Review: Marcus King – Oran Mor, Glasgow

It’s impossible to talk about the astonishing talent of Marcus King without mentioning his age. So let’s get it out of the way then, shall we? 23 years old, been playing live since the age of 11. Three albums with The Marcus King Band, one solo album just released. That’s a mighty impressive output for any musician, let alone some who has only been legally allowed to drink alcohol in America for the last two years.

Someone so young, producing vocals so rich and soulful, that you could be forgiven in thinking that there were some shenanigans going on. Close your eyes and Al Green is up on stage in front of you, open them and it’s a “kid” who you could picture getting asked for ID in Asda while trying to buy Hooch. Yes, age ain’t nothing but a number, but when King opens his mouth to sing, jaws do drop.

Then there is the small matter of King’s guitar playing. Equal parts Duane Allman, Steve Cropper and Derek Trucks, this is guitar playing full of heart and soul. It’s impossible to watch Marcus King and his incredible band (complete with horn section), and not mention anything Allman related. Songs often stretch out into jams between King and other band members, most notably keyboardist Dane Farnsworth who brings some serious grooves to the party (especially during an effects laden jam on a spellbinding cover of ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’ complete with a few bars of ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’). You get the sense that you could watch Marcus King seven nights in a row, and be treated to seven different sets.

The fact that tonight’s venue used to be a church is not lost on King. He mentions it several times, as if he was preaching to a packed congregation. On certain occasions the mind flashes back to James Brown’s scene-stealing performance in The Blues Brothers. The audience/congregation spend the night whooping and hollering in classic call and response mode, lot’s of “Can I get an amen!” from King, especially during soul-drenched moments like ‘How Long’ (which is played at a far faster pace than the studio version).

The set is made up of a healthy dose of moments from the solo album ‘El Dorado’, of which ‘She Disappears’, ‘Beautiful Stranger’ (featuring King on a gorgeous red Fender) and ‘Love Song’ particularly stand out. Mixed in are older moments such as ’Goodbye Carolina’ and ‘Homesick’, along with a healthy dose of covers, some expected; ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’, some not; ‘My Morning Song’ from The Black Crowes anyone? Hell, there is even time for a drum solo from the wonderfully bearded Jack Ryan!

This was as spiritual an evening as it gets in an old church in Glasgow’s hipster West End on a Saturday night. It had everything; blues, soul, gospel, country and good old-fashioned rock & roll. It’s hard not to get too carried away with superlatives when it comes to Marcus King, but fuck me dead this kid can play.

Catch him on tour throughout Europe until March 9th where the tour ends in wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen.

Review – Dave

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