To Kill A King

support The Liberty Balance
author HES date 25/01/14 venue Beta, Copenhagen, DEN

Arriving at Beta it's relatively surprising to see how many guests have found their way to the Amager venue to watch a band that hasn't seemed more hyped in Denmark than many others that have trouble drawing crowds. The venue is buzzing nicely however, imminently before the music starts, so either an icy Saturday is exactly what's needed to pull Copenhageners (and at least a few Swedes) out to a venue (not so likely) or tonight's headliner's merits have preceded them. Before they get to prove whether this is the case however, we are treated to a warm up act of the local variety:

The Liberty Balance

The Liberty Balance is one of those bands in Danish rock that will probably soon strike a chord with the Danish folk-crowd. The band initially started out as a duo but has later evolved into a more elaborate band constellation with a violin on the side. And the newcomers in the band are not wet behind their ears either, including Casper Henning Hansen (from Choir of Young Believers) on drums. The most striking part of the ensemble though, is lead singer Mike H's insanely deep, smooth voice. His style on stage is that of a priest speaking to the congregation in low, jazzy verses as he gestures to the music with both hands towards the crowd and later the ceiling. Despite of excellent mixing, the band doesn't really seem to get enough out of the violin, which could have served better as the only contrast to the gloomy soundscape. Hansen on drums mainly plays the set primarily with brushes rather than sticks and even though the music is mainly folk, it gives it a nice jazz-like dimension. The set in general is thwarted a bit by the band starting out with two very slow songs like the bass-driven "No Stress" - whereas the latter part of the set picks up with slightly more upbeat songs like the band's recent video-single "In America". I'd say that once the band finds their right choreography for the stage, they'll be a band to watch on the Danish folk scene.

7

To Kill A King

I "discovered" To Kill A King, when I was set to review Bastille in Vega this fall. Doing my pre-show research I started liking this band better than the main act. When I finally got to Vega however, I was met by one of the most horrible crowds I've met in a while - people were talking all through To Kill A King's set and even though the band managed to pick up some of the crowd during the end of the show, it was not hard to start fantasizing about seeing the band on their own terms. Luckily the band announced Copenhagen as the first stop on their new headlining European tour. The smaller venue Beta was almost sold out for the night and as the band hits the stage, the room is completely packed. It seems I wasn't the only one to notice To Kill A King on their last visit to Denmark.

The band starts out with a soft, unplugged version of "Bloody Shirt" and the band easily fills the room with their wonderful warm music. Backing vocals make the chorus more lively which essentially makes the song feel like more than just an unplugged song. Luckily the worst nerves seem to have settled in frontman Ralph Pelleymounter because he is not showing any shaking in spite of this being their first headline gig outside their comfortable UK. His voice is mature with a little bit of glottal hoarseness - it is mostly low, but ranges up the bars with ease as well. The scarily beautiful "Howling", of which the entire chorus is a wolf-like falsetto on top of nothing but silence from all instruments, makes the crowd so quiet that you could drop a needle and hear it land on the floor. Pelleymounter does not only hit his mark but adds an extra jazzy phrasing to the whole thing. In general he exemplifies great vocal flexibility through-out the show, his voice often being the focal point and duly so.

One of the great strengths of To Kill A King's catalogue of songs is that they have a variation of slow ballads to faster, guitar-driven songs. In the latter category, the band plays the "spider"-riff based "Rays", "Cold Skin" and "Wolves". In those songs, the band probably needs to work a bit with their eagerness as it sometimes feels as if the whole excitement of the faster songs fasten the pace of them just a bit too much in the choruses. In regards to the more slow songs like "Fictional State", although they're not as catchy - this is where this band essentially wins me over. Pelleymounter is a very convincing narrator and these more lyrically driven songs including "Cannibals With Cutlery" are instant pearls on my string at least. The band choses to save their undoubtedly best song "Choices" for last and manages once again - like at the Bastille show to engage the crowd in the "Uh uh"-refrain that binds the main song and the extended bridge together. To our delight the band even comes back for an encore in the form of their very first song "Bones", again driven mainly by Pelleymounter's narration. To Kill a King show us tonight, that they do live up to the praise that the undersigned and other people in the business have given them. Solid performance.

8

Setlist:

  • Cold Skin (Accoustic)
  • Wolves
  • Rays
  • Howling
  • Cannibals With Cutlery
  • Funeral
  • Choices
  • Fictional State

Encore

  • Bones

All photos courtesy of Kenny Swan

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