King Krule launched his new album, Man Alive! in Bristol's SWX last night, kicking off his already sold-out 2020 tour. The latest in a long lineage of material from Archy Marshall, Man Alive! blends frustrated riffs with silky smooth sax over echoing, break-beat samples. Marshall's wailings of urban dwelling splinter through, clattering against the crowd. The whole album is a polemic against stagnation.
Organised by Rough Trade, the album launch took place a stone's throw down the street from Rough Trade West, at SWX. Bristol's Nelson street swelled as fans trampled their way from the store. Inside the club, underneath neon lighting, the dance floor melted into a swamp of bodies. Hundreds had turned out to catch a glimpse.
Archy Marshall drips emotion. Every step he takes on stage is trodden with a sense of frustration. He doesn't play his guitar, so much as he vents through it. Stumbling across stage, during a guitar change between songs, Marshall flung his guitar down heavily, nearly smashing it with anger.
Marshall's performance echoed the mood of the album, a streak of angst pervaded the night. Between songs King Krule would take a few sips from a can of Red Stripe, turning away from the crowd almost broodingly.
The crowd clambered over each other, as pits emerged during Dum Surfer and Out Getting Ribs. The energy at the centre of the crowd was driven by King Krule's catharsis. As the set reached its climax, during Easy Easy, members of the crowd surfed against the wave of frustration. Limbs sprouted out of the mass and someone was carried off completely upside down.
Before the penultimate song of the night, Archy Marshall took a moment to thank the rest of his band, a cheer went up when he pointed out co-collaborator and longtime friend, Jamie Issacs, who was slid behind the keyboards.
See King Krule's final song from the night on youtube
Words Larry Jones