Things are back to some sort of normality. It feels like the world has turned full circle. The last band I should have seen prior to ‘Lockdown One’ was The K’s at Liverpool Arts Club in April, 2020. The gig happened, but I decided against it. So I couldn’t have been happier to have got tickets to The K’s next gig back in the city, and I hoped my patience would be rewarded.
As I stepped down the steep staircase in to the basement of Jimmy’s I needed to wait just a little while longer. First on tonight’s bill was one of Liverpool’s slew of talented singer-songwriters, Mason Owens. He’s a straight-up, no-nonsense artist. There’s just him, his acoustic guitar, and his scouse accented vocals. He seems to have a hatful of great songs about the human condition which he delivers with a passion. Mason wears his influences on his sleeve. In his song Stoned In The Valleys you can hear traces of John Martyn, and in Dock Road you can feel the pull of Michael Head/Shack. He’s a talented guitarist who doesn’t need effect pedals to grab your attention and has a great voice. I wish him well in his crowded field.
Nearly there. One to go. Tameside’s five-piece ROLLA stride purposefully on to the compact Jimmy’s stage to the rather incongruous, but surprisingly effective strains of ABBA’s Gimme Gimme Gimme! In a similar way that the musical DNA of my demographic is coated in The Beatles, then a certain age group of Mancunian musicians cannot escape the all encompassing orbit of Oasis. ROLLA unashamedly fit that profile. Singer James Gilmore has the stretched-up larynx, and elongated vowel vocal delivery of a more accessible Liam Gallagher. Gilmore is more welcoming, there is less aloofness, he wants to beckon you in. Luke McConnell is an able lead guitarist and his riffs expand to fill any gaps in ROLLA‘s wall of noise. They have a slow tune – The Way We’re Living – but most songs are straight-up Brit-pop era, rock and roll bangers. They play a song titled Thinking of Tomorrow, which in style and tempo has a feel of The Hives, and their final tune Sweet Lullaby is anything but! No baby is sleeping through that. If you’re looking for a contemporary touchstone then look no further than the excellent Edinburgh band – The Rah’s.
And so to our headliners. Earlestown’s finest –The K’s. Players of frantic, frenetic, Modernist tinted, indie, guitar, rock music. If you drew one of those rock family-tree things you would find The K’s at the tip of a leaf, at the end of a branch, passing through The Kinks, The Jam, and the Kaiser Chiefs. The band started confidently with a new song – Picture, before hitting the bouncing, packed, profusely perspiring audience with Got a Feeling, and their most recent single TV. A couple more new songs followed – Chancer and Relying On You before the crowd went berserk for Glass Towns.
Singer Jamie Boyle looked like he was attempting to waterboard his sweaty-self with a bottle of Highland Spring before playing an acoustic song – Hoping Maybe. Hometown another new song, fits seamlessly into The K’s cannon of work – you’d have sworn you’d heard it before – and it was a perfect segue into the final triumvirate of songs – Aurora, Sarajevo, and Dacton. During this final song Boyle stage-dived into the by now frenzied audience, indulged in a bit of crowd surfing, and became entangled in the lights. At one point he looked to be in severe danger of being decapitated by the rotating spotlights! In the end he was safely deposited back on stage to finish the set with nothing more than what I am reliably informed was a ‘slight bump’.
Ryan Breslin gave his usual virtuoso performance on lead guitar. Jordan Holden pounded the ‘pots and pans’ with vigour, and the ever genial Dexter Baker smiled contagiously, and obeyed each request to ‘show us your bass’. Truly, The K’s were on fire, it will take a deluge to douse it.
Patience is a virtue.