King King, The Damn Truth, Sheffield 2022

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The Leadmill may have been worrying about storm Eunice; however, there was only King King that were ever going to blow the roof off the venue this weekend!

Sheffield: The Leadmill – 19 February 2022

I have now been a resident of South Yorkshire for over fifteen years, but amazingly, this was my first ever visit to The Leadmill, the legendary Sheffield city venue. I've been reliably informed that it has been revamped on several occasions since its opening back in 1980. The wide stage means that a good view of the band is affordable from most areas.

I'd heard a lot of good things about Montreal's finest The Damn Truth, but this was my first time hearing and seeing the Canadian quartet. It was obvious from the get-go that this was a band used to the live arena, having toured in recent years with ZZ Top, Styx and Rival Sons. Indeed, the latter are one band I would point to if describing their sound, albeit with Janis Joplin on lead vocals. You can well imagine the group just stepped out of a Scooby Doo van and onto the stage at The Leadmill. For half an hour we were transported back to the late sixties/early seventies for a captivating performance of hard rocking Psychedelic Blues, mainly taken from their 2021 opus 'Now Or Nowhere'. The sound (intentionally) was very bass heavy, but fortunately a good mix meant the vocals and guitar of Lee-la Baum, lead guitar of Tom Shemer, plus drums of Dave Traina were not over-powered by PY Letellier, who prowled round the stage in a semi-hypnotic trance.

Although this is an extremely tight-knit foursome, as an observer you are naturally drawn to the enigmatic, constantly smiling, front-woman Baum, and her amazing Joplin-like vocals. If after the opening salvo of 'This Is Who We Are Now', 'Full On You' and 'Too Late' (where Baum exchanged her guitar for a tambourine) there was any doubt about her phenomenal vocal prowess, it was laid to rest with the exceptional 'Lonely'. She then dedicated 'Only Love' to every one of us; the single has been receiving heavy airplay on Planet Rock in recent times. I'm unsure of the wisdom of a drum solo when you're an opening act, but mercifully, it was kept short. Shemer then strapped on a Flying-V for set closer 'Tomorrow', and the crowd noise had gone up multiple decibels as the band left the stage. If you get the opportunity to see these modern-day hippies, check 'em out; you won't be disappointed, and that's The Damn Truth!

Setlist: This Is Who We Are Now / Full On You / Too Late / Lonely / Only Love / Look Innocent / Tomorrow

This gig was originally scheduled for April 2020, so it was fantastic that at long last it eventually happened. King King have had several line-up changes since I last saw them support Europe back in September 2018. Original founding member Alan Nimmo and Jonny Dyke remain, but there's a whole new rhythm section of Zander Greenshields (bass) and Andrew Scott (drums), plus the addition of a second guitarist, and frontman Alan's older brother Stevie Nimmo.

The band took to the stage to the intro of the AC/DC classic 'Highway To Hell' and the King King Choir were already in full voice. Opening with the Thunder-like '(She Don't) Gimme No Loving' from 2017's 'Exile & Grace' the sound was excellent from the start. 'Fire In My Soul' and 'One World' were early indications of how seamlessly the songs from 2020's 'Maverick' opus fitted alongside the stalwart numbers from any King King live set. Whilst 'Maverick' saw them move closer to the mainstream, they still managed to maintain their Blues roots.

Nimmo welcomed the fans seeing the band for the first time before 'Waking Up', which included a (deliberate?) pause when they got to the line, "Stand Up'; amusingly he realised that we already were all stood up. I had my reservations that the band might be a bit ring-rusty following the COVID enforced hiatus, particularly Alan Nimmo's vocals, but there was no such indication. At this point in the set, they seemed to shift up a few gears, beginning with the classic 'Rush Hour', which included band introductions. Dyke's Hammond organ introduced the Blues ballad 'A Long History Of Love', whilst fan-favourite 'You Stopped The Rain' featured a fantastic guitar solo from Alan Nimmo.

There were frequent mentions of the awful two years that we have all experienced and several songs dedicated to the fact, including 'Everything Will Be Alright' and the Country-Blues of 'Coming Home (Rest Your Eyes)'; 'Whatever It Takes To Survive' being even more personal to get over the loss of a loved one. The main set concluded with the brilliant 'I Will Not Fall', with Stevie Nimmo finally getting to let rip on his six-string. The addition of the second guitarist along with his superb backing vocals has been a real positive for the already consummate group.

The band left the stage for a couple of minutes before the Nimmo brothers and Dyke returned for 'When My Winter Comes'. Arguably the song of the evening was the epic 'Stranger To Love' featuring Alan Nimmo's impressive quiet guitar solo. The majority of the seven to eight hundred (estimate) in attendance held their breath in respectful silence, but still a few fuckwits felt the need to talk all the way through it! When will they ever learn? There was just time for 'Let Love In' from 2013's 'Standing In The Shadows' before the band and fans-alike left with smiles on their faces. The Leadmill may have been worrying about storm Eunice; however, there was only King King that were ever going to blow the roof off the venue this weekend!

Setlist:- (She Don't) Gimme No Loving / Fire In My Soul / One World / Waking Up / Rush Hour / A Long History Of Love / You Stopped The Rain / Everything Will Be Alright / Coming Home (Rest Your Eyes) / Whatever It Takes To Survive / I Will Not Fall
Encore: When My Winter Comes / Stranger To Love / Let Love In

Mark Donnelly

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