I was dubious before heading to The Haunt to see The King Blues. It was a cold evening and I was going to the gig alone, so the walk to the seafront was less than appetizing. Still, clutching at my water bottle filled with the remnants of the previous evening’s bottle of wine, I set off, excited to see what my long-time favourite ska punks would be offering this time around.
The King Blues announced their return to music in 2015 after a string of misdemeanours and spats between members had led to the apparent ending of the band in 2012. Tonight would be their first time back in Brighton playing a headline show, promoting their comeback album ‘The Gospel Truth’.
The Haunt was the perfect venue: intimate, dark and rather warm, with a stage that comes up to be level with the crowd’s thighs. As I arrived, first support Millie Manders And The Shut Up were just closing their set. The ska-punk six piece were commanding the stage, Millie’s voice soaring across the venue. During the break between the acts I began to notice the diversity of the crowd gathering, a whole spectrum of fans with a tastes clearly rooted in punk music. Second support act Riskee And The Ridicule fill up the room with more a ska-punk noise delivered with a genuine swagger. It’s clear to see this band are experienced in getting a crowd going, as a mini mosh pit begans to form in the opening at the front of the stage.
Between sets, the authenticity of the community at this show bleeds through. People around me chatter and introduce themselves, whilst members of the support acts jump down from the stage to wrestle their way to the bar. By the time The King Blues take to the stage I’m friends with the people stood around me.
The crowd bursts into thunderous applause as lead singer Itch takes to the stage to open the night with a solo spoken word rendition of fan favourite ‘What If Punk Never Happened?’ it’s a testament to the dedication of The King Blues fan’s when most of the room shouts back the lyrics of the six minute long track. The rest of the band take to the stage and the evening kicks off, in the way any King Blues show should expect to, with high octane non-stop energy and plenty of rowdy dancing. As I stood centre front of the stage, I was repeatedly slammed forward as the crowd became more and more enthralled by the extensive set list, which spanned across the highlights of their entire career.
The show is driven by Itch, his energy and on-stage presence mirrored by the crowd’s reaction. Faces light up as 2006 hit ‘We Ain’t Never Done’ gets an outing, showing that despite the turbulent course of their career this is a band that hold longevity and passion in the hearts of their audience. Despite only being released on April 14th new songs ‘Bullingdon Boys’ and ‘Heart Of A Lion’ receive some of the best receptions of the night, lyrics already learned and brandished back to the stage by the crowd.
The show is well rehearsed, and as much as it has all the authenticity of any punk infused show, the band are sharp and clearly experienced in tearing through the twenty four song set. By the time the encore closes and the lights go up, there is not one unsatisfied face in the room with the majority of the crowd piling to the merchandise stand to meet the band.
Looking at the current political landscape of the England, perhaps The King Blues return was a natural reaction. Maybe they’re just what the punk scene really needs. If tonight’s show is anything to go by they certainly have their best shot aimed to continue to rise up again.