Review by Tara Williams
Photographs by Robbie Atkin Robertson
I weave through the crowd, trying not to spill my beer all over myself or anyone else. This one is precious, once I secure my position in this wall-wall packed crowd there is no turning back. I await eagerly with the rest of my people to see the man we’ve all been waiting for.
“Another disappointed soul, well I try, try to keep it in control.” Archie Marshall AKA King Krule demands the audience’s attention as his army-commander voice booms through the belly of The Triffid. The opening track, Has it Hit from his 2013 album, 6 Feet Beneath the Moon oozes (excuse the pun) frustration and heart-ache, juxtaposed by Marshall’s enduringly authoritative vocal performance and bossanova/beach boys-esque guitar effects.
Pink and blue lights dance around the silhouette of his startling red hair like bright ideas. His protuberant pale cheek bones catching some rare glimpses of white light are the most you can make of his otherwise dimly lit portrait.
The words “This is the final line I wrote, and applying that final coat, that would bring down the ceiling” direct my attention to my surroundings. I look up at the ceiling of the re-purposed aircraft hanger, it’s exposed beams bathed in a cool blue light makes me feel like we’re inside the belly of a giant whale looking up at it’s skeleton. Now there’s a moment of hush, the air filled with anticipation between songs.
“Dumb surfer!” The statement is projected with an air of anger, urgency, and an intense energy that is only conceivable through being in the room. An energy that gets lost in translation on the recording of ‘Dum Surfer’ from his latest album The Ooz. Marshall’s vocals punch you in the face and then stroke you gently on the cheek, leaving you wondering whether what you’re hearing is the product of beautiful musical genius or a deep seeded angst and rage. The answer is both. Paired with an unwavering vocal performance, Marshall brings to the stage an undeniable punk energy that engrosses you in his poetic/beatnik/jazz/hip-hop/bossanova/post-punk world.
It’s really no wonder Marshall brings so many elements to his music, growing up in a household swimming with musical and artistic diversity, and coming from a man who wrote his first song about a missing school teacher at the tender age of 8. Marshall’s keen philosophical and somewhat pessimistic observation of the world around him, married with his hunched posture and throaty, gruff, churning, poetic vocals creates an aura of charm and mystery, something that he has continued to carry with him throughout his musical journey and to his newest record The Ooz, and something that is only accentuated by seeing him in the flesh. For a tour that is presumably to promote King Krule’s latest album, the set list was a perfectly balanced blend of old and new. It’s like he knew exactly what his audience wanted, throwing in lifelines such as Lizard State, Cadet Limbo and Rock Bottom.
"Baby Blue” is all Marshall had to utter, “My sandpaper sigh, engraves a line, into the rust of your tongue …” and the crowd is transfixed, swaying uniformly, staring at the outline of the stone cold lyrical killer on the stage before them. Everything is blue. The tassels of his denim jacket flicker through the dense blue light with his every gesture. Anyone who is wearing white has now turned that vibrant shade of fluorescent bowling alley purple. The contrast of light is so intense the shoulders of the crowd form their own lines like a bunch of mini see-saws bobbing back and forth to Krule’s crooning. Now this is an atmosphere. Suddenly, the harrowing, meaty sound of the saxophone breaks out, the saxophonist jumping up and down in the middle of the stage with a dance energy comparable to Ian Curtis.
Krule teases the audience by ending with the cult classic Easy Easy of which the echoing crowd did the majority of the work. Of course however, hungry fans will be hungry fans, as so followed was a roaring “ENCORE” approximately 50 times. Krule milked it for so long I almost thought it wasn’t going to happen, until finally the 23 year old sauntered back to centre stage to finish once and for all with the heartbroken Portrait in Black and Blue. “And I’m dark and in awe of you and all you had to say is, it never hit me the same boy.” I left The Triffid that night with that bitter sweet feeling you get when you’re not sure how long it will be until you will be so moved in such a way again, but such is life. Until next time Archie Marshall.