King Krule @ MTelus – 28th October 2017

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“Don’t get to hear French that often outside of France.” Thus spoke the ineffable Archy Ivan Marshall, aka ‘Zoo Kid’ aka ‘King Krule,’ giving Montreal its first live taste of his lingering blues melodies and staccato lyrics – the “bluewave” sound, freshly as he describes it.

King Krule lit up of the light with a set off his 2013 release 6 Feet Under the Moon, with the crowd chanting along to that as well as songs from his album just released weeks ago The Ooz. But before getting in too deep with the hesitating and disarming style of Krule, first lets mention the minimalist intensity of his opener – Show Me The Body.

Julian Cashwan Pratt is an animal on stage. Shaking and spinning like some voodoo shaman invoking the ghost of a dead god, the punk frontman had the entire floor rumbling as the crowd pushed to and fro in a giant chaotic mosh vortex. From the start, even with the minimal 3-piece set up, and even more minimal backing bass and drums, the intensity seemed palpable as he sat meditating on his haunches before launching into an explosive tirade of rage-dripping lyrics.

With bassist Harlan Steed alternating between the electronic fuzz box, his bass, and just head-banging his mane of greasy hair like a beast, the package onstage was a contrast of a small setup with a big presence that somehow instantly filled the room. Even on songs where drummer Noah Cohen-Corbett was barely hitting anything like a stomping rhythm, the crowd was raging. Truly a unique band. NYC based and kicking ass near you sooner rather than later I would bet.

King Krule himself trotted on stage still looking like the slightly disheveled reject from middle school in the UK, once performing on David Letterman at the age of 19, now 23. Answering the crowd, “I love you too, but in the wrong way.” Marshall unloaded each song like a slowly tormented unfolding origami butterfly. Each hesitant start a slightly delicate beginning, then quickly crashing into a sea of ambiance, saxophone, baritone moans and synthetic beats.

Marshall’s bass voice itself seems to oscillate between variations of Tom Waits or Jeff Buckley. Either guttural, gruff and bitter at the world – then suddenly soft, charming and hesitant; musing about his weakness for some quirk of love. It’s a strange combination that has gathered more and more fans, as the Montreal show itself needed to be upgraded from Corona to MTelus to accommodate the glut of sales.

Krule is a gem, but in some ways the delivery of his live shows slightly undermines the microscopic timing and smooth precision of his recordings. Even though the sound is so out of control – there is an art in there and its beautifully subtle. On pieces like “Baby Blue” and “Out Getting Ribs,” there’s something positively eloquent about the timing of his one-piece performances. The catch with Krule is neither the melody, nor the voice, but the space and the delay between; he takes the basic off-beat rhythm of blues and turns it into its own art form. Translating that live is hard, and yet it would be hard to not see all the potential is such a young act not eventually working out the kinks as this London native goes down the road of a steady-touring professional performer.

Never seen a lighter out at the MTelus for a song since the early 2000s, but they materialized out in force for King Krule. As he worked his way through “Baby Blue” softly under the indigo lights, hundreds of costumed Montrealers swayed back forth in the crowd, singing along; a great show. It won’t be the last – King Krule promises that his shadow and Montreal will have their shadows cross paths again soon.

Review & photos – David Loach

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