King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys are one of those rare bands that have moved from being a popular beat combo to an institution.
Their retro, good time swing and rock and roll sound, married to impeccable musicianship and stage presence has meant that they have been a solid and popular draw on the local live music scene for a long time.
The group, led by King Pleasure on lead vocals and tenor and baritone sax, with support from Boysie Battrum on tenor and alto Sax, pianist Crab Claw Tromans, Bullmoose K Shirley on guitar, Dangerous Dave Wilkes on drums, and the animated Shark Von Schtoop on double bass, played a varied, but largely upbeat set of material, ranging from songs made famous by singers including Nat King Cole and Ray Charles, to instrumentals that featured tight unison playing and solos from all of the band members.
They started the first set with I’m Glad and This Is It before a blues medley that reworked a number of well known tunes into a much slower framework. Everyday I Have The Blues, Well Alright and Going to Chicago were the chosen songs, and the newer arrangements suited the band well, although at times the three-song treatment was a bit too long for the dancers. Shorter numbers, such as Shake, Rattle and Roll and the instrumental Back to the Chicken Shed were better examples of the band in full flight.
The second half started with Barracuda and the swing of Back to Birmingham before Let There Be Love – one of Nat King Cole’s more famous songs – showed a more restrained and sophisticated side to King Pleasure’s sound.
After this, the energy level was lifted, with readings of Ray Charles Roll with my Baby and a full band arrangement of the well known instrumental Tequilla, with the upbeat swing of Going to California finishing the concert.
The near-capacity audience would not let the band go without an encore, which was Little Town, with its complicated chords and timing showing that King Pleasure have more to their repertoire than good time, foot tapping tunes.