Town Hall, Birmingham
First gig of the year and good to be out and about, despite the determined nip in the air. Missed my first train so missed the support. Spot on 8.30 and a six piece band ran on: keyboards, drums, double bass, cello, violin, guitar and synth, followed by Kenny, the elfin and eponymous King, beaming his wide-mouthed grin. A vaguely space theme inhabited the costumes, all silver leggings, NASA T shirts and, for the frontman, lots of glitter eyeliner. Nary a word and straight into You Just Want, the opener from unlikely hit album, 12 in theAW poll, the band just right for his organic motorik, a successful hybrid between fey(ish) folk and acceleratively drummed drones. 3 songs before a word, that being for introductions and a brief question around the love life status of the audience, involving a brief waltz with woman from the front row, conducted at the edge of the seating. Love Life the song followed, if anything more yearning yet propulsive than the original. The whole of Astronaut Meets Appleman followed, albeit in different order to the record, the otherwise somewhat indulgent Peter Rabbit Tea steering right over the kitsch, the vocal, his infant son, I guess, coming from a dictaphone held to the mike. Along the way we learnt the recipe for his onstage tipple: red wine, still water, coca-cola and orange juice, yeuch, and his opinions of wind turbines, ahead of a terrific version of Melin Wynt (welsh for windmill.) All too soon it was the “end”, the band lying down behind their instruments for a moment, ahead of popping up again, feigning surprise. This encore , as long as the show, was a mix of older songs, some known to me, some not, yet all kosmische winsomeness. The first song was sung and performed by the merch guy, in a sense of collectiveness. And, in case the audience had not got his influences, we were instructed into a “good old kraut-rock chorus” to join in with, as the setlist gradually drew to a close. A proper encore and off, just after 10. Consummate.
A mix of ages and tropes, surprisingly few of the plaid shirt, beards ‘n’ beanies one might expect, the trawler man chic of the east neuk, and older, largely than I was expecting. The hall half full or half empty, the former I think, but all affectionate and knowing of his oeuvre. A few faces I recognised, regulars at the shows I frequent. Possibly other closet AWistas.
It made me think..
What a wonderful late bloom. Plugging away for aeons, 40 odd records under his belt, suddenly now, in his fiftieth year, fame of a sort has hit him. It almost doesn’t matter if he keeps it up but I hope he does and hope he can.