19th August 2018
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Storming King King rock blues festival

Alan Nimmo of headliners King King. Photo: Dave Donaldson.

Alan Nimmo of headliners King King. Photo: Dave Donaldson.

The British Legion in Lerwick played witness to a storming performance from blues festival headliners King King on Saturday evening.

Festival organiser Jimmy Carlyle hailed it as “one of the best nights ever” and said the weekend as a whole had generated nothing but positive reactions from bands and audiences alike.

Around 750 people attended the five paid-for gigs over the three days, with sell-out crowds of 200 at the Legion on both Friday and Saturday. The third night at the Legion was also close to being fully subscribed, while gigs at Scal­loway and Brae drew audiences of around 100 and 50 people respectively.

“We’re chuffed to bits with the reaction we’ve had,” he said. “The highlight for me is that every­body went away happy, every band went down a storm. There was no band that we got any negative stuff back from and all the local bands have helped support us very well. It gives you something to build on.”

An electric blues outfit, King King had the dance floor filled throughout their almost relentless set and, despite having been together for barely a year, the in-band dynamics are more akin to those of a much more well-established act – albeit with the freshness of an outfit which has not been touring for years.

Frontman Alan Nimmo’s stellar guitar-playing and solos were complemented superbly by the eye-catching and skilful keyboard playing of Bennett Holland, a man who has previously appeared on stage with outstanding Sheffield singer-songwriter Richard Hawley, and the tight rhythm section of bassist Lindsay Coulson and Dave Raeburn on drums.

Nimmo’s vocals, which he has honed through his role as one half of the award-winning Nimmo Brothers, were more passionate than they were brilliant. But there was more than enough variety in the set to sustain the hour or so on stage, combining covers and original material from their four-track EP Broken Heal. Its title track alone would make the £5 investment a worthwhile one.

Earlier on Saturday evening, the packed venue had been entertained by the rocked-up sound of Gwyn Ashton’s Two Man Blues Army. They had been billed as somewhere between Seasick Steve, the White Stripes and Jimi Hendrix; the dynamic thumping from young drummer Kevin Hickman certainly recalled Jack White’s band in places.

But there was also more than a small nod to 1980s hair-rock in there too, as the Welsh-born Ashton – who emigrated to Australia back in the 1960s – crashed through a series of loud and upbeat covers to powerful effect. Perhaps less successful was a cover of Etta James’ I Just Wanna Make Love To You, best known for soundtracking a 1990s advert for Diet Coke.

It was good to see tight local bar room blues outfit the Rumshack Blues Band in action, and especially heartening to see singer Rory Gillies back on form and in full health.

They certainly managed to get a fair few stragglers up on the dance floor, although their addition of a saxophone player is an experiment which does not exactly pay dividends.

They had followed expert slide player Kevin Brown who opened the night with some precise acoustic guitar work and thoughtful lyrics on some self-penned tracks during an adept 30-minute set.

Neil Riddell