Venue: Scala, London.
Support: Anna Calvi.
Words: Phil W.
Standing alone between metal barriers at the entrance of the Scala in Kings Cross I began to suspect I may be Kaki King’s biggest fan. I had a whole twenty minutes to ponder this before anyone else joined me in the queue.
First one inside, I eagerly ascended the stairs and being a seasoned veteran of the front row, my first port of call was the bathroom. Last stop before I spend the night pressed up against the front of the stage with no room for escape! As I leave the bathroom, Kaki walks past me down the corridor and we share a momentary glance. I wonder if she recognises me from the Jazz Café. No, it’s unlikely; there must have been hundreds of gigs and hundreds of fans since then. I watch her glide away like a spectra into the bowls of the building.
There’s still no one in the main hall, everyone’s still at the bar and I take my place at the front centre of the stage. There’s no barrier tonight between the audience and the stage and I’m able to perch on the stage to chat with the people that join the audience behind me. We talk music and musicians - we’re music geeks, that’s the kind of gig this is, the kind of fans Kaki’s stuck with. We talk guitars, effects pedals, session musicians and obscure albums.
Once again Kaki is supported by the superb Anna Calvi. She opens with a massive five-minute guitar solo and it’s all up from there. Deep reverb guitar solos and passionate Latin infused vocals. As Anna’s packing away her effects pedals after the set I lean over the stage to her and ask her about CDs; there’s an album out in August apparently. It’s long overdue.
Kaki open’s with ukulele driven Spit It Back In My Mouth from the new album Junior before ploughing through a two hour set of material from all five albums. There’s a beautiful full band version of Jessica. Part way through the gig Dan and the new drummer leave the stage and Kaki dazzles us with her solo instrumental work including the epic All The Landslides Birds Have Seen Since The Beginning Of The World and the fantastic Carmine Street from her first album. “Its been a long time since I played that one!” she tells us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched footage of her playing that song on YouTube but to see her play it live now is mesmerising. Other highlights include a full band version of Pull Me Out Alive and an epic version of You Don’t Have To Be Afraid. For an encore she performs Gay Sons Of Lesbian Mothers on the lap steel and then closes with the heartbroken Sunnyside from the new album.
After the show I said hi again (I’d meet Kaki King again in July). It was another superb gig from the guitar wondergirl but what can I say, I’m a fan! Can she really be the artist I’ve been waiting for all these years? Just when I thought I was done with being a fan, an artist comes along that truly is everything I’ve been looking for. The answer may well be yes.