Monday 23 July 2018

Gig Review: For all King Krule's wonkiness he can be a conventional rocker when the mood takes

King Krule, Academy, Dublin, four stars

King Krule
King Krule
Ed Power

Ed Power

Amid the swampy throb of Archy Marshall’s music swirl the ghosts of London’s post-punk past. The tortured geezer pop he records as King Krule (named after a character from the Donkey Kong video game) exists in the same laddish continuum as Madness and Jamie T – even if the Millennial self-absorption is entirely his own.

Though eclectic and jittery, the formula has propelled the 23-year-old Peckham native to the cusp of stardom. This year’s The Ooz – the perfect title for an album treacherous underfoot and suffused in 4am gloom – was heralded as one of 2017's finest, its foggy cadences channelling the frustrations of a generation who have come of age feeling they have no future.

Marshall is a graduate of the Brit School, the star-factory that produced Adele and Amy Winehouse. He inhabits a different galaxy to those artists while sharing their populist appeal. A first ever Irish show was a straight sell-out, fans singing along even when Marshall’s lyrics , as they often do, fragment into stream-of-conscience meanderings.

Yet, for all the wonkiness  he can be a conventional  rocker when the mood takes – as demonstrated by the rumbling  A Lizard State and the almost industrial Dum Surfer.

There were fascinating digressions too, as Marshall and his five piece band pummelled through a 75 minute set. Lonely Blue resembling a death metal overhauling of Madness’s House of Fun; Neptune Estate showcasing Marshall’s facility for angst-slathered rapping and jazzy juxtapositions. The audience, composed overwhelmingly of excited 20-nothings, lapped it up.

With ginger hair and milk-bottle complexion, in the dark King Krule could pass for Ed Sheeran’s underfed younger sibling. He’s unlikely to be headlining Croke Park in the immediate future. But, at current trajectory, he will surely soon sit at the top tier of guitar-bashing red-heads.

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