Monday, February 20, 2006

The Return of the Philosopher Kings

Last night, went to an awesome show at the Starlite Room with the triumphant return to the stage of the Philosopher Kings after about 7 or 8 years -- almost 10 years since their last studio album. But man, I forgot what a rockin' show they put on. Last time I saw them at the newly built Winspear Centre (which was sweet), but now they're back in a small club venue (which is sweeter).

Unfortunately due to an overlong dinner, we came in just as the Jon Levine Band was ending their opening set. Jon is the insanely talented keyboard player for the PKs doing his solo act. I wonder how many keyboards he goes through because he just destroys the keys when he hammers 'em. I didn't realize this until tonight, but he writes or co-writes the majority of the PK's material. His solo band features a lot more of his piano wizardry (lucky for me!) and I immediately bought one of his CDs despite missing nearly all of his set. It does not disappoint. He's got some MP3 downloads on his site, though I have no idea where you could get his CD outside of the shows. Check out "Happy" or all of them, for that matter.

After the Jon Levine Band, James Bryan came on to perform about 3 songs. James Bryan (AKA James McCollum) the equally insanely talented guitarist for the Kings and is probably better known as the muscle-bound Milo, half of the cartoon band Prozzak (pre-Gorillaz). It's amazing to watch his blazing guitar work and his solo act allows him to showcase this more than on the PK's albums. I also picked up his solo album, which is actually quite different from the live act. The album is more fused with some electronica beats and guest vocals, while his live show was performed raw with the PK's drummer and bassist. Still pretty sweet though, and even features a cover (joy!) of Bizarre Love Triangle.

James Bryan - Jelly Walk
James Bryan - Bizarre Love Triangle (vocals: Alessa) [originally by New Order]

The real treat was, of course, the long awaited reunion of the Philosopher Kings. And they have not missed a beat. I haven't listened to their new album Castles yet (released on Valentine's Day) and I was a little worried it was going to be all about the love ballads. But they unleashed an eclectic mix of soul, funk, blues, pop, and rock that can only be described as Philosopher Kings. The best part was when they introduced the new bassist and had him initiated to the PK experience by having him strut his bass skills on a solo. Then James Bryan performed his own solo, and the two had a back-and-forth guitar/bass duel trying to one-up each other. During the encore Hurts To Love You, they do Gerald Eaton's (AKA Jarvis Church) "favourite part of the show", where he invites one of the screaming girls on stage to personally sing to them some Marvin Gaye. Their live show is great-- catch 'em if you can!

From their One Night Stand live album from 1999:
The Philosopher Kings - Hurts to Love You medley
(featuring "I've Been Loving you Too Long (To Stop Now)", "At Last", and "Let's Get it On")


alainsane said...


I am trying to reconcile conflicting reports of release dates for this Philosopher Kings' album called Castles. You seem to be a TPK enthusiast, and you live in Canada, so I don't know why you wouldn't have gotten it sooner, if it had been released in November of 2005. There are scattered Blog posts from November of 2005 saying that the album is due to come out: first on November 15th, then on November 22nd. But nobody does any reviews of it until February, 2006. It makes me think that the album was originally slated for a November, 2005 release but then got yanked at the last minute--not to be released officially until Febrary 14th, 2006. I know this is a ways back, but does this sound at all like what happened?



Fongolia said...


I barely remember any details from back then, but even when I look at my old blog posts, you can tell I was expecting a November 2005 release too. Yes, I'm thinking it got delayed for some reason or another. I searched through my old e-mails and found the official Philosopher Kings newsletter, which definitely confirms the February 14, 2006 release date.

Maybe there's also some confusion since their single Castles in the Sand was released to radio and iTunes in November?

Hope that helps!