King Creosote is no stranger to marital match-making. Having agreed to perform at the wedding of a random couple he met at this year’s Green Man Festival in return for a tank of diesel and a bed for the night, he’s at it again tonight at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, successfully proposing to one fan on behalf of another. His cupid powers are no coincidence. You need only see King Creosote’s live set once to be wooed.
At times he treads tonight's stage with a rose, thrown from the crowd, clenched between his teeth, but it hasn’t all been church bells and confetti for Kenny Anderson, the scruffy man from Fife who hides behind his self-jibing regal title. Years of plugging his own label and his unique brand of surreal but uplifting folk music, not just to a fickle industry but also to the musicians he’s relied on to fulfil his vision, have taken their toll. Bands built around him have fallen apart, with members growing weary of his quest for psychedelic perfection.
But that was then and this is now. King Creosote is currently being hailed, alongside contemporaries such as The Earlies and Tunng, for helping dig the so-called nu-folk scene from its previously underground depths, and such is his recent rise that he rightly headlines a night also featuring NME darlings Larrikin Love and Swedish hipsters Peter, Bjorn and John. The hierarchy this evening is perhaps only fully realised when Anderson refers to the latter as "Peter, Bjorn and Benny" whilst thanking his support acts, although you can’t suspect arrogance for a second.
For while his latest record title testifies that ‘KC Rules OK’, there’s nothing smug, air-punching or triumphant in the band’s delivery here. Lyrically, there's an air of discontentment, but because of the band's onstage banter it's all just lot of fun - and an utterly heart warming spectacle. Kicking off tonight’s show with album opener and one of its stand out highlights, ‘Not One Bit Ashamed’ with it’s damning odes of “it’s not good enough”, his band are downright humble in comparison to the acts that proceed. More upbeat moments arrive in the form of the country-tinged ‘Jumping At The Cat’, 21st century Frog Song ‘You Are Could I’, and the off-kilter ‘Vice Like Gist Of It’, during which tour buddy Jeremy Warmsley plays guitar and adds vocal support.
The set throbs throughout with accordions, flutes and violins all being thrown into the heady fray, underpinned by Anderson’s sombre, stirring and ever so Scottish voice. ‘6, 7, 8’ is a colossal masterpiece and a suitable song to finish on, before the band reappear for a two song encore that bravely matches a delicate and haunting version of Sinead O’Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares To You’ with the prozac lunacy of The Aliens’ current single ‘The Happy Song’. It’s enough to make you want to get married.