When a crowd is ravenous for dance before the band takes the stage, you know you’re in for a good show. King Khan and the Shrines don’t disappoint. At NXNE they privilege the sold-out Legendary Horseshoe Tavern by gracing us with their royal presence.
I’m anticipating to see how the reputation for scantily clad stage antics will carry forward. The multitude in attendance swell forward when his majesty King Khan appears to the blaring brass introduction.
Move over, James Brown. King Khan is a fresh patriarch and deserves his self-anointed crown. Sourcing garage-rock of the 60s, and combining it with protest soul/funk, King Khan and the Shrines perform an opus for the plights of minorities of race and sexual orientation for today.
Their set is explosive; with only a couple songs from their latest album, Idle no More, it surges with untamed tempo. The band is tight and will interchange instruments while thrashing and flailing across the intimate stage. Which proves to be too small, as the horn/rhythm section and guitar players get down into the crowd to jam amongst the thick of the gyrating mass packed against the stage.
Early on, songs like No Regrets and Luckiest Man set the pace and command you groove – lest you be subject to the distain of this sovereign of soul.
When you’re not dancing, he points you out – calls you a sheep. After a wild interlude, where the band is groovy and playing something like electro-swing along side a cryptic recording of almost unintelligible babble, King Khan reappears. Changing from his ‘rented’ Hawaiian tuxedo to a black forming hosiery that leaves little to the imagination.
King Khan’s peculiar demeanour has this NXNE crowd obey his every decree. During Shivers, he has Toronto get down on their knees – and moan. He wants to hear what we sound like when we climax. The crowd dutifully complies.
NXNE this year is smart to include this overwhelming Montreal-born frontman. I recommend their live energy and sweat-inducing sets over their albums. The magic of his royal highness, King Khan is in his stage presence.
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Review and Photos by Myles Herod |