To Kill A King – The Hope & Ruin – 25th January 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

To Kill A King have been an indie staple on the touring circuit for almost a decade now. Having just released their rather good fourth album, The Spiritual Dark Age, they descended onto Brighton’s The Hope & Ruin to showcase their brand of foot-stomping, indie-rock-via-folk music style in a show that, ultimately, proved what a bunch of lovely guys they are and how fervent their fanbase is. Additionally, it proved that the days of the good old indie sing-song are not dead, and To Kill A King have those songs in abundance.  

Opening on the night was local singer-songwriter Jacko Hooper, who confidently played to a modest audience. There’s no doubting Hooper’s voice, which exhibits the moderate maudlin, melancholy and contemplative tones of a certain Jeff Buckley, but his lyrics are a tad cliche. Described by Hooper as “whiny” on stage, the likes of ‘Run Away With Me’ come across as apathetic, rather than emotionally heartfelt. Despite this, at times Hooper has all the makings of an Ed Sheeran-like runaway success.

Next up were London’s Childcare, who were a ridiculously impressive live band. Essentially an indie-pop band, they’re structured on whimsical, spiralling basslines, blended with a silky whirlwind of jagged guitar riffs with immense pop hooks. There’s a touch of early Wombats about the band, but it’s frontman Ed Cares who is the real VIP here. Almost a bizarre amalgamation of a kids TV host and a legitimate rock’n’roll frontman, his deep croon and Prince-like strutting around the stage make for an almost addictive listen and watch.

Finally, as The Hope & Ruin started to really fill up, To Kill A King arrived on stage with their cheeky chappy personas instantly recognisable. Opening with 2011 track ‘Bloody Shirt’, it was immediately clear that To Kill A King have something that every band strives for: an undeniable, almost romantic connection with their fans. Throughout, the audience was dancing, hugging each other and, importantly, singing along to every single one of Ralph Pelleymounter’s heartfelt lyrics. To Kill A King’s upbeat, celebratory live show is clearly an exciting prospect that their fans – both young and old, male and female – can’t get enough of and, in small venues such as this, that’s mightily impressive.

Of course, the songs are great too. Title track from their latest album, The Spiritual Dark Age, features dynamic, toe-tapping indie-folk that combines a buoyant and sturdy backdrop with sombre lyrics. Likewise, Cannibals with Cutlery track ‘Funeral’ features an almost heroic, punch the air euphoria with its impressive wall of sound. They created a jubilant atmosphere throughout and, with each member of the band looking like they were having the time of their lives, the audience reciprocated that motion with whoops, cheers and masses of shape-throwing.

Essentially, To Kill A King are a very fun band with the tunes to back it up. Having supported the likes of Bastille and Dog Is Dead, it’s about time they received that amount of attention worldwide. After all, they certainly have the ardent fanbase for it. Throughout the night, Pelleymounter keeps asking the crowd if they want to, “Dance” and “have a party” and, with the crowd in constant agreement, To Kill A King completed their mission of having one of, if not the, most fun shows in town.

Liam McMillen