Kingsley Flood – Mercury Lounge – January 16, 2015
Watching Kingsley Flood play to a rowdy Friday night crowd at Mercury Lounge, the word that kept entering my mind was dynamic. That’s not surprising considering the kinetic energy that Naseem Khuri and his band brought to the stage and the room—there was nothing static about the set. The show was an official EP release party for the Boston band, and they restlessly bounced between songs from the new recording as well as older favorites that had the audience singing, clapping and dancing along. But there were also dynamics within the music itself, with many of the songs going loud then quiet then loud again or vice versa—Khuri’s lyrics and vocals filled with heartfelt emotion.
After a deceptive three-chord hummer to open the show, Kingsley Flood picked up on “Pick Your Battles,” off 2013’s Battles LP, with wailing guitar, violin and organ filling out an addictive hooked rocker. Early highlights from the new EP included “Set Me Off,” with a surf-meets-violin vibe and the quieter “Cavalry,” with Khuri moving to the keyboards while Chris Barrett on trumpet, Eva Walsh on fiddle and George Hall on guitar perfectly meshed on the beautiful melody. This was the other dynamic on display: the interplay between the guitar and violin (and occasionally the trumpet) and how they colored Khuri’s lyrics while drums and bass kept things rocking. Another highlight was “Anything Could Happen,” an Ellie Goulding cover (also on the EP), which featured a ripping, dare I say dynamic, guitar solo from Hall.
After fighting the chatty crowd with a couple of passionate quiet ones, including the excellent “Waiting for the River to Rise,” the show ended in bang! bang! bang! fashion with “Won’t Say I’m Sorry,” displaying their Boston roots with a kind of Irish-folk-punk feel, and the blazing “Down,” which, despite the lyrics “I won’t go down, down, down…” had Khuri down in the crowd doing his dynamo thing. Finishing with “I Don’t Wanna Go Home,” Kingsley Flood summed up the previous hour of rock and roll in one swing, with superlative songwriting, violin-trumpet-guitar chemistry, start-stop, quiet-loud sections, plenty of high-energy dancing in the crowd and Khuri once again bringing his dynamic talents into the audience. —A. Stein | @Neddyo