After hearing a few years back, that punk band ‘The King Blues’ had broken up, I never thought that I would be standing at the side of stage inches away from Itch himself with a camera, shooting him live in performance. Yet somehow as of a few days ago this became reality. With every moment you could feel the passion he put into his performance. To make it all the more better, he opened with an 8 minute spoken word piece called ‘What If Punk Never Happened’. I shall tell you all about this track but first I have two more artists to introduce you to.
While I was fiddling around with my camera back-stage, and getting everything together, I spoke with a young punk woman by the name of Miffy Englefield. We talked about our nerves, this for me as an amateur photographer was as much a big thing for me as it were for her yet for different reasons. I mean not only was she supporting The King Blues, she was playing her first ever gig away from home. Home being a small town in Hampshire. However, this did not hold her back one bit.
Her Instagram page describes her as “Short, loud and mostly ridiculous”. Now she may be short but her voice carries loud and clear through the venue as she strums along with melodic tunes. I was expecting a brody dale-esque vocal range but what I heard was far from expected, with throws of passion In her lyrics and the way she sung. It’s hard to explain her sound exactly, to pinpoint who she would sound like as a reference point, however I would highly recommend checking her out. Little people often have the most to say, in this case I think that certainly rings true. After seeing her play her heart out to a crowd who have never heard of her, at a King Blues concert I can really see this woman going places.
The second act, are a band that I have followed religiously for the last year and a half. Each time they play they come more into themselves. They’ve grown a hell of a lot since the first time I saw them play. Each time they have put their all into their shows, but on this night in particular there was something just a bit different to it. Not only was this a big gig for them but it was their only home show. One night in Tunbridge Wells and oh, was it an amazing night.
Now before I go on, I must say as much as the main act were a big influence for me, had this band not been playing I doubt I would have gone. So Before I say anymore, I should probably introduce you to the one and only Riskee and The Ridicule. That name alone might make you question their style of music. Throw some punk, hip hop, grime and a bit of full on screaming in there and you may have something that kinda describes them. I’ve always thought of them as a street punk-esque band with a hip hop vibe, but there is so much more to them. For a few weeks now, I’ve wanted to write a review for this band, I get writers block each time but this one gig gave me all I needed to translate what I see in them into words.
There is a lot I want to tell you all about Riskee and The Ridicule, they are going places, they have passion beyond anything I’ve ever seen in a band, they hit hard with their guitar riffs and lyrics that resonate with people for so many reasons. One of my favourite songs has to be off their first full album “Dawn Of The Dog”. With lyrics such as “I don’t believe what the papers say, cuz I know one day they might hate me” from British Public and “tiny acorns make big trees, body builders make oaps, mohammed ali’s fighting ‘son’s disease” – it’s easy to see why they are big within the working class community of Kent. Not only do they inspire through music but they go where other artists don’t, they talk about politics, they put their views out, they are anti-fascist, anti Daily Mail and have turned down record labels to remain completely independent.
Anyway back to the concert. These guys blew everyone away, I’m sure of it. Crowds at the front were rushing to take selfies with the vocalist all while cheering and shouting their lyrics back at them. Hearing your own songs shouted back at a sold out show of 250 people must be something special. From spectating, I could tell a huge chunk of those people were there for Riskee. You could also tell they had been on tour, you could tell that Scott probably had a sore throat, his vocals were tired and still he smashed it, they smashed it. He sung like his life depended on it.
At one point, I moved to the back of the stage, hidden behind a drum kit, I could see all that was going on, my main focus here was to get a few close up shots of drummer Matt. If you want to see a drummer smash the shit out of his drum kit while making some amazing drummer faces, with sweat literally covering him, then Matt is your guy. The guitarists were heavily into what they were doing, you could see the concentration on their faces. You can see they are worn out but still they keep going, they keep putting all they have into playing and still they manage to move around. Only recently did their second guitarist Jordan join, playing alongside Jimbo – and boy is he a great addition to the band, both bringing their own styles together along with the basslines coming from the otherside of the stage from a very focused looking David. I must say the setlist was amazing with a string of tunes from their new album “Blame Culture” finished off by an older track “Roots” which always goes down so well. I’m not sure there is much more I can say but Riskee, you smashed it.
And for the final act. I didn’t know what to expect from The King Blues, I had heard their line-up had changed since they got back together. I was a bit setback by that I will admit, but it wasn’t long before I was taken by their live performance. So I’ve already told you about “What If Punk Never Happened”, it is by far my favourite spoken word piece and to see 250 people throwing those lyrics back at Itch was incredible. As if by slip of his tongue lyrics such as “There’s no one around to fight Margaret Thatcher” turned to “There’s no one around to fight Theresa May”. It took a second for people to realise what he’d said, he stopped and laughed “It’s hard to tell the difference” or a quick witted quip similar to thus was thrown in before he went back and sung the correct lyrics.
If you want a song that goes over the history of punk bands then this is it, starting with “If only sham 69 had of united the kids” there was a pause, people applauded moments later came “If only The 4skins had told us ACAB, If only The Ramones had let us known we were a happy family, if only The Buzzcocks had shown us to do it ourselves”, the references to bands kept coming ending with “If we had The Blitz, The Clash, Disorder, Propagandhi, The Exploited, NOFX and anyone that’s handy.” It’s almost like he’s telling us a story of how life would have been without punk, without these bands, how government would take over more so than they have already. The last chapter with a message of empowerment, ends beautifully with a crowd throwing their fists in the air as he tells us “Throw your fists in the air, in solidarity and shout ‘Viva la punk, just one life. Anarchy.”
The band soon joins and they go on to tear into “Lets Hang The Landlord” a song that I imagine is very personal to Itch. His lyrics talk about him having been homeless, punks taking him in to move to a squat where he discovered punk rock, drinking red wine and coke, charging people money to take photos and living like a millionaire in the squat they made home.
They followed with an amazing mix of old and new songs, getting the balance just right, which can be hard to do. During “Underneath this Lamppost Light” a non traditional love song, with mentions of kebab shops and streets smelling of piss, he got a couple of the audience on stage to vape because he didn’t have smoke machines, a great touch that must have amused all.
I’d like to keep going on about each and every song they played but unfortunately I think that might bore you, our readers. So I shall wrap it up by emphasizing how amazing this show was. The line-up was spot on, their set lists, lyrics were all to the point and the musicians themselves absolutely killed it. Other than the fact I had to rush to get the train back to Margate and couldn’t stay for the end and not being allowed to even put a foot on the actual stage, I really cannot say a bad word about the whole night. I spoke to members of each band on separate occasions – On one Itch even complemented my t-shirt, his own t-shirt from his solo hip-hop career with a dead rat on it. We spoke for a moment, he hugged me and went on his way. Over everything, the general friendliness of everyone made my day as much as the music, but more to see a band from my home, Kent, touring and playing their heart out – that topped it all off!
Words and photography by Annie Harris of Pixography
Want to know more about any of these artists?
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/miffytracks/
Instagram – @MiffyEnglefield
YouTube song link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNEbtlB0X5A
Riskee and The Ridicule:
Website – http://www.riskeeandtheridicule.com/
Instagram – @Ridiculegram
Bandcamp – https://riskeeandtheridicule.bandcamp.com/
The King Blues:
Website – http://www.kingbluesofficial.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/thekingblues
Instagram – @KingBluesOfficial