My second trip to the Joiners couldn’t have been filled with a better night of music. I had the opportunity to chat with Ralph Pelleymounter and Josh Platman from To Kill A King before the show (interview coming soon on The Edge) and they seemed very excited to be returning to The Joiners after their show at the beginning of the year. First on were Winterhours. Their comforting style of folk rock music was awesome to hear and they were definitely a suited support act for the main act of the night. Alex Dunne the frontman oozed professionalism and had a great stage presence. The next support act was a female solo artist called Lula. Her vocal ability was unquestionable as she sang out with confidence. I was very impressed by her set, it was made different from the thousands of female singers out there by her creative use of auto-tune (and various other mic effects). She utilised the effects to empower her vocals and add another dimension rather than improve them. We already had proof of her spectacular voice. Lula very much reminded me of the American singer Imogen Heap.
To Kill A King started their set with ‘Funeral’. A brilliantly upbeat number contrary to the connotations that come with the title. Ian Dudfield played the synonymous guitar intro setting a very impressive bar from the onset. ‘Bloody Shirt‘ was next, one of my personal favourites, from their My Crooked Saint EP. Fans of TKAK will automatically recognise the song from it’s opening notes. The chorus demonstrated how many fans had turned up as it was quite the sing-a-long indeed. The band’s harmonious togetherness was demonstrated on the next song, ‘Wolves’. We started to see vocal harmonies that were a sign of things to come for the rest of the show. These tight harmonies continued in their most recent single ‘Howling‘. It’s spine-tingling, minimalistic chorus had such an impact that you could literally hear a pin drop as we waited for Ralph to come in with his beautiful falsetto vocals. The moments like this emphasised the tightness of the group and highlighted the brilliance of their Word of Mouth EP.
Going into the latter half of the set they played some older songs such as ‘We Used to Protest/Gamble’ and ‘Cold Skin’. Following these came a cover in which they don’t perform live very often, ‘Maps’ (originally by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs). Preceding the song Ralph told an anecdote from earlier in the tour about two drunk guys repeatedly requesting this cover… even after it was played! Next came a song which usually involves extra vocals (often performed by Dan Smith from Bastille) called ‘Choices’. Lula came back on stage and joined the band to perform this song. It was beautiful, a definite highlight. It sadly came to the final song, but to my delight it was ‘Fictional State‘. This song in particular shows off frontman Ralph Pelleymounter’s lyrical craftsmanship and storytelling ability.
They came back on stage for an encore with Ralph declaring that he really “just needed a wee” and they weren’t into the whole encore business. This was the point in the set where they decided to flaunt their acoustic abilities. They performed the next track, a new one, ‘Standing in Front of the Mirror’ completely unplugged. This gave fans a taster of what To Kill A King sound like in the living rooms gigs they are known for; highlighting their versatility as a band. To finish they played ‘Family’. A great end to an amazing night at The Joiners.
I was lucky enough for my night not to end there. I was invited along to one of To Kill A King’s famous living room sessions at a student house on Bedford Place, about twenty five of us crammed into a small student bedroom for some great unplugged music. A fantastic new band called Brother Co. were first up. They are a three piece Southampton based acoustic band made up of Paul Saunders, Nathan Thomas and Cal Lewis. It was a shame they only played four songs as they have a lot of potential. A massive thumbs up from me! To Kill A King followed with a short acoustic set. Josh Platman swapped his bass guitar for a cello; a simple change that enhanced the acoustic performance. They played the likes of ‘Bloody Shirt’, ‘Choices’ and finished with ‘Funeral’ (the people’s choice). Hearing the same songs in the two different mediums and settings (gig venue vs. living room) again highlighted their diversity as a band. If you don’t have To Kill A King in your life by now, do so, and fast.
You can buy To Kill A King’s Word of Mouth EP on iTunes here and look out for a debut album in early 2013.
Photography and filming by Megan Downing.