Spring King - Tell Me If You Like To

Spring King – Tell Me If You Like To


I’m not letting the first-world trauma of an apparent loss of 36GB of music in a file-transfer debacle half an hour ago diminish my anticipation as I make the trip over to Band on the Wall to see Spring King. Live music’s where it’s at anyway, I tell myself. The thunderstorms of earlier have mercifully abated, and on arrival at the café/bar area I see that some delicious-looking Caribbean curry is being served up. If only I had time to tuck in. On the bill to whet our appetites for the musical main course tonight, though, is Get Inuit, and being intrigued to catch their set I resist the temptation to stuff my face.

The Get Inuit accents are British, but curiously the Seattle University, Oregon State University and Torchy’s Tacos T-shirts sported by three-quarters of the band are distinctly American. And I don’t know whether it’s because the bespectacled singer’s appearance reminds me simultaneously of Alex Edkins of Metz and Dan Wilson of Semisonic, but the band almost seems to mix the beefy guitar sound of the former band and the melodic pop sensibilities of the latter.

I don’t have an answer to why someone nearby in the crowd smells strongly of horse-chestnuts, but being more in the mood for summer than conker season, I decide to take a position closer to the stage ready for local four-piece Spring King. Today marks the occasion of the release of the band’s debut album Tell Me If You Like To, and we’ve all gathered to celebrate at this hometown gig. The band has evidently taken over the venue, having draped like pirates a huge, black ‘Spring King’ fabric at the back of the stage, obscuring the neon Dizzy Gillespie because this is a night for high-octane guitar and drum rhythms and not for any sophisticated sounds inspired by the jazz trumpeter.

Starting off with ‘Better Man’, the band is straight away looking bouncy as if sizzling in hot oil. Lead singer and drummer Tarek Musa, who has a hint of a young Huey Morgan about him, is flanked by two guitarists and a bassist, all of whom also sing. A chord change and waves of joy engulf the stage, faces beaming. I want to bottle this feeling and this energy. ‘The Summer’ is full of different vocal parts, and set highlight ‘They’re Coming for You’ slows things down and features ghostly delayed vocals. ‘Who Are You?’ suggests early Bad Brains might be an influence.

It’s been ages since I’ve seen an audience as lively and as youthful as this. A game of cat and mouse is going on between adventurous stage-diving fans and the two security guys trying to stop them. As security attention turns to one side of the stage, the opposite side sees other chancers seizing their opportunity. He might have a way to go yet to surpass Levon Helm in my affections as favourite lead-singing drummer, but Musa seems such a natural bandleader and frontman – confident, humble and charming. He asks whether we’re all looking after each other. “If someone falls over, pick them up.”

Afterwards we head outside into the pre-dusk light, and with that first full-length finally out there in the wide world, I wonder what direction the band might take from here, but it’s clear that the potential is enormous. From the recordings I’ve heard, my perception is that it’s playing live that the band truly excels, but let’s see. Time to go home and check out the album.

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Steve Jones

Apart from about five years in total, I've always lived in Manchester. Shame about the weather and lack of beach, but I do like it here. My all-time favourite gig would have to be The National at the Academy in about 2010, although I did get Matt Berninger's mic cable wrapped around my neck (that was a close one). My guilty pleasures include the music of Bruce Springsteen, and I also felt a bit bad for feeling such joy at seeing Counting Crows live in the early 2000s. I recommend Lifter Puller, a rather obnoxious and unpleasant-sounding band that I can't seem to get enough of, even though they are long disbanded. Amongst my Silent Radio gigs, I was blown away by John Murry. I'll let you know if anything tops that one.