The Marcus King Band Take The Blues Across the Pond in Manchester, UK (SHOW REVIEW)

The Marcus King Band play to a sold out Night and Day Cafe in Manchester on October 27 as part of the the European/UK Carolina Confessions Tour. Doors open at 8.00pm and the venue is filling fast. Earlier I had got to hang and take shots during the soundcheck and could see that these guys are serious about their music but relaxed enough to have fun too.

Punching well above his years, Marcus King is already a star with blues music lovers due to his guitar licks and tone. His debut album, Soul Insight, released 2015, had all and sundry getting excited due to his age, 19 years old, and the quality of songs on that release. Strong connections with Warren Haynes (produced his band’s second self-titled album) and Derek Trucks from the Tedeschi Trucks Band, who King opened for on TTB Wheels of Soul Tour in 2018, gave the band much needed exposure.

The band’s new album Carolina Confessions, a nod to his roots as King was raised in Greenville, South Carolina, has all the ingredients of an American classic. From slow burners to blues rockers with splashes of jazz and a whole lot of soul, tonight we get a hot two hour show. The Marcus King rhythm and blues gospel revue has arrived. I immediately notice the tone he gets on the guitar, it sounds like he’s weaved horns, organ and voices as he takes a solo. King plays songs from his back catalogue – a great version of “Jealous Man”, some choice covers including a fantastic version of “Dear Prudence” by the Beatles and new songs “Homesick” and “How Long”. There are tracks on the new album that I could hear Al Green singing and King has a great soul voice. In fact, this band is more of a soul rock gumbo than a blues band to me. His songs really let his musicians shine too. King has a band that includes Justin Johnson trumpet and trombone, Dean Mitchell saxophone, Deshawn ‘D-Vibes’ Alexander keyboards and organ, Jack Ryan drums and Stephen Campbell bass. And those horns and organ really help this band swing. For the blues aficionado Marcus King has been playing a ‘62 Gibson ES-345.

It was such a pleasure to see this great band in such an intimate setting and I don’t think we’ll see that again. I’m keeping my fingers crossed they return to the UK next year.

All photos by Lee Gabi.

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