Marcus King brings his fusion of rock, soul, and blues to a sold-out Manchester O2 Ritz, the fans have arrived early for what will be a show of epic proportions.
The support act for the evening is, Ida Mae Hailing from Norfolk, U.K., Ida Mae are an acoustic alt-folk duo made up of husband-and-wife Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean. Delivering romantic and atmospheric songs with resonant guitar and passionate vocals, the pair owe their influences on the sound of Americana and Deep South blues-rock. Their work can be heard on their 2019 debut LP, ‘Chasing Lights’ The pair are developing a loyal, and blossoming fanbase since releasing their debut album in 2019. They paved the way for the night with an engaging grace, the crowd took to the duo, who have delivered a powerful folk-laden set. “Raining for you”, is a fabulous opener as is the Barbara Keith, cover, “Detroit or Buffalo”, which gave way to “Fading Light”, the set closed with “Long gone and Heartworn”.
1/ Raining for You
3/ Detroit or Buffalo
(Barbara Keith cover)
4/ Fading Light
5/ Click Click Domino
6/ Long Gone
GRAMMY® Award-nominated artist, performer, and songwriter Marcus King was downright destined to play music. By eight years old, the fourth-generation Greenville, SC native performed alongside pops, grandpa, and his uncles for the first time.
Logging thousands of miles on the road as “The Marcus King Band,” he established himself with unparalleled performance prowess and a dynamic live show. In 2020, he linked up with Dan Auerbach [The Black Keys] and cut his solo debut “El Dorado”, garnering a GRAMMY® Award nomination in the category of “Best Americana Album.”
Beyond praise from NPR, American Songwriter, and more, Rolling Stone christened it “excellent,” and Associated Press went as far as to claim, “El Dorado”, already stands out as a definite high point of 2020.” In between packing venues on his own, he performed alongside Chris Stapleton, Greta Van Fleet, and Nathanial Rateliff in addition to gracing the bills of Stagecoach and more with one seismic show after the next.
Along the way, he caught the attention of Rick Rubin and signed with American Recordings. Plugged into his old man’s dusty amp with a ’59 Les Paul in hand, Marcus set out to make a rock ‘n’ roll record in 2022. He didn’t disguise his ambitions at all. He didn’t hold back. He didn’t think about anything but writing from the gut, shooting from the hip, and playing straight from the heart. Joined by Auerbach, he made the kind of rock ‘n’ roll record that makes arenas and asses shake, and it’s called Young Blood [American Recordings/Republic Records].
As the band took to the stage and literally filled it, an eight-man ensemble settled in for what would be a 22-song experience, we are treated to Blues, Rock, gospel, and soul all cleverly intertwined perfectly, a combination of Kings, own work and a who’s who of covers that quiet, frankly, elevates the evening to another level.
The main act is a huge eight-man set-up. Drummer Jack Ryan, bassist Stephen Campbell, trumpet/trombone player Justin Johnson, saxophonist Chris Spies and Hammond player Dane Farnsworth join Drew Smithers on second guitar along with a third brass/percussionist. It’s impressive, to say the least, and plays out in the fullest way only a band this size could.
As we open with the dirty riffs of “It’s too late”, the sound is immense, “Virginia”, keeps the blues rolling to an electric crowd. As the horn section blast out, a cover of “Trouble man”, by Marvin Gaye, does showcase what the band have to offer, King’s voice is on form.
A wonderful cover of “Guess who”, Jesse Belvin gave, Drew Smithers the artistic licence to deliver some excellent hi-riff solos, all to the backdrop of melancholic soul-full blues. “Wildflowers and wine” saw the venue light up, a beautiful moment for a beautiful song, which instantly brought us straight into another cover “When a man loves a woman”, (Percy Sledge) for all the ladies in the audience.
The levels of musicianship on show belies how fantastic Marcus King is, the band are totally in tune and unison, as we fly through the set, “Lie, Lie, lie”, “Rice puddin”, and “comin’ home”, close out the set, greatly appreciated by a thoroughly entertained crowd.
Well obviously, there had to be an encore, “Goodbye Carolina”, breaks for “The well”, and finally the showstopper cover of Black Sabbaths, “War Pig’s”, pure unadulterated rock at its best. Marcus King has it all, musically a master, vocally a joy to be seen and heard, his own material stands up against all of tonight’s material. For me, this is the highlight of my year so far. The bar is firmly set.
1/ It’s too late
4/ Trouble man
6/ Guess who
7/ Rescue me
8/ Can’t you hear me knockin
9/ Good and gone
11/ Danny boy
13/ Wildflowers and wine
14/ When a man loves a woman
15/ Lie, Lie, Lie
16/ Rice puddin
17/ Trouble no more
18/ Comin no more
19/ Goodbye Carolina
20/ The well
21/ War Pigs
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