Ever since Brexit and the rise of Trump in America, the more hopeful amongst us have been looking forward to one thing: the turbulent rebirth of mainstream punk music. Whilst The King Blues have had something of a rocky few years, the political message they and support act Louise Distras sent out tonight was loud and clear: “no hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here,” as the support act chanted at the end of their set.
Distras (6) is a four-piece girl band fronted by the eponymous Louise, who gave the Manchester audience a lash of fast and furious 90s styled punk riffing ala NOFX or Anti-Flag. The poem she reads before “The Hand You Hold” hits as hard as some of the pummelling bass riffs or screamed vocals in faster songs like “Aileen”. The band interpolate DJ Otzi’s infamous “Hey Baby” into a clever protest chant that went something like this: “Hey, Donald Trump, we wanna know why you’re such a ….” Fill in the blanks yourself.
Before long, it’s time for The King Blues (7), or as they might more accurately be known, the Itch show. That isn’t an awful thing, however, as the bands only original member and frontman is a natural showman; engaging, witty and eminently watchable.
He begins the show solo, performing the rallying “What If Punk Never Happened,” peppering the track with references to the state of modern politics and drawing great cheers of support from the rowdy crowd.
After that the band, dressed all in black, contrasting Itch’s stylish all-green suit, walk onto the stage to kick the show into overdrive with “Let’s Hang The Landlord,” which followed by the firey “Set The World On Fire” and “I Want You” gets the crowd bouncing and mosh pits forming.
After a few more upbeat songs the band leave the stage so Itch can perform a four song solo set on his ukele. He sings his way through the wonderfully honest yet biting “Underneath This Lampost Light” and “Out of Luck,” along with the more straightforwardly soppy “Poems and Songs” and the outright aggresive “Shooting Fascists” which could not have come at a more poignant time, after anti-Trump protests took place across the country.
The group re-emerge to perform another few songs, this time with more of a ska twist in sound, performing predominately upbeat songs with dancey rhythmns that get the crowd grooving.
The two new songs the band blast through, “Heart of a Lion” and “Bullingdon Boys,” both get the crowd moving, even if they don’t yet know every word. The simple chorus of “Bullingdon Boys” gets picked up by the crowd throughout the song though and by the end most of the room are screaming the words right back at Itch and co.
After ending their main set with “When The Revoloution Comes,” a short call to arms from their 2012 record Long Live The Struggle, there’s a quick theatrical pause before a coda of “If I Had A Coin,” comeback single “Off With Their Heads” and the bands most well known song, the title track to 2008’s Save The World, Get The Girl which has the whole crowd singing and dancing along, ending the show on an uplifting and funky note.
There’s also a photo gallery and some more coverage of The King Blues tour with Louise Distras available from their Nottingham Show the previous night here on Rock Sins.