The King Blues at Manchester Academy 2: Review

The ever controversial King Blues played 2 Christmas shows recently, as they do every year for their fans in Camden as well as last week at Manchester Academy 2.

Prior to the gig the band asked people to bring tins of food with them which will be collected on the door and distributed to a local homeless charity.

Fronted by lead singer ‘Itch’ he makes a bold entrance complete white blazer, red Beret and a pink flamingo umbrella. Without any introduction he does a powerful 10 minute acapella version of ‘What if Punk Never Happened’, all the while people in the crowd repeat it back word-for-word.

The band emerge from the stage door while Itch introduces himself: “I’m going to put this umbrella down now, someone dared me to do it.” The band squeeze onto the small stage and immediately set at ‘Hang the Landlord’ – the majority of the intimate venue coming alive with a mosh pit.

They smash out some of their heavier tunes from the album ‘Off With Their Heads’, before the band temporarily disperse and Itch addresses the crowd again. In reference to the recent Manchester attack, he wrote a poem when it happened and shares with the Manchester crowd for the first time, which deservedly gets a huge reception from tonight’s Mancunians.

You can plant your bombs
and can hate us all you want
You can die for your a
cause but we will still live as one
Britain is a bulldog,
you’ve no idea the things we’ve seen
We will offer up our homes,
give our blood and brew our tea.

You can try try to divide
us against what we hold so dear
We will fight back with
love for that’s the opposite of fear
Your war will not be won
and when you target our kids
Well your bombs bring
us together in the spirit of the blitz

This is the City of United
of Solidarity
Of sport, music and culture,
real community
There’s nothing that can
stop us, this light will not go out
We still stand together,
as if there was ever a doubt

Itch gets this trademark Ukulele out and talks about a love song he wrote underneath the lamp post light. He tells a story about hoping it would be a Christmas song, but the label he was on at the time got a new manager; they had two bands that were similar so needed to get rid of one. The other band are a little known band called Mumford & Sons. “So I bet they’re regretting it now, I don’t know if financially they made the right choice.”

Itch explains how the smoke machine might be a bit much for the love song so instead pulls out tonights star of the show ‘Ste’. Ste sits on the stage next to itch to Vape at the appropriate time throughout the song to create atmosphere. It definitely creates an atmosphere but I’m not sure what that atmosphere is. It takes Itch a few attempts to get the song going while the crowd are chanting Ste’s name. A beautiful song nonetheless, it ends with Ste getting booted off the stage and Itch looking round for his band.

“Would you believe I pay my tour manager for this’ he looks across at the sound man who runs to get the band. ‘No, No, No, you stay there, you’re doing a great job, you are where you need to be”

The band emerge with the shamed tour manager. After the romantic interlude its straight back to moshing with, ‘My Boulder’, ‘Heart of a Lion’ and ironically ‘Not Another Love Song’ before crowd favourite ‘I Got Love’ plays out – which gets the biggest response of the night. Itch gives another thanks to the crowd and gets the Uke back out for the first track The King Blues ever released ‘Mr Musicman.’

The boys leave the stage before coming back out for the Encore and line up at the front of the stage for the barbershop esque ‘If I Had A Coin’. I’m not sure how but, bizarrely works. They close out the night with ‘Off With Their Heads’ and their most popular track ‘Save The World, Get The Girl’ which brings the crowd flooding into a growing mosh pit for one last time.

It’s was everything you’d want from a smaller gig, both intimate and personal. The King Blues cover a range of genres, spoken word, punk, ska, and acoustic love songs. They’re never going to get the recognition they arguable deserve but I don’t think they want it. Look out for Itch doing an unplugged show next year at the Star & Garter.

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