King Krule takes over KOKO for two night of uneasy listening

King Krule walked an unsettling line between laid back and full frontal at his KOKO show on Tuesday.

4 weeks agoText by


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On stage, Archy Marshall’s guitar is a weapon. In contrast to the lavish jazzy chords it lays down on his records as King Krule, live it’s a jagged extension of the singer. It swings wildly as he staggers back and forth from the mic, conjuring haunting, reverb-soaked riffs and refrains from it with ease.

Every now and again Marshall veers off to the back left of the stage to revel in his own feedback, letting the more luscious and tender of his songs wash over himself and the crowd. His stage presence is unique, it’s like he’s torn between performing and storming off defiantly at any minute. When he’s not singing he seems to be guided around the stage by some unseen force, his movements are sudden and rapid; there are moments when I worried for his bandmates lest they were struck by an unwieldy tuning peg.

They, however, don’t seem fazed. Sharing Marshall’s simultaneously nonchalant and standoffish demeanour, they bob ominously in time to their playing, pounding out the tracks that demand it and gracefully switching into jazz band mode for the slower, more spacious cuts.

The band start slow, easing their way through ‘Has This Hit’ and ‘Ceiling’ without saying a word. Introductions out the way, they launch into ‘Dum Surfer’ and ‘Lizard State’, and the crowd starts boiling. Given Archy’s rough around the edges reputation, he and his band are impressively tight, and the addition of a baritone saxophone, courtesy of band member Ignacio, to almost every track is a revelation, adding another layer of brooding complexity to older cuts like ‘Rock Bottom.’

With the flick of his wrist or the stomp of a pedal, he sends the crowd into a frenzy at the slightest increase in pace. When the already sullen lights dim even further for ‘A Slide In (New Drugs)’ the assembled mass falls silent. After a rather slow run of tracks from new album The OOZ, Marshall brings it back to his debut Six Feet Beneath the Moon for closing number ‘Baby Blue’ and ‘Easy Easy’ ending the show on a chaotic high.

He ducks off stage, and we presume it’s all over. Encores don’t seem like his style, or at least not until he strolls back on for a howling rendition of his earliest single ‘Out Getting Ribs’ which immediately pulls any punters trying to beat the cloakroom queue back inside the venue.

Together Marshall and band resemble the Clash, arguably punk’s most musically gifted band, with Marshall playing the role of Joe Strummer, snarling and tender all at once.

Photography Anthony Yates
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