Live review: 3Kings at Summer Blues, Alexander’s, Chester: 2nd July

Posted on: Saturday, Jul 4, 2015

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The Summer Blues season at Alexander’s, Chester – live blues every Thursday through July and August – kicked off in earnest with a venue debut for the fast-rising 3Kings. The trio delivered their customary high-energy show based on the infectious rhythms of the North Mississippi hill country, together with a slice of Chicago and New Orleans  for good measure.

3Kings comprise of seasoned musicians, well known in the North West scene, namely Chester-based Ken Peace (harmonica and vocals); the Liverpool pairing of Neil Partington (guitar and lead vocals) and Lance Donnelly (drums) – as previously mentioned an Alexander’s debut for the band, but the guys have graced the iconic venue on many an occasion in various other outfits over the years.

The band’s sound is pretty unique on the UK scene, with their take on the music, and it perfectly highlights the band’s strengths. Ken Peace after a 10 year ‘rest’ from playing harmonica is back to his ‘big-toned’ self and also singing, and Neil Partington’s gritty vocals and fine guitar work shine, with the powerhouse drumming of the in-demand Lance Donnelly.

They kicked off in glorious fashion with a ‘coupling’ of Robert Johnson’s “If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day”, straight into Gary Clark Jnr’s “Next Door Neighbor Blues” – a fusion of two songs from different eras of the blues; the first dip into a hill country classic came with the excellent Kenny Brown’s “Miss Maybelle”, with the pace taken down a little for a rumba on “Come Go With Me”; before the rip-roaring “Kanka Kanka” – from one of the modern blues best albums – The Aces “No One Rides For Free”- like 3Kings a bass-less band, and an album worth checking out!

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The band are all fans of New Orleans funk too, and they delivered a lovely version of The Meters timeless “Cissy Strut”, which works a treat in this format, then a change of pace again for the slide-driven blues of the late John Alex-Mason’s “Riding On”, with a very unique interpretation. The great first set ended with a blast through Shawn Pittman’s “Blow This Joint”, with superb contributions from all three of the guys.

After a short break for a well-deserved beer and cool-down, it was more of the same for another hour. The second set contained many of the hill country classics, and highlights were Lightnin’ Malcolm and Cedric Burnside’s “My Lying Ass”; Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Shake ‘Em On Down”; and Ken’s ‘cautionary tale’  of looking after your lady, as he delivered the copper-bottomed classic that is “Going Down South”.

The band took Eddie Taylor’s “Bad Boy” and worked it into a very new and different arrangement, and a well-deserved encore took the shape of a frantic romp through James Cotton’s “Boogie Thing” – the tune that most Liverpool blues bands cut their teeth on!

To sum up, a hugely enjoyable night from a very fine band – catch them soon at festivals in Mold and Congleton – they come highly recommended!

GRAHAME RHODES

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