To celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Joiners To Kill A King made their third appearance at the venue for their sell out show. Clutching a beer that I knew would inevitably be spilled throughout the course of the evening, I made my way through the crowd to secure my spot before the first act arrived on stage.
Support act Keston Cobblers Club took to the stage. After listening to their first song, I knew I had to leave with their album. Playing music that can simply be described as ‘beautifully infectious’, the quintet from Kent create a sound that is modern folk, using an array of instruments and perfect harmonies. Armed with a ukulele, accordion, tuba, trumpets, mandolin and carousel bells just to name a few, the band produced songs that were catchy and had the entire room tapping their feet along. Highlights of the set were the single ‘Beam’, which contained a fun audience sing-a-long moment (Ah! – Meh! – Ri! – Cah!) as well as the emotional ‘Half Full’, which starts as a slow ballad and progresses into an authentic dance along hit that you can imagine being played at a barn dance.
Part of the band’s charm was their permanent smiles and interaction with the crowd and each other; they clearly love and believe in the music they are making. The band’s youtube page has only a modest amount of views, yet hosts a collection of live performances as well as creative music videos which thoroughly deserve a greater audience.
After an explosive and climatic end to the Cobblers set, it seemed illogical for the headliners To Kill A King to open with a slow song. Fortunately, they started their set with a fast instrumental which then lead into latest single ‘Rays’, with its instantly memorable guitar riff and anthemic chorus that declares ‘Wash away my mistakes’. The frontman and fantastically named Ralph Pelleymounter is an instantly likeable character; between songs he is comical and interacts humbly with the crowd. His voice has a distinctive tone that doesn’t waste any lyrics, as each line is delivered as fresh as the day they were written. ‘Howling’ begins ominously with precise and delicate harmonies, before escalating into a dramatic emotional tale which concludes in the same light as it started, depicting the raw emotions of loneliness, beautifully executed by the quintet.
A nice touch by the band was paying homage to the late Lou Reed with a wonderful cover of ‘Walk on the Wild Side’. The frontman has a cheeky and deviant grin on his face, as he sings Reed’s lines ‘But she never lost her head, even when she was giving head’, mirrored by the responding audience.
The standout moment of the night was fan favourite ‘Choices’, which the crowd could have sung on behalf of the singer, especially the emphasis of key lyrics ‘This is how the summer ends / Eyes are open finally’ and ending the song with a graceful chorus of ‘oooos’. An excellent live rendition of this song featuring Bastille and other friends of the band can be found on youtube.
Although a sterling live performance from To Kill A King and a fine addition to any mellow ipod playlist, the Keston Cobblers Club stole the show for me.