“Without these guys, I’m just a crazy Scotsman with a guitar”. No one can accuse Alan Nimmo of being big-headed and it’s true, King King are a talented bunch – but Nimmo proved once again at the Harmonie that when it comes to wrenching emotion from six strings and a Gibson Les Paul he’s, well, the King.
Speaking of ‘The King’. The evening’s opener looked like a teenage Elvis Presley. Curiously he sang like an adult Bruce Springsteen. Those embodiments should endear him to a multitude of fans of both sexes. Till Bennewitz even sounds American when he introduces his songs, but actually he hails from Germany and not Graceland or Nebraska.
I’ve heard good things about Bennewitz and considering he was armed with only an acoustic guitar for company I suspect he will be well worth catching with his full electric band. There are some thoughtful self-penned lyrics in the songs presented tonight and a nod to the Presley comparisons with a hip shaking version of ‘Burning Love’. Just when he had everyone’s appetites whetted for the new CD we discovered it won’t be available until later in the Summer. “In the meantime please buy a T-shirt!” he joked. Bennewitz is safely under the wing of a certain Mr Aynsley Lister so Britain could well be his breakthrough Country. We shall see.
“It’s hot in here. At least I can wear a skirt with no underwear!” That’s got to be the best line I’ve heard from the Harmonie stage this, or possibly any, year. It’s not a skirt of course, but a kilt, worn by the best Blues-rock guitarist north of the border. There’s a good sized audience for a Sunday night and although it’s the last night of a busy European tour the energy from the audience is clearly energizing each and every member of the ridiculously talented King King.
The band also have a new CD not yet released, but unlike Bennewitz, they have it for sale later “Because we’re nice guys, we brought some copies along for you” Says Nimmo with a grin from ear to ear. After only a few numbers it’s clear the cardboard boxes with the remaining new discs are going to be emptied well before midnight.
They kick off with the first track from the new CD ‘Hurricane’ and the lyric “Won’t stop, won’t fall. Runs through me like a wrecking ball”. The lyric pretty much describes the bands performance on the night. Taking no prisoners. The hard hitting rock sound is also a pointer to both the evening and the new CD. Equal parts Coverdale and Rogers, Whitesnake and Free.
Wayne Procter as always has a super clean, dry backbeat on his gleaming Sakae kit. More often than not playing with eyes scrunched up in concentration. Meanwhile Lindsay Coulson looks the epitome of relaxation, with a smile for anyone whose eye catches his. He’s not missing a beat though, and playing better than ever – as a later listen to the new CD proves. Bob Fridzema is tightly penned in between the back wall and his Hammond Organ but still finds the elbow room to deliver some keyboard magic. For all but a handful of the happy crowd he is no more than a shock of red hair sandwiched between the top of a keyboard and the bottom of a sign saying ‘Bonn Harmonie’.
Master of ceremonies of course is the kilted man in the middle. Alan Nimmo has an irresistible combination of boyish enthusiasm and gentlemanly reverence. When he thanks everyone for coming out and supporting live music there’s no doubt it’s from the heart. Then he pulls his Les Paul into place over his shoulder, and adjusts the tuning pegs with the smile of a little boy who’s just been given a big Christmas present to open. Does this man love to play?!
Clapton’s ‘Old Love’ has practically become a King King anthem now of course as the big man takes all volume controls down to zero and yet still seems to make the now acoustic strings echo back to the bar. It’s always a memorable number, but this evenings best moment comes with a wonderful rendition of Frankie Miller’s ‘Jealousy’. Fine vocals as well as guitar playing that begs the listener to just stand there and let the music take over.
If you haven’t yet been to a King King gig and got a copy of the new disc then I can assure you there are some crackers on it. ‘You stopped the Rain’ and ‘Take a Look’ got a work out live and powerful they were too. ‘Stranger to Love’ is reminiscent of ‘Ain’t no love in the Heart of the City’ in mood and bluesy vocals – fans of 70’s style Rock are going to love the new CD and love the band even more.
Early on the agenda, after a few days at home for the band members, is a photo-shoot for Classic Rock magazine. Further proof of where the music’s going and that the makers of it are well in control of the business side of things. Then it’s off on another tour in England. The end of a tour is the start of another tour you might say. On the strength of the new disc and the fiery live set there soon won’t be enough days in the year to play to all the people who want to listen.
After the show CD’s are as popular as tickets for a Beatles Reunion Concert. ppeople are buying several copies of the new disc, others are buying all three albums at once. The boxes empty almost as soon as they can be opened. Onstage Wayne Procter is explaining the intricacies of a drum stand to a fan while Alan Nimmo is signing autographs, posing for pictures and discussing malt whiskey. All is as it should be with the self-confessed crazy Scottish guitarist and his happy band. The next chance to catch them is 11 September at Cologne’s Yardclub. In between they will have probably toured the globe three times. Royal visits have never been so popular.