Kingsley Chapman and The Murder, @ Sebright Arms

Kingsley Chapman and The Murder at Sebright Arms, London, 24th November, supported by James Brute and Avalanche Party.

Kingsley Chapman and The Murder

Kingsley Chapman and The Murder - by Terry Tyldesley

Kingsley Chapman is billed as a singer of ‘cabaret death songs’, but it’s a bit of an understatement. Cabaret can be comic as well as dark, and even trivial. There may be some quips tossed at the audience, and yes he is dramatic, but Kingsley Chapman live, is intense, thrilling and brilliant, on this night of great sounds.

Avalanche Party

Avalanche Party - by Terry Tyldesley

Garage rock n rollers Avalanche Party kicked off a really strong bill. The North Yorkshire band fuse rock, punk, glam and great vocal harmonies, with in your face audience stimulation – frontman Jordan Bell storming through the crowd wielding his guitar like a knight with a lance. Shimmering guitar atmospherics and punchy bass and drums completed the party-starting machine.

James Brute

James Brute - by Terry Tyldesley

James Brute’s current release is the deliciously catchy and macabre stripped down song ‘Bury Yourself’, it’s ‘fuck blues / doom-wop’ for the 21st Century. It worked beautifully live, with handclaps and minimal percussion. The rest of the set featured turbocharged blues songs and gorgeous guitar licks with some Spanish stylings.

Kingsley Chapman and The Murder

Kingsley Chapman and The Murder - by Terry Tyldesley

If the audience was already roused by the previous darkness and thunder, things were only going to get more intense.

Jazz Summers, the late great music manager, was a man who understood musicians, and once said ‘As an artist you have to cut your chest open and let your soul out. It’s not an easy thing to do.’

Kingsley Chapman gave the impression he does that every day before breakfast, and opens up everything else straight after.

‘There haven’t been enough ballads yet tonight’ he announced, ‘I’m going to up the ballad quota’, before breaking us in gently with ‘Olympians’. Kingsley’s ballads may be melodic and popular, but they don’t fit in the same universe as the likes of Celine Dion.

Kingsley Chapman and The Murder - by Terry Tyldesley

‘Guillotine’ was announced as a song for David Cameron who is ‘fucking up the country’, and was a passionate tale of terminal justice ‘your blue blood will run red…’.

Kingsley’s unique take on the world was also evident in new Christmas song ‘The Stars Fall Down’. No elves or sleigh bells, but plenty of sky action. It’s about a fed-up Jesus only getting attention one day a year, at Christmas, he explained. ‘And Easter!’ heckled/teased Nadine Shah from the audience. Featuring yet another stunning arrangement and memorable chorus, it was a dark beauty, that played out like a love song.

The Murder are as fine a bunch of musical miscreants as can share a stage. Two ferocious drummers, a violinist shredding his bow, a heart-piercing trumpeter, a brilliant pianist who often leads the pack, and a prowling bass player. The Murder may have other musical incarnations, but with Kingsley at the front, they are on fire. Swigging from bottles of wine inbetween playing, everything about Kingsley and The Murder was super-sized.

Kingsley Chapman and The Murder - by Terry Tyldesley

Kingsley played fierce guitar on some of the songs but towards the end of the set his amp broke. For a moment he too looked broken, but he rallied. ‘This may sound a bit strange’ he warned before starting a guitarless tune. Nothing sounded strange, it was more otherworldly, challenging, beautiful and re-wakening.

The final song ‘Kill That Man’ had the audience holding their breath. It crashed from a rollercoaster of sound to a terrifying quietness with just Kingsley’s voice describing a savage evisceration. Suddenly The Murder sprang into life again even more murderously. In a frenzy one of the drummers began knocking his drums over, and the set finished with two drum kits strewn around the stage. The human wreckage – an audience of Kingsley disciples old and new - filed reverently out of the door.

Kingsley Chapman and The Murder - by Terry Tyldesley

Kingsley Chapman and The Murder are: Kingsley Chapman, Ben Hopkinson, Robbie Major, Ben Muriel, Ian Snowball, Jonny Snowball and James Leonard Hewitson.



  • Kingsley Chapman and The Murder support Field Music on 29th January in Kingsley’s hometown of Stockton-on-Tees.

    You can read our Field Music interview from their Mercury Prize nomination here.