King Krule live at the Columbiahalle Berlin, on October 26, 2023

Foto: © fortybes (Goodlive Artists)
Even ten strange years after his début, King Krule is still all too often perceived as an eternal prodigy. Yet in the meantime, the musician has grown up to become a father himself. And you can certainly hear it. Even on this hot autumn night in Berlin.

It’s already hot and stuffy in the Columbiahalle when Archy Marshall alias King Krule appears on stage. His slender silhouette is barely visible in the haze of the persistent fog machine and the dim blue, red and orange light. This makes the music all the more impressive, with waves of jazzy, melancholic and exuberant guitar strumming and howling saxophone emanating from the stage.

The Londoner himself meanders around the stage with a somewhat hurried gait and mumbles into the microphone during the short breaks between songs, making only fragments of his words intelligible. He also allows himself a few jokes—at one point he even has the audience all meowing in unison. In contrast, the words of his songs are delivered from his lips with such vigour and urgency, as if he is spitting and spewing them at the audience.

He plays tracks from his latest album »Space Heavy« as well as classics like »Dum Surfer« and »Easy Easy«. The direct juxtaposition during the live concert makes it clear how far Marshall has come in a career that now spans over ten years. A guitar-driven, melancholic and wistful sound unites his music, which takes on a mostly dark flavour with jazz influences and muted beats. But while the songs on the older albums were often carried by a guitar melody with anecdotal tales of London and sometimes more, sometimes less functional romantic relationships, on »Space Heavy« he devotes himself to a multi-layered sound of jazzy, rushing drums, soft synths and guitars in a post-punk aesthetic. This concept was echoed in his earlier work. But finds perfection on »Space Heavy«.

Becomes more real

More hopeful and tender, but also more realistic, Marshall explores themes of fatherhood and social tensions on the album. The 19-year-old who made his début ten years ago with »6 Feet Beneath the Moon« seems far removed from the man, age 29, asking his audience to reach for the stars. What follows is »Seaforth«, a song from his latest album dedicated to his daughter, on which Marshall finds touching words: »I see you, the same eyes/reflect the world that falls apart/there’s a fire in my heart/’cause this faith is all I have«.

The pot-pourri of jazz, post-punk and trip-hop thunders and echoes through the hall, mingling with the heat of the sweaty bodies swaying to the rhythm in the sold-out venue, the wafts of fog from the fog machine and the heavy lighting, making the Columbiahalle, which is packed to its maximum capacity of 3,500 people, feel like a small underground club. In this dimly lit microcosm, King Krule manages to build bridges between expansive passages of screaming guitars and saxophones and soulful, almost introverted passages over the course of almost two hours. A grown-up adult artist. Still an exceptional artist.