TVD Live Shots:
King’s X at the Islington Assembly Hall, 6/14

The first and last time I saw King’s X live was back in 1994 at Mississippi Nights in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. I was 19 years old and thought I knew what amazing musicianship looked like, but I was wrong. Doug Pinnick and company were touring in support of their landmark album Dogman, and it was one of the most incredible musical spectacles I’ve ever seen. These guys make a hell of a lot of noise for a three-piece, but furthermore, their musicianship is unmatched.

Pinnick is known for playing a 12 string bass live. If you’ve never heard one of these beasts live, it pummels your chest and rattles your soul, laying the groundwork for one of the most precise (and animated) drummers on the planet, Jerry Gaskill. The rest comes to life by Ty Tabor’s vivid calm-to-roar style guitar playing. It’s the type of music that the metal heads love as well as the prog folks—and even the Beatle-maniacs.

So why was it the band never broke through to the mainstream? I haven’t a clue, and neither do the majority of critics and fans alike. Eddie Trunk takes a stab at solving this mystery on his radio show which you can listen to here. The pieces were all lined up many times over, but while lightning certainly did strike on stage, it never equally struck the charts.

But none of that mattered last week in London when King’s X made their triumphant return to their self-proclaimed favorite place to play. This time it was at the Islington Assembly Hall during a “heatwave” in the UK. The place was jam-packed and hotter than hell. Coming out guns a-blazing, the power trio opened with the juggernaut “Groove Machine” from 1998’s under-celebrated Tapehead record. Up next was “The World Around Me” from the 1992 self-titled, dark masterpiece followed by “Pillow” from Dogman.

Then it was time to slow it down for a bit for another gem from Dogman, the lesser known “Flies and Blue Skies.” Then into “Cigarette” which in my opinion is the band at it’s finest. The storytelling through brilliant lyrics, backed by the trio’s harmonies syncing together perfectly and powerfully brings an emotional connection to the audience that never gets old.

The rest of the set was a cornucopia of greatness pulled from a terribly under-celebrated catalog. The only thing that was missing from my account was “It’s Love,” but it seems that it was replaced by “Cigarette,” so I’ll take that any day of the week.

Bottom line: These guys sounded spectacular, just as good if not a bit tighter than when I saw them more than 20 years ago. I even convinced my wife who’s never heard of King’s X to come to the show with me and she was equally blown away.

Maybe the magic bullet has always been the live show and the record labels over the years never quite figured out how to capture the magic on a record? Either way, I think they have several good years of touring in them to continue to spread the love. Oh, and how in the f*ck is Doug Pinnick 66 years old? He looks so good for his age he could probably give fitness tips to Sting. Well done sir.

Check out hi-res shots from the show in the gallery here.

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  • BoyHowdy

    The USA-based fans of King’s X (and that includes me) should be ashamed at how much the European fans blew us out of the water when it comes to attending and cheering on Dug, Ty, and Jerry at their shows. I was amazed (in a very wonderful way) at how many fans were in attendance for their recent shows in Europe, and the videos showed me how loud those fans were.

    I am so happy for Dug, Ty, and Jerry, and they must have been thinking that they’d died and gone to Heaven because of the crowds they played in front of during their European tour. I hope that we fans here in the USA can pack the venues here to the gills whenever King’s X comes to our areas!!!

  • Edith McCluster

    Nice images. The UK show I saw was great too, outside of London. But I have to say: Dogman was a great album but not exactly ‘landmark’. You seem to overlook material such as Gretchen and Faith Hope Love… these and others were all on big labels! Massive labels, much more so than many bands could ever dream about, and of a stature that labels now – real or online – could never match. Yet the myth that they never broke ‘big’ prevails. Maybe they didn’t WANT to be Ozzy, Crue or whatever. Either way, packed shows, never ending touring… what do you actually expect??!! : D

    • Jason Miller

      Thanks for the comment. In my opinion Dogman was the better record. Megaforce is an indie label that is why the upgraded to Atlantic. Maybe I should have clarified that statement as, why were they not bigger? Either way, there’s a great segment here where Eddie Trunk discusses that’s worth a listen:

      • Edith McCluster

        Your mention of Dogman just came across as completely subjective.

        Megaforce was and is a hugely credible label. Soundgarden on SST. metallica, Janes Addiction on smaller labels at start so it’s all relative. So who do people think that Kings X should be as big AS. Is the question. Faith No More? RHCP? I’m thinking of artists who weren’t your usual chart metal fodder. Just that no-one talks about this constructively, and seems happy to go along with a lazy media angle, which always reflects negatively on an incredible band (ie’ they didn’t make it’)… and seems in denial of what they achieved. Which was HUGE by label standards now: an industry compromised now by internet/social media.

        • Jason Miller

          Of course it’s subjective, it’s my review ; ) Also, for the record, any way you slice it, Megaforce is an independent label. Credible, of course. Major label, it is not.

          • Edith McCluster

            It’s a big label, especially by today’s standards. If you write about music, you write about it selflessly. Not about yourself bud.

          • Jason Miller

            Huh? I’m a writer, it’s my opinion. That’s what writers do. I wasn’t assigned to cover this band, I went to the show on my on time, so yes, it is about me as a fan sharing my experience. Not sure why you are arguing with me here as we are clearly both fans of the band.


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