Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Live Review :: Kingsley Chapman and the Murder :: The Victoria, Dalston - Jan 14 2016
Kingsley Chapman and the Murder
The Victoria, Dalston, London
January 14 2016
Words: Linn Branson
If there's a question to be asked, it's where do Kingsley Chapman and the Murder fit in in today's live music scene? Too intelligent and articulate for the teens still growing up on Bieber and One Direction and awaiting their next X Factor boyband love crush; too dark, deep and serious for lager-swilling 'lads' looking for a night of laughs, 'avin it; and with the band's chamber-pop style geared for listening rather than lusting, not possibly high of the list of groupie swingers.
Chapman, in this new line-up, as was the case before with the equally lauded Chapman Family, is uncompromising, genre-defying and ultimately gripping to both watch and hear, but sadly, one fears while they may garner a loyal cult fanbase, this is not an act we will likely see headlining on big arena stages. Which is not to say they shouldn't, quite the opposite; in fact, a venue such as Union Chapel, for example, with all its atmospherics, and with visual elements such as a video screen, would be a fitting environment in which to behold this band and suited to their somewhat grand projection style.
Tonight at the revamped Victoria in east-London, the north-east Teessiders brought seven men, copious bottles of 'liquid refreshment' (a full bottle of red wine in the case of the frontman) and crammed them onto a stage along with guitars, keyboards, two drum kits, a violin and a trumpet. As already inferred, Kingsley Chapman is, rather like his full-bodied Beaujolais, a taste to be savoured on the lips, rather than gulped down the throat like say, a cheap Liebfraumilch.
Chapman has made known his debt to David Bowie as a guiding influence on his work, and indeed both 'Olympians' and 'Lovers' resound with inflections of the late artist, though in a kind of Nick Cave/Leonard Cohen/Morrissey hybrid.
'Olympians' was the first of KC and the Murder's "cabaret death songs" early last year and where we saw the incorporation of strings, violin, and piano in its arrangement. All five-minutes-plus of it, have a certain majesty, from the powerfully arresting piano opening, the swooning vocal croon, to the very last dying strings. The big 'love song' declaration, 'Lovers', pounds out
furious piano and lashings of strings, mixed with Kingsley’s delightful north-east inflected vowels ("we should be luvvers").
In between these two giants is 'Second Best Man', a slow ballad where Chapman exerts meaningful depth to his vocal against a trumpet and violin lament, and the barbed 'Poison Tongues' delivered with a brooding intensity, suiting for its brutish lyrics that derived from a scene he witnessed of late night Middlesbrough aggro.
The close of the set comes with a ten-minute-plus tear-jerking cover of Bowie's 'Heroes', performed here tonight in part tribute to a friend of theirs who had also passed away that same week. It is a worthy finale, executed with sincerity and guitar aplomb. If you weren't in tears, you weren't really there.