Live at Regents Canal (Shoreditch) on Saturday, 7th July 2012
To Kill A King were, without a doubt, my favourite 'find' of last year. I am also proud to say that they are initially borne out of our very own Yorkshire soil, with the majority of the band meeting at Leeds University. I can only enthuse about what they are doing and I, amongst a handful of lucky people across the UK, had our first live experience of To Kill A King early this year, seeing the 5 piece play an intimately beautiful gig in our very own front rooms! So when I heard their next venture was 'Guerrilla Gigs', I signed up immediately, in the vain hope I would be picked to attend. As luck would have it, I was one of the chosen few. On the day of the event, armed with only a hand drawn map, alcohol and friends, I headed to Old St Tube station. From here, I (and around 50 others) followed the directions to the 'secret location', ending up under a bridge on Regents Canal in Shoreditch.
On arrival, I found the band pinning up lights, while the growing crowd were looking on, a little bewildered, but displaying a growing excitement. So with the guitars tuned and cello at rest, we are introduced to Alex Vargus, who is to open the proceedings. He takes to the floor, with a guitar in hand and sings four beautiful, bluesy, folk influenced songs. He has a fantastic range and a gravelly tone, singing songs of love and heartbreak. As he plays, people are curiously starting to gather on the other side of the canal and a few cyclists appreciatively ring their bells at the end of his performance. A humble Alex then puts down his guitar and blends back in to the group. I get the sense that this is going to be a very special night!
Suitably warmed, Ralph introduces the band and discusses with humour, his altercation with the security guard. Trying to assure him that they are well behaved boys, whilst two friends are relieving themselves into a nearby bush, shouting and waving at him! Perfect timing boys!! After a long journey from Leeds, I was rather pleased we were allowed to continue and full marks to Ralph on his powers of persuasion.
Jokes aside, the atmosphere surrounding us is emotionally charged as To Kill A King armed with only a cello, a guitar and a bottle full of sand, open with the beautiful 'Family'. This is a tale interwoven with deep emotion, written at home one Christmas. It hits you full weight when the cello and the stunningly precise harmonies from the rest of the band joins this soaring and emotive delivery. They continue with songs from the familiar 'My Crooked Saint EP', delivering the deep and dark 'Bloody Shirt'. This is deliciously melancholic music at its best and To Kill A Kings' acoustic folk style, lends itself well to this setting, and the stripped bare acoustic set. Looking around, stunned faces are transfixed by the note perfect pitching from every band member, capturing the attention of passers by, silencing them and stopping them in their tracks. They lead gloriously in to the equally dark 'Hospital Worker', hanging on to every note, every word, as the power of Ralphs richly warm and heart-rending vocal connects deep within your soul.
Next up is Fictional State, when I am suddenly aware of the pin-drop silence which allows you to hear every breath between lines, the rustle in the trees, and the droplets of water from the rain falling into the river, while we take shelter in the warmest place in London. To Kill A King adopt an inclusive attitude toward their music and their ever growing fan base, I don't doubt they feel the love every time they play, laughing and joking between songs, it is like sitting in a lounge with friends.
Ralph announces a new song, written yesterday, called 'standing in front of the mirror'. They decide that they love it so much; they want to share it with us. If this is a taste of things to come, I can not wait for the debut album. From this they delve into an old song, 'bones', before introducing Robbie from Youth Imperial for their last song. He emerges from the onlookers to join the boys for 'Howling'. This opens up with an Elvis style guitar riff, Robbie's vocal adds a deeper delicious tone against Ralph's beautiful falsetto, perfectly rounded off with a stunningly resonant cello from Josh. This is a goose bump moment! Despite the fact they get a word wrong, but hell, this is live music, they laugh it off and absolutely nail the rest. So at the end of the night I leave with some new friends and another unforgettable evening with To Kill A King.
These boys are the hardest working band I know, tirelessly touring the country playing in train stations, flower shops, record stores, to name a few. They have their very own 'Play all things', a London based night supporting a variety of artists and weekly 'Ralphs Balcony sessions', in collaboration with some great musicians. These boys mean business!
If you like the sound of this, go and download for FREE from www.wordofmouthep.com, you will not be disappointed!