Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Gig Review: New Town Kings Album Launch at Colchester Arts Centre 19/5/18

Hot on the heels of last week's Popes Of Chillitown album launch show, Emma and I found ourselves at another. On Saturday the 19th of May we made the journey back to my hometown of Colchester to go and have a dance at the album launch for Colchester's greatest EVER band, the New Town Kings, for the release of their long awaited third full length, Reach Out. Of course the only place the Kings could have their album launch show was at the home venue, Colchester Arts Centre. And as an added bonus, their good buddies and one of our favourite bands in the world, Faintest Idea were support for the evening. The sun was shining and we were ready for a fun night of ska and reggae.

Faintest Idea were the only band announced as support. Normally I like to see at least two support bands but Norfolk's finest band put on a show worthy of two bands. This was their first time playing Colchester so their tradition of having the brass section begin the set in the crowd for opening track Back To The Asylum took a fair few people by surprise. I've seen this a lot of times now and every time it puts a big smile on my face. I have to admit I was wondering how the Colchester crowd would react to Faintest Idea. The New Town Kings generally attract more of an old school reggae and ska crowd these days rather than the punk rockers so it might not be the type of crowd that Faintest Idea are usually used to. Of course they quickly got the crowd on side with a high energy set and they got many of us dancing and skanking away, as well as shouting along to songs such as Youth, Mutual Aid and Bull In A China Shop. We were also treated to a couple of new songs which will hopefully be recorded soon. One was named Stomp Them Down and unfortunately I didn't get the name of the other but they both sounded superb and has me impatiently awaiting some more new material. Faintest Idea were fantastic, they always are. After the set we popped to the bar and overheard a gentleman talking about their set and saying how good they were. It was "really punky." That's at least one new fan gained for the band but I suspect there were many more.

After a speedy changeover it was time for the mighty New Town Kings. I don't know if it's because I don't live in Colchester anymore but over the last year it has felt as if the eight piece have been quite quiet. Now we know why – they've been working hard on a brand new album and it's excellent! We were treated to eleven of the thirteen songs from Reach Out and they already seem like old favourites. That's a big testament to how talented the Kings are as songwriters and performers. Their setlist started with The Hawk and Francine. Both are songs the band have been playing for a while and it's great to see them finally get recorded. Then I was taken a little by surprise as they went on to play many classic songs such as Hold On, Stop, Dynamite and News Stand before moving on to the new, new material. They played the album's title track Reach Out, Borderline, Why You Always Take, British Summer, Deep Water, Music, Long Long Road and Coconut Tree and I loved every single one of them. I've often found that album launch shows can feel a bit awkward as people don't know how to react to things they haven't heard. That certainly wasn't the case at the Arts Centre as people treated the new songs like they'd known them for years. With all these new songs as well as the oldies this was a very long set but it absolutely flew by. We danced from the beginning of The Hawk right the way through to traditional set closer Fire In The Hole and then through to the encore of La La World, Change and Deptford Skank where Faintest Idea drummer Jack Brew joined the band on stage to play a bit of trombone – what a surprise that was!

Earlier in this review I stated that the New Town Kings are the best band to come out of Colchester EVER! I don't think that that is an exaggeration. The New Town Kings are eight incredibly talented people who write and perform this amazing music that gets people singing, dancing and most importantly smiling. We need more bands like the Kings in the world!

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

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