King Krule // Uni Refectory, Leeds // 23.11.17
Archy Marshall’s fans are enthused. I’m in a completely packed out Leeds Uni Refectory for the 23 year old ‘bluewave’ pioneer behind King Krule’s first tour in years, supporting his new record The Ooz. It’s the first new material under the King Krule moniker he’s released since 2013, so the overwhelming fan response is to be expected to a degree, but this is something else. Kids are yelling Marshall’s name incessantly, and the atmosphere is palpably tense and sweaty.
Before things got this intense, though, we were warmed up by a fantastic performance from London-based hop-hop artist Obongjayar, performing with a simple backing band. His music shared a certain rawness with Marshall’s, yet taking the jazz and soul aspects of his stuff further to the forefront. Woozingly intense ‘Spaceman’ was a peak within the set, unsettling the crowd and jogging the trappings of the Thursday that had just followed out of their minds.
Eventually, Marshall and his band take the stage, ripping effortlessly into the set. Although Marshall’s voice can seem distant and otherworldly on record, it translates into a brilliant howl/growl beautifully here, best expressed in recent single ‘Dum Surfer’. A fully fleshed live band brings out all the thumping energy of the record in person here, in particular through a series of roaring saxophone performances. ‘Half Man Half Shark’, another new song later in the set, shares this unfettered expression. The band chant the song title repeatedly and primally before leading into it, pulsing and thriving through the track’s intense punk-tinged delivery. The range of songs performed show Marshall’s true skill in songwriting – in joining punk, blues, hip-hop, soul and electronica together into one tight-knit package that can flit between genres without overextending itself. Fan favourite ‘Baby Blue’ highlights the other end of this, a slow-moving jazz ballad that slowly adds a fully fleshed band behind it in one of the best moments of the set. The high point isn’t left hanging, though – immediately after the band break into 6 Feet Beneath The Moon opener ‘Easy Easy’, which explodes outwards with a jubilant full band backing that the recorded track simply doesn’t express.
Through a series of other brilliant performances (‘Out Getting Ribs’, ‘A Lizard State’ and ‘Emergency Blimp’ in particular), Marshall and his band show their technical clout – it’s an experience that somehow manages to perfectly express the recorded material whilst still improving on it, which is really all we can hope for in a fantastic concert. Overly zealous fans aside, King Krule is a fantastic live show.