The King Blues unleashed Anarchy in Manchester The Hackney based band, brought their unique style of punk-rock and spoken word to Manchester’s Club Academy last night. They were bursting with angst and their aggressive tracks instantaneously induced a swirling pit of chaos. Typically, their songs have a political agenda, as did the Kings and Queens of Punk-rock in the 70s, but before they could play anything the supports warmed up the room.
First up were two poets, who frequent the bar Jimmy’s, in the Northern Quarter. Alex Slater and Rosie Fleeshman are really quite close, with each other featuring in the other’s poetry- despite performing individually, with different themes and styles. Slater had a more aggressive tone of voice and his intonation was not a varied as Fleeshman’s. He was clearly a patriot for Manchester with his poem ‘London’ slating London’s way of life; lack of socialising, expensive prices and inconsiderate residents. He also performed ‘Exact Same Spot’ (a particular highlight) which appeared to reflect the nation’s homelessness problem and society’s lack of proactivity to prevent the problem; referring to how they are essentially invisible in our eyes. Fleeshman focused on how she thinks of herself as a “bad feminist” and how we are too busy trying reach milestone goals we forget to live. It also happened to be her 25 th birthday, so you’ve got to admire her commitment. All of her poems were spoken with enthusiasm and a real sense of sincerity, with many of her lines gaining a few laughs too. Her voice seemed to shake where the deeper emotional lines too- adding even more authenticity to her.
Then the night moved onto The Gallerys, who play a modern sort of Brit-pop. They come in the form of a trio hailing from the Maidstone area of Kent, which just got the one whoop from the crowd. They’re a foot-tapper band, with songs that seem to draw on influences from different musical eras. ‘Paisley’ for instance sounded like a mix of traditional rock ‘n’ roll from the likes of the Beatles and Beach Boys with a bigger scoop on the rock.
‘Dr Friend’ on the other hand was much punchier and a harder assault on your ears, which worked incredibly well, moving the crowd on from the odd foot-tap to a hint of po-going.
However, none of this compared to what The King Blues had to bring. Frontman Itch was first to appear, looking a bit like an old-school gangsta (barring the pink flamingo umbrella that he was apparently dared to bring onstage). He opened with some spoken word, before the band joined him to play ‘Set The World On Fire’. As soon as that first chord hit, the audience morphed from mildly amused into a frenzy.
This pandemonium was only furthered by Itch’s reminders that Punk-rock has the power to change the world, which turned into the song ‘Let’s Hang the Landlord’. The majority of them seemed to have seen the band before too, as their response to “who’s seen us before” was met with a roar.
That wasn’t the only time they were noisy either, as Itch talked about an older album called ‘Off With Their Heads’ the response was ‘F**K Theresa May’. There was also a variety of people there, from the older generation, who lived through the Punk era and the millennials dissatisfied with the current system. The band themselves may not be charming, but what punk ever was? They’re honest to the point of brutality and bring intellectual debates to the attention of the masses, rather than drugs and sex, like most popular music.
It was also difficult to breathe by this point, because of the overwhelming the stench of body odour, sprinkled with fruity alcoholic drinks suffocated the atmosphere. Before the night showed a softer side to the band, when Itch whipped out his ukulele, for a poem he wrote about the Manchester Anena attack, he took the time to poke fun at the poets, who did a full sound check for the wrong room. He finished his poem (which was obviously met with gratitude and a sense of solidarity) by taking the time to thank everyone who donated food to a homeless soup kitchen, before the show started. He also gets a bit soppy as he’s “genuinely thankful” for people turning up and how they share a real connection, which is “few and far between” these days. They turned the volume back up and rattled on through ‘My Boulder’, ‘Heart Of A Lion’ and moved into their more Ska styled songs ‘Mr Music Man’ and ‘Headbut’.
Unless you see them live, it isn’t possible to appreciate the fire in their blood and their devotion to their cause. Or, just how heavy they can be, which is dulled on their recorded tracks.
They ended (quite rightly) on ‘Save The World Forget The Girl’ followed by Itch selling merchandise and signing bits and bobs for the fans.