As a prefix to this, bear in mind that I am a huge fan of TKAK, so if this seems ever so slightly biased, well, it is.
The Spiritual Dark Age tour started the day before To Kill A King’s new album, The Spiritual Dark Age released, due to “bad planning”. I caught Ralph PELLEYMOUNTER and co. as they wind down in the final week of their headline tour at the Thekla in Bristol.
Support from Josh Savage and FOURS set up the main event of the evening nicely, with Josh and FOURS both giving different aspects of the music that we expect from TKAK. Opening with an old one, in the form of ‘Bloody Shirt’, the band instantly had the whole room in the palm of their hand, with everyone in the room singing along to every word.
Back-lit by a fallen king, Ralph announced that the second song of the set was to be from the new album and to his joy, the crowd erupted in cheers, after a difficult start to the tour, with Ralph is saying during the gig that at the start “people were booing and throwing torches” at the thought of new songs, ‘Compassion is a German Word’ certainly went down a treat with the fans in Bristol.
Some older songs followed and the balloons started flying around the Thekla before the song on the b-side of the only single from the album, ‘The Unspeakable Crimes of Peter Popoff’ and boy, did the patrons of the Thekla pop off. Beforehand, not being one to miss the opportunity for some comedic genius, Ralph rallied with a heckler in the crowd who called for a new song, Ralph’s reply? “I don’t know whether you said new song or you suck, and that is something I will consider later tonight.”
That wasn’t the end of Ralph’s antics for the evening, before playing what is most likely TKAK’s heaviest tune in ‘I Used To Work Here, Perhaps You Did Too?’ he started telling an anecdote about playing the song in Glasgow for a promotion that “thought we were still a little folk band” but before he could finish his story Ben interrupted him to remind him that it wasn’t the next song, so in true TKAK fashion, the five-piece winged it and changed around the set-list there and then. Show must go on, etc, etc.
As the show reached it’s climax, the band offered an extra song to Bristol in exchange for the encore. The only thing they asked for in return was an extra big “whoop” after ‘The Good Old Days’ which people in attendance (including myself) were more than happy to oblige to after an excellent showing from To Kill A King.
A choice between ‘Family’ and ‘Wolves’ followed with the fans resoundingly opting for ‘Wolves’ to be played as part of the non-encore, encore. Followed by ‘Choices’ which genuinely nearly got the tears flowing from my company on the evening. Just going to show the impact and the passion that goes into making a To Kill A King song and the amount of love and care that goes into carving these lyrics.
Rounding the gig out with Ralph’s “new favourite song” ‘And Yet…’ he closed the show in the crowd pulling people into the microphone to shout “bullsh*t” during the song and it was just, beautiful.
There’s still a few tickets left for their final show of the tour in London this weekend if you’re interested, or you could just give their stellar third album a listen here.