Review: To Kill A King at The Joiners, Southampton

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Their soul-infused indie rock showed signs of their own sound developing past their influences - a strong, tight set that hopefully will lead on to richer sounds.

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It’s now at a point where I’ll go to any gig at The Joiners without knowing anything about the bands playing because I’ve never left that building disappointed. So when Childcare, a band that Xavier Voigt-Hill hasn’t stopped talking about for months, came on stage with frontman Ed wearing a “Pizza Slut” t-shirt, I knew it was probably going to be, at the very least, an interesting night. They were once described by Toby Leveson as:“Take Everything Everything and add a bit of Wolf Alice with a frontman who thinks he’s in Slaves and you’ll get these guys,” which is a disturbingly accurate description.

With an incredibly strong setlist, featuring songs from their Made Simple EP (that received four stars from us), their fantastic sound and eccentricity had me won over from their ‘Omega Grey’ opener. I particularly enjoyed songs where bassist Emma’s vocals were alongside Ed’s, like ‘Kiss?’ – though both have different style voices, they work very well together and I think you would struggle to find a duo with better harmonies. Their as-yet-unreleased songs, ‘Big Man’ (where the lights overwhelmed everything and prompted a restart), ‘Jumble’, ‘Magazines’ (with super crazy lighting), were as well-received by the crowd as their existing singles and EP, the latter actually having my new favourite lyrics of all time: “I know who you are/I know where you sleep/and I bet that you/you like potpourri”, inspired by a middle-class Big Issue seller, apparently.

The headliners of the night, To Kill A King, have built themselves up a small but dedicated following over the last few years. The quintet has supported Bastille and played some major festivals since their first record in 2011, and they have the ease and stage presence of a band who have been on the circuit for a long time. Their frontman, the excellently named and impressively bearded Ralph Pelleymounter, has a voice with that vulnerable edge popularised by Ben Howard and others but manages to bring an element of soul into what would otherwise be some fairly generic Pitchfork-baiting indie rock. Though quite reminiscent of Mumford and Sons if they collaborated with Bloc Party with a little bit of Franz Ferdinand chucked in for good measure, their setlist showed a distinct sound of their own peeking through.

On a stage decorated with arbitrary roses, the band opened their set with perhaps their best-known song, the catchy guitar ballad ‘Bloody Shirt’, before a set full of material from their latest album. They included a fantastic cover of the Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’, in memory of the late Dolores O’Riordan, which they infused with the rage and anger of the original. At times, To Kill A King veered into slightly heavier territory, making the most of the roar in Pelleymounter’s voice and crashing guitars, but their best moments were arguably the addition of electronica. Looping synths and keyboard player Ben Jackson’s distinctive falsetto brought an edge of something far more interesting and unique to the set, particularly on the opening of ‘The Good Old Days’. This band are excellent at what they do, solidly dependable alt-rock, but hopefully, this album will herald the turn of something a little more subversive and rich than prior records.

To Kill A King’s latest album, The Spiritual Dark Age, is out now on Xtra Mile Recordings.

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Third year PAIR student and live editor. Also the Wessex Scene's Head of Events. Fan of cats, gigs and a tea lover - find me rambling about politics and cats @_Carly_May on Twitter.

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Second year languages student, mostly sorts out the illustrations for Wessex Scene, but enjoys seeing live music when allowed out.

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