Welcome to King King, a band who put a great big smile on everyone’s face, making you feel sorry for anyone who’s not in the audience, grooving, clapping and cheering.
A dynamic support slot from Hatfitz And Cara, a duo who use almost anything to hand to create a groove that’s blues, rock, folk, country – yet none of these – sets the tone. It’s entertaining and blushing with sparkle, creating the right ambience for the main event.
King King frontman Alan Nimmo, a larger than life Scot (hence the kilt), smirks as he announces that his mum is in the audience tonight, “so there’ll be no swearing”, which gets everyone guffawing and immediately on his side. Half of the Nimmo Brothers, Alan has character, charisma, charm and conviviality. He plays guitar with the combined influences of Paul Kossoff, Gary Moore and Eric Clapton, and has a voice that oozes Frankie Miller and Paul Rodgers. While Moore — and, more recently, Joe Bonamassa — had to work hard to get their vocals to a decent level, this bloke makes it all sound so easy.
Waltzing into Hurricane, the next 110 minutes are joyous. Like all the best nights, King King make you believe there’s no other band on the planet. They wrap up their sound in melody and momentum, carrying you along for the ride. And it’s not just Nimmo. Organ player Bob Fridzema provides a commanding foil for the guitarist, and at times their dialogue is overpowering. And all four Kingsmen – completed by bassist Lindsay Coulson and drummer Wayne Proctor (a rhythm section so locked together you’d swear they were siamese twins) – have the ability to switch from bravura to breathtaking to benign almost in a blink.
It seems almost churlish to highlight certain songs, but A Long History Of Love is a powerful, epic conflagration, allowing Nimmo to throw out some fiery licks, while a version of Frankie Miller’s Jealousy is tingling, both deferential yet also individual.
But it’s Stranger To Love and Old Love which are truly sensational. The former builds to such an instrumental crescendo you assume that’s the end of the set, before the latter takes us even higher. During the intensely quiet guitar passage of Old Love, Nimmo finally loses patience with those continually yapping at the bar, going to the edge of the stage and diplomatically gesturing to them for a little more respect. This gets a huge cheer from everyone else; as one wag shouts: “That’s Scottish for shut the fuck up!”. It works as well, because Nimmo then dips straight into caressing his strings almost inaudibly, with an impact you couldn’t even get from an overamped metal riff, before leading the charge to triumphant finale.
Eschewing the usual routine of leaving the stage and returning for an ‘unexpected’ encore, the band stay put and finish with the crowd-stomping Let Love In, with everyone whooping, clapping and stamping their feet.
King King are regal proof that the blues is a living, breathing entity. Miss them, and you’re denying yourself a daub of colour in a grey society.