Sunday, 12 February 2017

Gig Review: New Town Kings at MK11, Milton Keynes 10/2/17

When you think of a cold, snowy night in Milton Keynes the first thing you think of probably isn't a ska and reggae night. Well that's what Emma and I decided to do on Friday. It was a bit of a special night for me as it was a chance to see my favourite band from my hometown, Colchester (some home away from home for me) as well as one of Emma's favourite discoveries, Easydread.

This was my first time going to tonight's venue, MK11, so I wasn't completely sure what to expect. Especially as it didn't seem to be in a traditional setting for live music - a sports and social club on an industrial estate. As we entered the venue I could tell instantly that this was going to be a pretty great place to watch live music. It's well set up with a nice sized dance floor in front of a reasonably high stage with lots of place to stand and still have a decent view of the stage if you don't fancy a dance.

Unfortunately Emma and I were slightly late to the gig so we only caught the end of the opening act, Mid Reflection, which I believe was a cover of the classic song Jump Around. Emma was quite excited to see Bedfordshire ska/reggae act Easydread after seeing them support [Spunge] last year, as well as seeing them perform at the Bedford Festival. I immediately understood her excitement. Tonight performing as a six piece, Easydread effortlessly got a good portion of the crowd grooving with their upbeat and energetic performance. Despite not knowing any of their music I couldn't help but have a dance. When the set times were announced for the show I thought that Easydread having a 45 minute set might be a bit much but boy golly I'm glad that they did. The band clearly love performing together on stage - and at times in the crowd, where we were joined by the band's guitarist, bass player and trumpeter for the last song, Scrotes. A wonderful song about the people of Luton.

If it was possible for me to be more excited to see New Town Kings, Easydread made it happen. Suitably warmed up, it was time to really have a dance to Colchester's finest. Things seem to have been a little quiet in the Kings camp over the winter. Judging from the sheer amount of new material played I can only guess that they've been hard at work finishing up their long awaited third album. It seems such a long time coming and, judging from the new songs, it's going to be more than worth the wait. The new songs had me dancing just as much as old classics such as Dynamite, La La Land and Fire In The Hole. Frontman Dabs Bonner is always the star of the show - he's got a natural charisma and sense of showmanship, it's difficult not to watch him. Even whilst skanking furiously to set closer Fire In The Hole, I watched him intently wondering what he would do next. It's hard to remember a time when he wasn't the band's frontman. They were great before him but with Dabs leading the way the Kings have really upped their game immensely. By the end of the night the New Town Kings had everyone in MK11 singing, dancing and smiling away - bringing a fun summer vibe to the freezing cold night. This is a powerful thing live music can do, make you forget about all the rubbish that is going on outside of the venue and just allowing you to have the best time possible.

Easydread were excellent, the New Town Kings were even better. A great night had by all. Now hurry up and get that new album out New Town Kings!

This review was written by Colin.