The King Blues
@ Leeds Cockpit

I do like being hectored! From my early gig-going days, I’ve enjoyed bands like Crass, The Clash, Billy Bragg, Stiff Little Fingers, and so on, that use their music as a weapon and aren’t ashamed of that. The King Blues stand up and tell us what they think. They begin by spray-painting their name across the banner backdrop before hitting off with some ska. They’re an unlikely looking bunch – a stocky bloke on acoustic guitar, a chavvy street boy singer playing a mini-guitar, a jiving and jumping asian guy on guitar and a grinning, bearded drummer. Between them they wander between reggae and ska. They’ve not really got the rhythm section for real reggae but they make a fair approximation. It’s like Levellers ska.

They are supporting Capdown tonight, on their farewell tour, and it’s not hard to get the crowd going. In fact, there seems to be more bouncing to this set than Capdown’s – but then The King Blues lend themselves more to moving about. Capdown’s drummer joins the ban for a bit and so does Jake on sax. The singer bigs up Capdown, praises them and exorts us to “’ave it”. There are times when the songs might be bland on record but he works the crowd hard – even, at the end, committing the crime of splitting the crowd in two for a singing competition….

The lead singer climbs onto the speakers and gets us all to tell the BNP to ‘f**k off’ en masse. Throwing gangsta hand moves in his Sarf London rude boy style, he reminds us many times that Yorkshire doesn’t need that sort of crap. And you know what? He’s right.
He dedicates a song to Burma – “Take The Streets Back”. The music is easy to listen to and fun. They run reggae basslines and throw in a rhythm breakdown to basics that engages. He does a good imitation of Joe Strummer in second from last song “Let’s Steal A Car” before wrapping it up with one of their oldest numbers – “Mr Music Man”. This one could as well be Musical Youth – no politics, just toasting and bopping fun. When the set ends, thirty minutes has passed in a flash.

Ross McGibbon