Live Review: Kings X, The Astoria, April, 1990


The inevitable dry ice billows forth from the stage, followed by a suitable doomy intro; Kings X take the stage well after their anticipated time of appearance.

Kings X are probably one of the biggest CULT bands on the rock circuit, as tonight's full house testifies. They're a three-piece hailing from Houston, Texas with an indefinable and unorthodox persona. Like ZZ Top, they are three guys from the One Star State, but that's where any similarity ends. Trying to place this band's influences can prove difficult to say the least, whether you've seen/ heard them before or not.

Kings X are men of few words, but early on we're assured "we'll do the best we can."

The mystery men seem to be predisposed towards lengthy, broodingly atmospheric songs like the enigmatically entitled Out of the Silent Planet, which is slightly softened by Doug Pinnick's tender vocal. Complex acid-blues guitar help create this dark mood. It's particularly evident on songs like Over My Head and In the Ice Age. This approach seems to appeal to both the musos and the ordinary fans amongst the audience.

Kings X are obviously appreciative of their U.K. fans, bearing in mind that their fellow countrymen don't know what to make of them. As Doug Pinnick puts it, "We're always surprised about how many people come to see's true!" Such refreshing modesty, usually lacking in this genre.

Kings X go their own sweet way. They don't follow the standardized rule-book. When they tell us they're gonna do "a couple of love songs," we're not served up formularized AOR ballads. Power of Love and especially the very heavy Shot of Love are proof of that. if anything the next song Pliades (a mythological reference perhaps?) is more accessible and you can almost dance to it!

My one major reservation tonight is that they occassionally get tedious, but then people tell me that my attention span has waned in my old age. Despite my advancing senility, I still think that the material on offer lacks a little variety.

It's been over two hours and they're still doing the encores! They create a formidable wall of sound for The Mission, which is both mesmerizing and emotive. Burning Down finally brings down the curtain on the punishing set.

If Kings X intrigue you, I suggest you buy the album first. Not immediately accessible or easy to pin down, but then with Kings X that's half the fun.

Mark Liddell
Riff Raff
June, 1990
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