Gig Review: The King Blues, The Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton, 04/05/17

I am a fan but have never seen The King Blues live, I never got the opportunity. First hearing the band at the end of their promotional run for the Punk & Poetry album and finding out I had just missed out on that albums tour, ‘Next time’ I thought to myself, ‘Next time’. Within a year, The King Blues were no more, torn asunder by infighting and acrimony with the imminent release of their 4th album Long Live The Struggle, I believed I’d never get the chance to experience them in a live setting, that was until their impromptu reformation in 2016. Finally, here’s my chance. On the tail of the release of their 5th full length album The Gospel Truth, will The King Blues live up to their sterling live reputation?

Upon entering the main room, frontman Johnny ‘Itch’ Fox is already on hand manning the merch stall and greeting, handshaking, hugging and chatting to all and sundry with a genuine warmth and likability, this is something he will do all through the support sets, right up until he has to take the stage when any other frontman would probably be ensconced backstage, he’ll also do the same mere minutes after leaving the stage tonight also. This is a guy who obviously loves what he does and truly appreciates the people who come to see his band. When the time comes for the show to start, Itch has made his way stageward and launches straight into an impassioned and updated What If Punk Never Happened to an enraptured audience, When the rest of the band take to the stage and burst into the fan favourites Let’s Hang The Landlord, Set The World On Fire & I Want You, the room is bouncing from this perfectly measured opening salvo.

During this almost 2 hour set, The King Blues take us on a tour of their entire career, we’ll get the ska swagger of Under The Fog’s Mr Music Man right up to the Tory baiting Bullingdon Boys from the latest release The Gospel Truth. We get a band encompassing cowbell breakdown on The Streets Are Ours, some crowd participation during Underneath This Lamppost Light, Itch asking two vape wielding members of the audience to come on stage and act as a human smoke machine. There is also the inclusion of a brand new, incredibly on point song called Tory C**ts that elicited many cheers and claps from the audience, it may have been coarse but that didn’t make it any less cutting & incise. Throw in a run through of My Boulder with backing vocals from the support bands, explosive turns for I Got Love, Headbutt, Off With Their Heads to name but a few and finishing up a pretty much perfectly selected set with Save The World, Get The Girl, it has been a phenomenal night.

The crowd is drained and disheveled as the house lights come up, slowly filtering toward to the door ready for some well earned rest, not for our man Itch though, within minutes he’s back behind merch chatting and greeting his audience on their way home, myself included, with a warm handshake and a thank you for coming. It is something that isn’t seen enough in modern music, that ingrained level of connection to an audience that doesn’t fade after more than a decade of touring. Itch has clearly had a good time tonight and so has everyone else in The Slade Rooms.

The King Blues: The Gospel Truth is currently available on CD, ltd edition Vinyl and cassette and streaming services via Cooking Vinyl.


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