When you make your living as a guitar player and singer, breaking your arm in a mountain bike accident days before you are scheduled to go on tour isn’t the cleverest thing to do. Something readily admitted to by Scottish bluesman Stevie Nimmo, when he posted some graphic-looking X-ray pics of his busted arm on his Facebook page. Luckily for him, instead of having to cancel the tour he was able to call on the services of his brother Alan Nimmo, whose band King King are off the road at present. In an incredible case of synergy, while Stevie cannot play the guitar but can still sing, Alan is currently recuperating from a throat problem which has forced the postponement of his own band’s dates – but still has two good arms and is therefore perfectly suited to play the guitar solos Stevie would normally handle.
I was a little late getting to Chester on this night, reliant as I was on Sunday timetables the bus was a long time in coming to get me to Liverpool city centre. By the time I got there I’d missed the intended train for Chester and had to wait at least half an hour for the next one (enough time for a quick visit to a chip shop, then!) Chips consumed and I made my way to Central Station and took the escalators underground, to find that the next train was also delayed by several minutes! As it turned out, when that train finally came, the guard announced that it would bypass several stations en route. Suited me, but no doubt a pain for anyone at the intermediate stops who was intending to get there by train!
By the time I reached Chester and made the short walk to the venue, the support (The Hexmen, hailing from Liverpool) were just finishing their set. Apologies to those guys then, but there was still plenty of room in the main hall to find a spot close to the stage. The venue wasn’t as full as anticipated, especially since it was known that Alan Nimmo would be appearing, but there were many King King T-shirts in evidence among those who had made the effort.
The trio – plus one – ambled their way onto the stage a little earlier than scheduled, Stevie with his right arm in a sling and Alan opting to wear jeans rather than his trademark kilt, and demonstrating superb taste by wearing a Thin Lizzy T-shirt 😀
From the off Stevie made frequent reference to his own mishap and the inevitable ribbing he took from Alan as well as his own bandmates (‘I deserve it’, he stressed!) while praising the younger Nimmo brother for stepping in at such short notice. (‘While I was in the hospital I got a text off Alan, saying “I suppose I’d better learn your songs, now!” ‘)
The set was heavily weighted towards Stevie’s ‘Sky Won’t Fall’ album, opening with ‘Roll The Dice Again’. When it came to a guitar solo, Stevie would step away from the microphone and position himself to the back of the stage, so that Alan could take the limelight. He did show a few signs that he missed having the guitar around his own neck, as you could see his left hand sometimes make ‘air guitar’ motions! His vocals were totally unaffected of course, he is a remarkably powerful singer and gave a first-class performance. Meanwhile, Alan (freed from vocal duties himself) was able to throw himself completely into his guitar playing. It was as though he’d been let off a leash, he is an expressive enough player with King King but here, without having to think about singing, he seemed to relish his role even more.
The material may be ‘serious’ blues, but there was still room for some joking about, especially where Alan closed out ‘Running On Back To You’; the song ended with Alan playing the riff while Stevie (using his one good arm) turned down the volume on Alan’s guitar until it was almost inaudible. He then quipped ‘I can see the social media posts now – Stevie fiddling with Alan’s knob!’ Although the brothers worked together for many years before King King took off, it must still have been a big task for Alan to pick up this material, and perform it to such a high standard with Stevie’s band (bassist Mat Beable and drummer Craig Bacon) that a newcomer would be forgiven for thinking that Alan was an integral member of this outfit.
The turnout was not quite as busy as might have been expected, especially since the presence of Alan must have generated interest, but those who came got to see something special. This was the second time I’d seen Stevie Nimmo (coincidentally the second time I’d seen Alan, too!) having seen Stevie’s trio at this place earlier in the year, but it won’t be the last. To conclude, if you have recently discovered King King off the back of their high-profile support appearances over the past year, you really should give the older Nimmo brother your time as well.
FOOTNOTE: The Live Rooms is a venue I’ve attended numerous times over the past year and have plans to do so again; however I recently saw a Facebook post from a well-known local musician slating its recruitment policy. I am looking into this, if verified it would be disappointing and would make me question whether it should be supported by bands or punters in future. A blog post will appear following verification of the Facebook post.