The King Blues still have their sights on the crown

Camden Crawl review

published: Thu 5th May 2011

The King Blues

Saturday 30th April to Sunday 1st May 2011
venues in Camden, London, NW1 0NE, England MAP
2-day pass £63.50, or £39.50 for either day
last updated: Wed 6th Apr 2011

How about a little mid-afternoon class war to wash down with your cider? Well, we are in Camden, where you can get a side order of anarchy with your street noodles for no extra charge.

The King Blues
For those who aren't familiar with The King Blues, they're renowned as one of the hardest-working bands in the UK, regularly propping up festivals with multiple performances and on one occasion putting in a gruelling seven shows over a single day. A Camden-based motley collective of punks, runts and skankers, they also tote songs with titles like 'We Are Fucking Angry', which gets thrown into their set with suitable aplomb today. There's a fairly steady stream of agitprop doled out between tracks, which is lapped up by the mostly teenaged audience.

Yet in spite of the slightly 2D posturing, there's an undeniable vitality burning at the heart of this band, and it's difficult not to be won over as they rip through their material loud, fast and hard. Current single 'Set The World On Fire' sounds hackneyed on record, but is a boot to the teeth live, frontman Johnny 'Itch' Fox's pithy verses translating effortlessly to the stage. The trick is also repeated with the band's softer material, with a little crowd participation transforming 'Headbutt' into a fist-pumping rabble rouser.

'Mr Music Man' introduces a suitably sunny reggae vibe to offset the roaring punk rap that is the band's staple, while it's cowbells a go-go for 'The Streets Are Ours', dedicated to those arrested for disorder before and during Friday's royal wedding.

Less appealing is the soppy 'I Got Love', which sounds a bit like a terrible cover of Tracey Chapman's 'Fast Car', and nearly succeeds in dousing all that righteous firestarting with a big dollop of sentimentality.

However, they manage to pull it back with fan favourite 'Save The World, Get The Girl', a slice of ska-tinged anti-war pop which vaguely channels Billy Bragg's 'New England' and features some fantastic, in-your-face sloganeering. Rage Against The Machine this is not, but it's an entertaining romp nonetheless, and undeniably chimes with the fury the warmongering of the last decade has provoked among many of us.

While at certain moments watching The King Blues can feel a bit like being preached to by a drunk bloke on the night bus, it's still an enjoyable experience. Their politics may be squarely rammed down your throat whether you like it or not, but it's still fairly digestable stuff, and delivered with such a winning mix of fervour and fun that you can't help but get swept along.

The King Blues
review by: Nick Hagan

photos by: Nick Hagan

Saturday 30th April to Sunday 1st May 2011
venues in Camden, London, NW1 0NE, England MAP
2-day pass £63.50, or £39.50 for either day
last updated: Wed 6th Apr 2011

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