I very very recently listened to London based King Lizard’s second full length ‘A Nightmare Livin’ The Dream’ and it genuinely created enough moisture in my underpants to want to see them live.
Yes, I am one of those unfortunate people who has never seen King Lizard perform live before, even though they have been around in one incarnation or another for almost ten years. I can only apologise for this lapse, but this is now a completely changed situation.
My metal and rock of choice tends to be the face smashing Gojira, the Kvelertak style pit crushers, the Black Breath style skull flatteners and the lip curling flare wearing Graveyard blues rockers. King Lizard’s follow up however, sunk its fine meaty hooks deeply into my chest from the first listen, which frankly caught me completely off guard, but boy am I glad.
The bands début album ‘Viva La Decadence’ released in 2010, with songs produced by both Andy Brook (Shush/Catfight) and Chris Tsangarides (Thin Lizzy/Judas Priest), but this time round, King Lizard went a different route choosing producer Pedro Ferreira (The Darkness, Enter Shikari) at Snap Studios. It was a good move. They have retained their ‘dripping with sex’ groove, but appear yet ballsier and the maturity in the two year progression is obvious.
There is a fear when an album grabs you so roughly by the bazoongas and bites into your neck, that it may not be able to deliver the same emotion in a live setting. I found myself almost in advance, expecting to walk away feeling deflated and let down. That was, until the band sauntered on stage at The Bull & Gate in Kentish Town.
That is all it took. My brow creased in a quizzical manner, they took their positions. And with their “Viva La Decadence” stage backdrop showing a nipple or two, King Lizard began to play.
And by feck they can play.
It was hard to know where to look, not because you had to search for something to grab your interest, but because it was one of those rare situations you encounter whereby you could have stood watching any one of the band and felt like you had seen an entire show.
That said, unlike some ‘Sleaze” rock bands I could name (but won’t), there was no sign of inflated egos or self-indulgent “look at me” behaviour. There was no pointless fret wankery or cliché posing, in fact, I can sum them up concisely by the phrase “What the feck are they doing on such a small stage? WHAT THE feck ARE THEY DOING ON SUCH A SMALL STAGE?”
Vocalist Flash Roxx does have a right set of lungs on him, doesn’t he.
Perhaps modelled ever so slightly on Vince Neil, this is really no bad thing at all; nor is it a dig, because Flash is the younger, fitter, testosterone-fuelled, wrinkle-free all improved version with a spotlessly pitched, effortlessly powerful knicker elastic melting vocal.
Flash by name, Flash by nature; but without the cringe-worthy whiff of aged Gorgonzola so often found on display in emerging frontmen of this genre. He found time in between holding court with his clearly adoring fans to tell us he wasn’t gay, he was 10% more man than Niro Knox because he had a foreskin, and that one song “That Ain’t Love” was about a ‘lovely‘ ex-girlfriend.
Belting out the 10 track set with more fire and passion than I have seen in a frontman in a long while, Roxx has clearly honed his stage persona into a truly lovable, rogue. A playfully mischievous, rock star dirtbag. Which is a perfect representation of the King Lizard sound.
Knox is a born showman; but not just a showman, the Israeli lead guitarist probably learned guitar in the womb. I completely believe he would have popped out whipping his long thick curls from side to side, lacerating his poor mother and the midwife in the process.
This man was born to play in a rock band.
Chock full of energy and riffs to make some guy called Wylde truly jealous, Niro even found time to tell us a Jewish joke or two, and chug a bottle of beer with his head back, hands free, whilst shredding away on his beautiful Les Paul.
And he didn’t hurl it all back up either. Extra rock n roll points. Knox also began the set fully clothed, but by the end he was topless and grinning in the crowd, being kissed and mauled by fans eager to get a mere touch, instant star quality alert. Da boy can sure play. A grinning whirlwind of hair and fingers.
Now, everyone knows I love me a great drummer, and Spanish-born Moyano El Buffalo is just that, but with added whoop-ass. I couldn’t figure out why he looked so familiar at first, then it hit me. He is Keith Richards! Granted, the younger, hotter, funnier, drummer version; but he is Keith Richards, except for three times as crazy.
That’s not to say the punk haired bandanna-wearing basher was all style over substance – far from it. It was full on octopus stylie, producing well-timed ear pounding skin bashing with most excellent air drum appeal. To call a drummer such as this ‘a backdrop’ would be doing him a disservice, as he was up and out of his seat frequently, engaging the crowd at every opportunity, but again not trying to steal the limelight. I was transfixed for most of the set.
I also found myself grinning inanely at the added bonus comedy faces he pulled, rather à la Tre Cool from Green Day, but without the ‘Annoying Little crud Disorder’ issue. I almost fell in love.
Amongst these three showmen, you’d think the bass player would largely go unnoticed, but no. Not a hope in hell in this case.
Lee Benz, the CBGB wearing backbone was just as animated, his dark locks swishing whilst throwing out lick after delicious lick of pure filthy bassy goodness.
Benz was more understated than the rest, but again, no less watch-worthy. Confidently singing straight into the eyes of the girls stood in front of him knowing full well if he issued a command to “strip”, they would have. Right there and then. Solid, interesting bass players that don’t stand there like a stoned tree staring at their strings are a godsend; Benz brought it to the table, then smashed the table to bits.
Ending the already impressive set (dedicating this last song to their album producer), came a very recognisable, yet surprised face inducing guitar intro; King Lizard launched into a far raunchier, sped up and sexed-up version of legendary rock ‘n roll anthem ‘Johnny B Goode’, spurring the already stoked and sweaty crowd into an animated sing-along to close the evening’s proceedings.
The absolute high point of the set for me was album title track ‘A Nightmare Livin’ a Dream’. This is all out hooky hard rock perfection. The chorus ”No Job…. No Cash…. No Future… It’s a nightmare livin’ a dream”, which Roxx encouraged the crowd to chant, is instant commercial radio play material, compilation material, and a tune to whack on when you feel like bursting out of the boredom of daily life.
I still have this chorus in my head, while updating this review 24 hours later. It’s a frikkin’ corker of a tune that could become an all out rock classic.
The on stage chemistry these four rockers possess; and the delivery of the expertly crafted, massively hook laden sing-a-long rock songs smacks easily of ‘Arena Legends in the making’. Oozing confidence and sleaze laden flair with no lulls or low points in their musical offerings and performance, King Lizard are fully able and completely ready to step up the next few rungs of the torn, laddered stockings of Rock n Roll fame.
Time’s almost up Motley Crue, and step aside, Guns N Roses; King Lizard are destined to be the UK heirs to the Dirty Rock Throne.
With the addition of an extra track ‘Not For Me’ after ‘This Ain’t Love’
- Flash Roxx Sawyer- Lead Vocals
- Niro Knox – Guitars
- Moyano El Buffalo – Drums
- Lee Benz – Bass