With a packed house, the punk/poetry of these Hackney and south London upstarts, The King Blues, proved to anyone who had been despairing about lack of meaning in the music industry that words are not as dead as it might seem.

Far from it – they remain the unifying force that bonds fans to bands at the most intimate level.

And the support acts, Karl Phillips and the Rejects and Louise Distras and her band, had almost certainly been chosen to reinforce this point.

King Blues’ frontman Itch is a natural wordsmith and a talented performer. Not just when singing or rapping though.

He knows exactly how to literally work a crowd with gesture.

The King Blues at The Garage 2.2.2017

And his ability to deliver the seven-minute soliloquy of ‘What if Punk Never Happened’ from a silent empty stage to a rapt full house is second to none.

If, before very long, he’s not appearing in theatre plays, we’d be very surprised. We’d be equally shocked if he wasn’t writing them too.

Most importantly though was the fact that so many of the crowd didn’t just hang on Itch’s words. They picked them up and threw them straight back at him…knowing just the moments to turn that moment into a shared one.

Of course, once the band took the stage behind him things ramped up to a whole new level.

The King Blues at The Garage 2.2.2017
The King Blues at The Garage 2.2.2017

The energy in the room was something you could slice with a knife – and if it could have been harnessed it would have been more than enough to power the shiny new PA and lighting rig that has recently been installed.

The King Blues at The Garage 2.2.2017

“the tour has been life affirming, I truly feel we’re stronger than ever and I’m excited about the festival run” – Itch

The King Blues at The Garage 2.2.2017

And that’s saying something given just how LOUD this whole show was.

It was in fact almost loud enough to drown out the gasps of pain as punters were forced to pay £4 for a small can of Heineken.

Advance knowledge of these typically ridiculous prices was almost certainly the only thing responsible for the thinner crowds during the two support acts.

Early doors punters were the lucky ones – they got to see all three bands. And as the quality was so high that may have even compensated for the way the bar so rapidly drained the bank accounts of anyone with even the slightest thirst.

Karl Phillips was first up, with his relatively new band ‘The Rejects’.

These former members so of disbanded festival faves, New Groove Formation, add a deliciously powerful helping of funk and soul to Karl’s ferocious raps, and the speed of his delivery drives the whole machine along at a frightening pace.

This is music to wake you up, slap you around the face to make sure you are listening, and force you to do an hour in the gym before breakfast.

It’s perfect festival fodder too. This is the sort of sound that will draw people into a dark tent on a sunny afternoon or get them to get up and dance in the mud in front of an open stage.

We asked Karl after the show what the coming season has in store.

He said:

“We’ve got a tonne of festival dates lines up this year…and some of them are absolute crackers…but as it’s early in the year and the organisers are keeping tight lipped about things we can’t properly announce which ones just yet. So keep an eye on our site and we’ll let you know where you can check us out as soon as we are allowed. If it’s not giving too much away buy tickets to festivals beginning with ‘B’ and you’ll have a good chance of catching us in a field this summer!”

Next up was Louise Distras, a Yorshire lass from Wakefield with a lot of things to say, and the voice to say them loudly.

Lousise Distra at The Garage 2.2.2017

Performing live since 2011, Louise takes punk by the throat and shakes it like a rag doll.

She believes in protest and in the power of music to change the world.

So it’s not surprising she has been invited by Billy Bragg to play our favourite small Glastonbury stage, The Left Field.

And it’s equally unsurprising that she has already toured with or supported most of the biggest names in punk, from The Damned and The Buzzcocks to Television and Stiff Little Fingers.

We know a good thing when we see it. And we’ve just seen Louise Distras.

Talking to her on a Facebook chat she said:

“We’re having the best time on this tour! The King Blues and their fans have made me and my band feel so welcome at all the shows. We’re loving the fact that so many girls are coming up to us and telling us that after seeing us on stage they now wanna start a band! We’re so very happy to be part of this amazing movement and will be sad when tour is over!”

They may be sad – but we’ll be looking out for the band in a field this summer…promoters would be mad to miss the opportunity to put such a vibrant and important act on their stages.

The King Blues new album, The Gospel Truth, is released on 14 April.

Their tour runs throughout the UK until 3 Jun – more details at http://kingbluesofficial.com/

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