Review: To Kill A King – Scala, London

to-kill-a-king

To Kill A King (TKAK) arrived at Scala this past Wednesday night, flying high. On the back of a sold out tour with Bastille, it was now their name on the top of the bill. By the time the band had arrived on stage, the place was packed and the intermittent (and slightly erratic) smoke machine had created a dark mist that gave their two-part opening number, Gasp/The Reflex all the impact that is central to what these five guys are all about . The brewing gale then erupted into the tumultuous and explosive Cold Skin. The room buzzed with a swirl of indie fever that gives mankind hope that music is not yet turning in its grave.

Much has already been made of primary songwriter and lead vocalist, Ralph Pelleymounter – and for good reason. From start to finish he was impeccable; his stirring barotone voice suited the intimacy of the setting and was hauntingly effective when the calmer beginnings of We Used To Protest/Gamble and Family granted him the audience’s unfaltering attention.

The first of their two encore songs was a rendition of I Work Nights and You Work Days which Pelleymounter opened beautifully, accompanied only by his own attempt at the keys. The singer claimed that he was “most nervous” about his ability on this instrument but exhibited no frailty whatsoever. His connection with the front line of whimpering teenage girls hardly needed much effort on his part, but one anecdote between songs of how a fanatical train driver had rigged the screens inside his train to read the title of TKAK’s Word of Mouth EP when stopping at a station worked particularly nicely when it turned out the train driver was in the crowd. Pelleymounter’s bashful giggle would only have endeared him further to his female following.

Sometimes with bands, so much is said about the talent of the frontman that it is easy to ignore how sparse it would all sound without his mates beside him. Undoubtedly, this is true of TKAK, for this is a band whose most valuable asset is the sound of five vocalists who happen to also be versatile musicians. It became a prominent feature during the climactic segments of Rays and Funeral and, as their set closed with Choices, it became apparent at how many anthems they already have under their belts. Howling came halfway through and was perhaps the highlight. The soaring vocals of Ian Dudfield (electric guitar), Josh Platman (bass), Joe Clark (keys) and Jon Willoughby (drums), along with the seemingly limitless energy with which they pulverised their respective accompanying instruments, achieved a burst of euphoria that would send other with envy.

After their romping and vigorous encore recital of Fictional State, (which saw Dudfield jump barefoot onto the piled up speakers and tear through the fog with a roaring guitar solo) you were left with feeling that you had not yet experienced the eye of the storm. It should be noted that this is emphatically to their credit, as they have crafted such a uniquely mature recorded and live style in every aspect.

Tom Buckman