aKING For A Nightby Zane Henry / 11.06.2009
There was this girl I dated a while back, Tracey-Lee, who was achingly hot but not terribly intellectual. I was always vaguely embarrassed to be with her in a formal setting but enjoyed her sweaty embrace in private.
My relationship with aKING is a bit like that. I listen to their CDs and am underwhelmed by the ponderous pop bluster and pretentious lyrics. But put me in a sweaty club with a forest of fists stuck in the air, singing every word to ‘I Believe’, and I start to, well, believe. Call it mass hypnosis or call it herd mentality. The fans will throw a bottle of warm beer in your face and call it rock and roll.
The launch of new album ‘Against All Odds’ at the Assembly was packed and any skepticism on my part wilted in the perspiring mass of fans. The first couple of songs breezed by without convincing me that their live act had elevated since the last time I’d seen them. It still seemed like hard work for them to project any personality from the stage. But suddenly, lead singer Laudo Liebenberg’s charisma transplant kicked in and he morphed into somewhat of a rock star.
At a successful aKING gig, there comes a point when the cheesy machismo reaches melting point and everything runs together into a puddle of glorious silliness and they make perfect sense. At the launch, this moment came during ‘Dutch Courage’ highlight ‘Safe As Houses’ when Laudo abandoned his microphone and had the huge crowd sing every word back at him. Shameless rock-star posturing, sure, but if it’s good enough for Bon Jovi, it’s good enough for aKING. And it works.
I forgive aKING. I forgive the MOR song structures. I forgive lines like ‘the evening follows me like a blanket’. I even forgive the band’s facial hair.
By the time Heuwel Fantasties’s Pierre Greef and Van Coke Kartel’s Francois Van Coke joined the band onstage for ‘Once I Arrive’, I was singing along like a mullet. Like the man himself says, “Anything too dumb to be spoken should be sung… Sing if you’ve got nothing to say”.
*Images – ©Adriaan Louw