The tour must go on!
The Essex eight-piece ensemble took to the tiny Coventry Kasbah side room stage with seemingly very little going in their favour. After eight years with the ska troupe, singer Chris Watts announced his departure and forced the group to find a touring replacement, who in turn also quit. Added to this was their incredibly unfortunate luck with breaking equipment (forcing them to borrow a guitar amp, a trumpet and the rest from fellow support band The Hostiles). Regardless, the band strode into the Midlands gig with only one rehearsal under their belts and stood by the words that they would go on to sing in Dynamite; "you've got to do your thing".
In the absence of Watts, frontman duties were suitably handled by guitarist Stuart McClung, who not only acted as the communicative face of the band, but undertook the lead vocals role with passion, determination and fearlessness. The energetic octet jumped into their set, a pleasing offering focussed on the group's 2011 album Mojo. The simplistically scalic melodies of Stop were highly effective in this live scenario as they provided the support band with the opportunity to present themselves as a fun introduction to the main attraction without complication. The inevitable unpreparedness did show at times in the form of slight errors, but the Coventry crowd were clearly sympathetic and just as keen to have a good time. With the band adjusting to life without a dedicated singer, they seemed to settle back into their comfort zone with the instrumental tune New Town Hop, a song which really illustrated the group's depth and comfort performing together.
This was never going to be an easy performance for the Colchester collective, but with the remaining Reel Big Fish dates dwindling, it would have been such an unfortunate shame for the ska group to prematurely call time on their contribution to the tour with only three shows left. Despite the odds being against them, New Town Kings still managed to deliver an engaging performance to convincingly warm up the Reel Big Fish fans with a hop, skank and a jump.