We saw ahab at King’s Place as part of the King’s Cross venue’s folk sessions. Just for the record, Ahab (upper-case) are a German funeral doom-metal outfit – to be remembered when googling them.
ahab (lower case) saunter on stage at King’s Place. First on is Callum Anderson, playing the first few chords of a beautiful-sounding 12-string guitar. One by one, the other band members enter and join in the opening track, the interplay between the instruments increasing in complexity, with Luke Price’s mandolin adding that uplifting country kick.
It’s the gorgeous four-part harmonies which ultimately define ahab, and create that feel-good jolt. I particularly liked the dancey number She’s Wearing Red which is introduced by Callum asking if any of the laydeez in the audience are wearing red (with his apologies for sounding a bit Axl Rose). The most emotion-laden and catchy number is the wistful Call a Waiter.
Their own material is strong with catchy hooks, and the only two numbers not their own composition are a rendition of Dylan/Old Crow Medicine Show’s ‘Wagon Wheel’ and the opening track Soldier of the Lord, by Big Country.
As for the space, the sub-basement Hall 2 at King’s Place is a room set off the main gallery/bar area. It looks like a conference venue, as Callum mentions during the show. However with the lights down low, a spacious bar conveniently situated just by the door and an enthusiastic crowd, ahab manage to whip up a good atmosphere. The audience are a mix of students with a fair few older people.
For their encore, the boys jump off the stage and get down with the audience. “We used to busk, so this is what we go back to for our encore,” they tell us. I imagine them, a few years hence, trying this at Wembley Stadium.
The venue: King’s Place, 90 York Way. Ahab tickets: £12. King’s Cross tube. Come out of the station, and walk up York Way for about ten minutes. Just as the road starts to look fairly deserted, the venue is on the right hand side.
Food etc: King’s Place is part of the whole King’s Cross regeneration, with the revamped station and Eurostar base at its heart. King’s Place is the home of The Guardian and is setting its mark as a new arts centre. Walk in the door and you’ll find yourself in a vast atrium with the Green & Fortune cafe and at the back, the Rotunda bar (to be reviewed). We ate at the Green & Fortune cafe, where we had the special for £7.95: a main course with salad and glass of wine. I chose lasagne, which was very tasty and the portion was nicely huge, but it was a tad cold – I’m sure if I had been less ravenous they would have warmed it up. My companion had the fish pie with flaky pastry topping, which he said was ‘mmmm.’ Disappointingly, the wine was those aeroplane-style little bottles. There’s plenty of seating: sofas with tables, where people are eating, drinking, or just taking refuge from the snow, and of course there are lots of copies of The Guardian around to read. There’s also a huge long dinner table, which looked very cozy and sociable. Make time to take in the two floors of gallery space, which are currently showing portraits by Adam Birtwistle. His work is amusing, not always flattering but entertaining.
* * Check out The Lexington on Pentonville Road for music, I especially love their Psychedelic Sunday lineups. Last year I saw the brilliant sitar driven Elephant Stone. They do an especially hearty Sunday lunch too.