King Krule @ Barrowlands, Glasgow, 6 Oct
Archy Marshall brings a souped-up version of King Krule to the Barrowlands, with big energy, a pumped-up crowd, and on-stage camaraderie for days
When Archy Marshall first broke through as Zoo Kid, he arrived with a fully-formed sound. His languid, angsty and otherworldly solo guitar songs made him a cult star. Critics watching this young kid with a deep voice perform so assuredly were quick to call him wise beyond his years. But the past decade has shown how much growth he had left in him.
With each new release, King Krule has deepened his art with weird and explorative touches. He has played with jazz, dub and hip-hop while filling out a sketchbook of scrappy songs. Still, you’d be forgiven for expecting a dour, vibey soup of a live show if you’re only a cursory fan. Friday’s set at Barrowlands is his first headline show in Scotland in five years. Tonight, he’s the confident and energetic frontman of a killer band. Early highlights Alone, Omen 3 and Dum Surfer are alive with energy and interplay. The camaraderie and closeness of the band lifts typically stoned and standoffish jams into the stratosphere.
Drummer George Bass deserves a particular mention for his frenetic performance, which keeps the grooves punchy and off-kilter. Space Heavy cut Hamburgerphobia gives him space to shine, as Marshall holds court through a smog of effects and plate echo. Meanwhile, saxophonist and longtime collaborator Ignacio Salvadores delivers snarling solos throughout, and acts as a hypeman when his instrument isn’t needed, yelping into the mic while stumbling around the stage like an unhinged, artsy Bez. It works.
The setlist is long and winding, taking us through snapshots of every King Krule record. Marshall’s enduring appeal is clear in the excitement shown to all eras by this young audience. The crowd react to all offerings, even the loosest tracks like The Ooz’s (A Slide In) New Drugs, which sounds downright sinister when blown up to Barras size. He even finds time for a cheery cover of Dean Martin’s My Rifle, My Pony and Me. The slacker cowboy anthem suits his streetwise vagabond persona.
"This is the best venue on the planet", Marshall drawls towards the back end of his set, before correcting himself – "In the universsse". The ‘sss’ trails off in a sea of reverb. Hearing Baby Blue, Easy Easy and Rock Bottom in a space like this, you’re inclined to agree. Fans shout out requests throughout the gig. There isn’t time for everything. Heavy hitters like Seaforth and Biscuit Town don’t make the cut. Overall, it’s a balanced offering. There’s space for fan favourites, oddball asides and nocturnal deep cuts. And despite working through over twenty songs, there’s time for an encore – Out Getting Ribs, the song that first got him attention. It still mesmerises, over a hundred performances later.