip with one of many astounding solos. The ability to fatten his sound up this way is perhaps what makes him stand out from the current pack of more traditional blues players.
His latest album (his 7th) ‘Introvertigo’ has just been released, and the 40 minute set is peppered with choice cuts from the album. ’Sonava Faith’, ‘Loosen Up The Grip’, and ’Stop The Messin’ all sound incredible, as do the slow blues moments on ‘Still Wanna Be Your Man’, with Patlansky introducing it as his “Favourite part of the evening…”, but the real highlight is when he takes off during his final solo of the evening, and produces one of the most memorable guitar performances that I’ve ever witnessed. Any feeble attempts at trying to describe it would fall short, but it ended with him playing one handed before flipping it over to reveal a cutaway part of the body where the inner workings of the tremolo are visible and he plays the guitar backwards. Trust me, just search for ‘Dan Patlansky Guitar Solo’ on YouTube, and watch slackjawed as he fucks with your head! With two successful visits to Europe under his belt, as well as a cracking new album gaining him vital exposure, it’s great to see a true guitar virtuoso breaking out of his native homeland, and making waves over here.
As I awaited King King taking to the stage, I took in my surroundings, and it dawns on me just how well this band is doing. I have followed them for some time. I have shouted their name from the rooftops and wondered if they were ever going to break out of the smaller clubs and venues that I have witnessed them in so many times. It was not for lack of recognition in the music business, as these boys have more awards than an All Blacks trophy cabinet, but they just were not breaking through, much to my annoyance.
I think 2015 was the year it all changed, they released the incredible “Reaching For The Light”, but that alone wasn’t going to do it. They had to break out of the smoky blues back room, and before the end of that year they took to the rock stage with Gun, and their sold out homecoming gig in Barrowland. That night, I watched an audience who were previously oblivious to this band won over within three songs.
The next, and most crucial, step for this band was getting the support slot for the mighty Thunder on their UK arena tour. This was a work of genius. As a long time Thunder fan, I knew this crowd more than any other, would appreciate them and let them into their hearts (and wallets)… which brings me back to tonight. This is King King’s biggest headline gig in their own backyard. I saw Alan post the day after this gig about how worried they were about getting enough punters in, but one look around this room tells it’s own story… it is packed. There is no going backwards now for King King.
Earlier that day, we got a little tidbit of info from Facebook, saying tonight was being recorded. I have to say, I was taken aback when it was announced earlier this year that the live album and DVD were to be recorded down south (how could you do that to us?), and this news, along with the turnout tonight, went hand in hand in creating a perfect atmosphere for a recorded show. In fact, it would have been such a loss if this stunning show had not been recorded for posterity, and I am bursting with pride and dying to hear what this sounds like, as tonight’s audience were off the scale.
As the band all file out on stage, and take in the audience in front of them, it is smiles all round, none bigger than on Alan himself, who is beaming from ear to ear. You cannot fake that kind of joy, and Alan admitted later he was close to tears on a number of occasions tonight. But enough of this emotional nonsense (us Scots aren’t good at this crap). Alan plugged in, and the band burst into “Lose Control”, which took us right back to where the King King journey began, as this was the first track of their debut, “Take My Hand”. The band are on fire, and as always happens when I watch these guys, time just stands still as they play song after song, and it isn’t long until they get to my favourite song, “Rush Hour”. I know this is a new song, but this should be kept for the encore, as it is a pure classic. Although new, it has already had changes made to it live, which means it will always be in the set list. The band introduced a sing along part for the Thunder tour, and it goes down a treat live, and has given it a life all of its own. Tonight, the audience grabbed it by the horns, and I can confirm I have not heard singing like that for a long time. I actually shut my eyes and just listened to the crowd, and it was like being transported back over 30 years to the hallowed Glasgow Apollo and the always rowdy Glasgow choir.
They quickly move onto “Long History Of Love”, a slow, smouldering blues number, which shows Alan’s talents as an incredible guitarist and vocalist (I really cannot believe with this performance tonight there is anything wrong with his voice). It also sees the ginger genius Bob show what he is made of. His playing may be from a bygone era, but the sound he gets form his (no jokes now) organ is incredible. Every time I hear him play, Jon Lord is never far behind in my thoughts. Before “You Stopped The Rain”, we get to, what I suspect is, another emotional moment from Alan. Both himself and his mother, who is present today, had to deal with the tragic news that Stevie was diagnosed with cancer a number of years ago, and the song portrays perfectly how it is everyone else who struggles to deal with the situation. Stevie got back on his bike and just kicked it’s arse with a smile. Alan is also being very careful about his language, with his mother being present, but I can tell you Big Stevie wasn’t so candid last week.
Next up was my favourite track until “Rush Hour” came along. “Jealousy” has to be seen live to be believed. I never got to see Frankie Miller play this song live, but I don’t believe anyone other than the great man himself has ever come close to playing this song like King King. It gives me goosebumps every single time, and it always brings my emotions to the fore. Now my two favourite tracks are done, and I can relax a bit, but King King had a surprise in store. Now, I have listened to “Stranger To Love” many times. I have also heard it live a fair few times, but tonight this one knocked me for six. For some reason, the lyrics sank in and I reflected on a past relationship and my emotions were all over the place. The song took me on my own journey, and I do not know how I missed the relevance before, but suffice to say this has found a place in my heart.
This just left the encore of “Let Love In”, and “Old Love”. The night was over at a stupidly early time, due to the venue’s curfew. It was all over too quickly, but I would have said the same thing with a three hour set. The band were on fire tonight, with Wayne Proctor behind his beloved set of Ludwig drums, smiling and pulling faces, but we cannot leave out the backbone of this band that is Lindsay Coulson. The man may not be running up and down the stage, but he has the grooves… and a large collection of sports jackets. Joking aside, this gig was awesome. A night that I know I will look back on many times in the future. I have no idea how this band can top a performance like that, but I bet they prove me wrong. I feel as if I am part of this King King journey now. I know, bar accident or jail, I will never miss a show, and I bet that goes for most here tonight.
There is one other thing that has to be mentioned and that is every person that made up the audience tonight… they played their part to perfection, and showed the world there is no better audience than in Glasgow… let’s face it we are amazing.
Dan Patlansky review: Dave Stott
King King review/images: Ritchie Birnie