Picture this….Dan Patlansky (Dear Silence Thieves – 2014 Blues Rock Review album of the year) and King King (Reaching For The Light – 2015 Blues Rock Review’s album of the year) both on the same bill…. together in frontman Alan Nimmo’s hometown…. with the King King portion of the show being recorded for a future live album release. How could I resist the temptation to make the trip to Glasgow to catch this concert? The good news is that I did not. A deceptively large place once you get inside the O2 ABC was full on the same Saturday night as the 61st Eurovision song contest. Something that being from the States I honestly had never heard of until that evening. Apparently, there was actually some concern from the band that they could not fill the place. It turns out that was totally unwarranted as the place was packed.
Dan Patlansky kicked the night off with the instrumental warm up of “Drone,” which he transitioned into the riff driven rock of “Sonova Faith” from his recent IntroVertigo release. I was blown away by the intensity of the band, the amount of sophistication of the song writing and the power that this four piece puts out. These are not just simple repetitive rock riffs. Things then got funky with his latest single release, “Stop the Messin.” A little piano from his new keyboardist Dean Barrett kicked off the slower blues of “Loosen Up” where Dan’s guitar solo was sublime.
Driven along by the staccato rhythm laid down drummer Andy Maritz they then reached back to Dear Silence Thieves and pulled out the heavy rock of “Fetch Your Spade.” Dan then spoke about his love for a good minor blues, how he puts one on every album and that playing it is one of the highlights of his night. He delivered that highlight for everyone in attendance with a soaring solo during “Still Wanna Be Your Man.” Dan then delivered another shot of rock with another DST track, “Back Bite.” While Dan again lit up the fretboard, let us not forget the powerhouse bass laid down by Clint Falconer.
With only a short 40 minutes to fill, Dan’s pyrotechnics were fully on display on the closing instrumental of “My Chana.” He used one hand on the fretboard to hammer on and pull off extended runs of notes, then used carefully controlled feedback while taping out harmonics, and finally held the guitar at the base and produced sounds by bending, beating, and twisting the body of his guitar.
After a short break we were treated to the beaming face of Alan Nimmo as he strutted out on his hometown stage in his now trademark kilt with the rest of King King. They then launched right into “Lose Control,” the first track off their debut album, Take My Hand. An appropriate track to kick things off since at that point that is what the audience was ready to do. Tracks off of Reaching For The Light dominated the set list as we were treated to “Waking Up” and their latest radio single release of “Rush Hour” in quick succession. Based on the sing along to “Rush Hour” you can tell that everyone there was intimately familiar with the band. Enough cannot be said about how tight this group is. The rhythm section of Lindsay Coulson on bass and Wayne Proctor on the drums lays down a groove that you cannot help but enjoy. Bob Fridzema on keys meanwhile fills in behind Alan’s vocals and guitar masterfully and he can lay down an equally good solo himself which he did on the soulful “Long History of Love.”
“More Than I Can Take” wound things up again followed by Alan’s touching words as he explained the significance of “You Stopped The Rain.” It was written about his big brother Stevie’s illness a few years ago. The whole song especially the chorus with lines like “I don’t know if I was you if I could stand up tall like you” takes on a completely new meaning. After that, Alan switched out his Strat for a Les Paul and they tore into the angst ridden beauty of fellow Scotsman Frankie Miller’s “Jealousy.” After reminding everyone that they were being taped, Alan encouraged everyone to belt the word “crazy” during the chorus of “Crazy.” The crowd was in full effect as everyone delivered as requested.
The power ballad of “Stranger to Love” took an interesting turn as they stretched out the solo section and Alan stepped to the front of the stage and turned his guitar off. Unfortunately, the timing of an abrupt lighting change made many people in the audience think there was some sort of power failure on stage. Even with Alan shushing the crowd, many totally missed the point of everyone being extremely quiet so that we could hear his unamplified guitar. I think the effect was thus lost on many people past the first few rows, which was unfortunate because what you could hear over people hooting was quite good. They thanked the crowd and walked off stage to thunderous applause which was quickly followed up by the chant of King King. After 90 minutes of a blistering show the crowd wasn’t ready to stop. The only negative of the evening was a hard curfew that put an end to the fun, but not before they came back to treat us to one more song, “Let Love In,” to close the evening out.
Dan Patlansky and King King’s albums are excellent. There is a reason that both performers were albums of the year but the studio just does not do justice to the live shows. They are both just killer live; but the homecoming of the UK’s hottest blues band with a phenomenal opening act makes this one of the top concert experiences I have ever had. The best part of the experience is that King King recorded their part. They have been recording on many stops this tour so hopefully a large chuck of this show makes the cut because I really hope that you can all experience the mastery that is King King live. With potential that this band has after Standing in the Shadows and Reaching for the Light, the live one should called Brighter Than The Sun.
– Kevin O’Rourke
Photos by Stuart Westwood