Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Gig Review: King Prawn at The Garage 9/12/16

One night after Against Me!'s amazing gig at the Electric Ballroom, Emma and I made our way into London again for another gig - this time for the legendary UK ska punk band King Prawn. The show was being promoted under the London International Ska Festival at The Garage in Highbury, this was a show that was guaranteed to be a good time.

I always get a bit grumpy about London gigs on a Friday night. They are usually on earlier than normal due to venues hosting club nights after the gigs. This makes it quite awkward for anyone coming from somewhere other than London to see the whole gig. I imagine it's quite hard for people who live in London to get to the venue for 6pm doors as well. Not cool. Emma and I eventually arrived at the Garage and the gig was already in full swing with Shocks Of Mighty most of the way through their set. From the couple of songs we heard, they seemed like a decent old school sounding punk rock band who had plenty of support from the already sizable crowd that had gathered in the Garage.

Up next were long running rocksteady/soul/dub band Pama International. Returning after a seven year hiatus, with a new line-up, Pama International looked completely at ease on the stage. I really enjoyed the laid back and happy vibe that was coming from the stage. Although we weren't that familiar with the music of the band, you couldn't help but want to have a little dance and bounce along. It was just a joyous occasion. The only downside to the set was that sometimes it was quite difficult to hear the quieter songs of Pama International's set due to lots of people towards the back of the room talking. I'll never understand why people feel the need to talk through a performer's set - not only is it annoying for the people around you who are trying to listen to the band, I also think it's kind of rude and disrespectful towards the band who are performing. Pama International did play a great set nevertheless and got me suitably warmed up for what was next!

King Prawn were one of the biggest players in a boom in the UK ska punk scene during the early part of the millennium. Influencing new school bands such as Sonic Boom Six and Random Hand, King Prawn were a pretty important band and it's always a pleasure to see them on the few occasions they get together for shows. This was their first London show in eighteen months and their fans were out in force. On a personal note it was nice not to feel like one of the oldest people at a show. Starting out with Bitter Taste, from Got The Thirst, the Garage crowd immediately started a skank pit. There was a big feeling of nostalgia amongst the crowd, who I imagine like me first got into UK ska punk due to King Prawn. As fun as the nostalgia element of the night was, it was also brilliant to discover that King Prawn had been working on some brand new material whilst they've been away. So new in fact that lead singer Al Rumjen had to use his phone to help him remember the lyrics! This has gotten me oh so excited for a new album coming out - hopefully in the near future. King Prawn proved just why they were so loved back in the day, performing classics such as Caught Inna Rut, Racist Copper, Bring Down The House, Survive and Someone To Hate, before finishing with The Dominant View.

There are so many wonderful new bands that appear in the ska punk scene but there is always something quite special about seeing your favourite gateway bands. It shouldn't be a worry that they won't match up to how you felt about them from when you first heard them. Whenever I've seen one of my gateway bands they've always matched and exceeded my expectations. That says so much for the quality for the songs and the bands. What a fantastic night.

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