Let me say right up front that this is a totally biased review as I am a certified King’s X fanboy. While I may not have been a fan from day one or day minus one with their previous incarnations of Sneak Preview or The Edge, I fell for them and fell HARD when I first heard ‘It’s Love.’
Since 1990 I’ve seen them live around thirty times and have traveled long distances late at night/early in the morning to see them play. I even had the pleasure of sitting in on a live interview/acoustic performance they did for Sirius Radio a few years ago. Just me, my wife, the band, the interviewer, engineer and Jerry’s girlfriend Julie. It was a little rough around the edges because it was early for rock n roll, but as any dedicated fan can tell you…that’s the nature of King’s X live.
It’s been said that it wouldn’t be a King’s X show without some technical difficulties. Fans even joked that a live album should be called just that, Technical Difficulties. Over the years there have been blown amps, dead guitars, crackling PA’s, hostile crowds, sick band members and lost voices (and those are just the shows I’VE been to) and yet each and every performance was brilliant in its own way. What you see is what you get with King’s X. No fancy stage set, no costumes, no pyro nothing but heart and soul and the music.
The other constant is the audience. Me, you, them…us together in that room and sharing the experience. Early in this live set from London we’re treated to some audience participation on the old classic ‘Summerland.’ Not just singing but belting out the words while the band sits back and smiles, with the occasional lyric prompting from dUg though most of us don’t need it. Earlier I mentioned a show when dUg lost his voice, gone…nothing but squeaks coming out. Another audience would storm out and demand their money back, but King’s X fans took it as a challenge and sang along with every song and not just the usual suspects. dUg was inspired and…well…dug deep to gut out each word and note. I literally get goosebumps just thinking about it.
Another great thing about seeing the band is the guitar work of one Mr. Ty Tabor. He may not be a household name like Mr. Van Halen and he may not appear to be the flashiest shredder out there, but if you listen carefully you’ll hear that he’s not your average guitarist. And if you ask other guitarists who THEY look up to you’ll hear Ty’s name a lot. Each solo is a small masterpiece of pacing and composition, from night to night you never know what paths he’ll follow. Sometimes he even gets lost and if you’re patient you’ll be rewarded by watching him find his way back. It’s hard to explain but there are guitarists that play a formula and there’s Ty who is improvising in the moment and seeing what the instrument will give him on any given night. You may even see him make an astonished face at something that comes out of the amps. Ty usually limits his extended solos to a few songs each night which just makes each one more special. Maybe because the London show was taped he chose to play a few more solos because it feels like there are more here than at an average gig…and they’re way above average.
Jerry Gaskill on the drums …rock solid, in the pocket groove. Not only is he the rhythmic backbone of the band he’s also a huge part of their vocal harmonies and he’s entertaining as Hell to watch. Keep an eye on his facial expressions when he plays. He can make the band hang on his every move. As if that weren’t enough he takes over lead vocals for his apologetic ode to ‘Julie.’
There are few better frontmen in the business than dUg Pinnick. He’s not up there as superstar role model speaking down to his fans. He’s one of us, he just happens to be the one on stage with the bass and the mic. When he’s on you better look out and when he’s off (it happens) just be there for him with a smile and by the end of the show he’ll be smiling right along with you.
As with any band that’s been around this long there will be some quibbling among fans about the setlist. I can’t really complain though I would have liked to have heard ‘Cigarettes’ here if just for Ty’s outro solo. When I start thinking of other songs I’d like to hear I just start listing all of them so it’s really not fair. Other fans comment that dUg’s voice isn’t what it once was….of course it isn’t, neither is mine. Sure they have to drop the tuning on some of the older songs, big deal. The emotions are the same and they still leave it all on stage.
If you ever get the chance to see the band live you owe it to yourself to go. If you see that King’s X are opening for one of your favorite bands then be sure to get there early, you won’t be disappointed. If you can’t make it to a show then this is really the next best thing. Some live sets are just mirror images of their studio counterparts. Live Love In London makes you feel like you’re there with your friends and your King’s X Family.
Faith Hope Love
Available now as a Double CD or a Deluxe Version which also includes the live DVD.