Tell me what‘s that light? Lucifer’s the light

A spotlight on King Dude’s latest performance at The World’s End.

As the audience sings it back, King Dude wryly points out that this is the sort of music parents would love. Although he recently covered “I saw the Light” in his 1940s EP, you’ll normally find King Dude rooting for the “other guy”. On the second last night of his tour, he looks and feels like the preacher to our sermon. Even though he hails from Seattle he has the look of a Louisiana preacher straight out of True Detective. His eyes carry that look of having seen things he knows the audience couldn’t handle. Beard, black shirt with sleeves rolled to the elbows, revealing tattoos – and a past. Of course he isn’t a preacher from the south but that is how strongly King Dude’s mythology can bleed into real life. It helps that his guitar is matt black and looks otherworldly. Like some version of the Robert Johnson guitar handed to him by a demon. I like to imagine him channelling these songs through it. A notable mention must also go to his sidekick Garrett Gonzalez, serving beside him in his own pulpit.

Opener, “Deal with the Devil” from “Songs of flesh and blood in the key of light” feels like a swampy successor to one of Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads and then escalates into the bluesy jaunt of “Jesus in the Courtyard”. After this he gives a “Cocker Sparrer” reference and an eager member of the congregation makes the connection but then follows with “I’m American”. King Dude looks bemused and notes “What a weird thing to say”. Its notable because it shows that the normal barrier between artist and fan is not as present at this venue – sometimes for the worse, but usually for the better. “Forty fives say 666” continues the foreboding feeling but with a Johnny Cash engine attached to it. These all feel like timeless parables, capable of fitting seamlessly with older standards, like his cover of “Ladybird”: “Ladybird flyaway home. House is on fire, children are alone”

This gives way to genuine joy at times with a song in awe of his partner. The set ends with the beauty of his own “Silver Crucifix” and a powerful cover of Backworld’s “Devil’s Plaything”: “And he spoke to me in a language lost, and he turned my head with sweet seduction”. A perfect encapsulation of the gig as a whole. With each song it’s own world.

As with the small venue, one of the highlights of the set is at the end when King Dude and Garret stick around to auction off some of their tour merch. King Dude really shines as he parades the stage with a glint in his eye taking cash only and putting it in his top pocket. New album “Death” looks particularly beautiful in white vinyl with its gatefold sleeve. He gives his fans every respect and chance to connect – which has extra meaning if this is his last tour. I truly hope that this isn’t the case. This timeless preacher belongs in our time at the head of his sermon.

King Dude / Tell me what‘s that light? Lucifer’s the light

Artist: King Dude / @kingdudemusic
Editor: Maria Abramenko / @mariabramenko
Words: Jamie Macleod Bryden / @jamiemacleodbryden
Assistant: Alisia Marcacci / @miabrowe

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