Review: King Charles / Malpas / Tom Peel @HareandHounds by Charlotte Payne

King Charles / Malpas /Tom Peel
Hare and Hounds
25th March 2010

It’s generally quite rare that I go to a gig and actually want to see everyone on the bill. King Charles, supported by Malpas and Tom Peel, was just that and so I had a tough struggle with the gig-going body clock which generally prevents me arriving at any venue before 9pm.

Despite technical difficulties, Tom Peel’s genuinely unique geek chic plus makeshift cassette-deck-thing (is there actually a name for it?) was well worth the effort. Due to a hazy memory of his performance at the lovely Coffee & Cake Club Christmas Party I knew what to expect.

Dutdadadutdadadut (one about the phone) – Tom Peel

My favourite song is about a chance encounter with a legless ex-armed service man who’s trying to hitchhike. It’s a didactic tale of caution and empathy that should surely be passed down to future generations. However I’m not sure everyone would have been nice enough to say ‘take my money coz you’ve got no legs’! If the song along doesn’t bring a smile to your face then the dancing probably will. Some musicians seem to take themselves way too seriously whereas Tom definitely knows how to make an audience laugh with him.

Malpas are another act I’ve seen before, I’ve actually sought them out quite a few times and I often find myself recommending them. To be honest this relatively new electro-folk band first caught my attention when I saw front man Ali M. Forbes wearing an immense Doctor Who style scarf and the performance stood out just as much as the knitwear. (The scarf really was enough to make you want to start knitting though, and I still wonder if it was handmade…)

‘Under Her Sails’ by Malpas

I really hope that Malpas find a place in the current folk music boom. I can’t think of anything not to love about these guys and I can really imagine hearing ‘Under Her Sails’ or ‘Here Comes The Rain’ being played on BBC 6 Music. So let’s hope the BBC doesn’t axe the station before they have a chance.

King Charles is part of the super trendy London folk scene that has brought us Mumford and Sons, Laura Marling and Johnny Flynn. Familiar with one of his regular hang outs – Communion, the Notting Hill night set up by Mumford’s Ben Lovett and Kevin Jones, who is currently playing in Summer Camp –  I was VERY excited to see King Charles was coming to Birmingham, especially as this night was not part of any tour schedule. Plus thanks to King Charles falling off a mountain and suffering severe head trauma I had to wait a further month for the rearranged gig. He could be seen keenly watching both support acts and when I asked he said he was definitely impressed by Birmingham’s nu-folk scene.

King Charles

The tracks on MySpace do not do King Charles justice and ‘Mr Flick’ was an amazing entrance track! Apparently it was their first real gig of 2010 and Birmingham was clearly treated to something special as he apologised for getting carried away with his guitar, although no apology was needed. King Charles is part folk, part Jimmy Hendrix, and part snake charmer. He likes polar bears and crocodiles and made many lyrical references to them with no justification other than ‘I’ve always wanted a polar bear’.

While many seemed to be hoping for an encore (myself included) King Charles left the audience wanting more. And why not, seeing as rumour has it that he’ll be returning to Birmingham later in the year?

A word to the wise, believe me if I tell you a gig is going to be ‘amazing’! I was definitely 100% correct about this one.

Charlotte Payne
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