Marcus King, on tour for his newest album, Young Blood, headlined a lineup including Neal Francis, Ashland Craft, and a bit of comedy with Dean Delray for an outstanding night at The Egyptian Room at Old National Centre on September 27, 2022.
I could debate with anyone that Marcus King is in the very top tier of Southern rock artists these days - along with the Blackberry Smoke, Tedeschi Trucks, and Gov’t Mule. There are so many good bands out there, but I would put Marcus right up there with these other guys. As Gov't Mule's Warren Haynes has said, "the kid sounds like he’s lived a 1000 painful lives", I would agree.
King has the full package – a stellar guitarist with fiery blues/rock licks to put anyone to shame, and the guy can sing with soulful vocals above and beyond most anyone out there today. If you haven’t caught his latest album released last month, Young Blood is his best yet. He has self-professed that he was going through a tough time in his life, translating this into this amazing record majoring on the best of classic rock.
King has said, “I was going through a lot during the album with addictions, breakups, and addictions because of breakups.” The album opener, “It’s Too Late,” is a rock and roll love song about his breakup and the love and respect for a woman he’s about to lose. “It’s Too Late,” “Lie Lie Lie,” “Pain,” and “Dark Cloud" tell the tale, but Rolling Stone magazine - describes the music as defiant, not desperate; King calls it a “real war-cry kind of thing,” an attempt to rise from the ashes. King also performed several great covers including Marvin Gaye's "Trouble Man," Muddy Water's classic "I just want to make love to you," and "Hoochie Coochie Man," another tune by Muddy Waters.
I can’t think of any artist today who’s remotely similar to Marcus King. He has something special beyond guitar virtuosity, soulful vocals, and well-written songs. He has so much soul combined with a technique you simply cannot turn away. Almost a Ray Charles mixed with Hendrix-like guitar innovation and skill.
All five members of the band—drummer Jack Ryan, bass player Stephen Campbell, trumpeter/trombonist Justin Johnson, sax player Dean Mitchell, and the keyboard player.
Prior to King taking the stage, I was happy to see Neal Francis, who was familiar to me from gigs he’d played previously in Indy. The soulful singer/keyboardist grew up in Chicago playing for blues bands and has transitioned into a solo career with a catalog of songs that blend Chicago blues and a touch of New Orleans mixed with 70s rock and roll. In Plain Sight, his second album released last November has charted two songs on Billboard’s Adult Alternative Airplay chart – “Can’t Stop the Rain” last fall and recently “Problems.” I would definitely recommend his set next time he’s back in town.
Country music songstress Ashland Craft was new to me but definitely worth a repeat performance. American Songwriter claims, “there’s a new country badass in town, and her name is Ashland Craft,” also praising, “this girl has star quality flying out of her boots.”