To begin, I must declare that I’m a self-confessed Kooks worshiper, so there it is- CRAZY FAN ALERT. And even though I would do practically anything to share a sofa with the oh-so-fine band, I walked into Festival Hall with the wholehearted intentions of giving readers the truth and nothing but the truth. And the truth is … Dayum! Any prior doubts of a true rock solid performance were squashed just as quickly as a bra could be ripped off.
The UK indie gods have been igniting hearts and exploding minds since forming in 2001 and with the band constantly evolving, (the occasional drummer and bass-guitarist sub outs and sub ins), they’ve produced three brilliantly diverse albums to date and numerous covers (if you haven’t already, check out their latest cover of Pumped Up Kicks, it’s delicious). Luke Pritchard lead vocalist/guitarist/crowd teaser, I mean pleaser, leads the talented group. He’s like a deadly cocktail; babe cradles guitar, with a double shot of modest curls, a pinch of boyish charm and finished with an eminent English twang. Enjoyed shaken or stirred, boom! It’s enough to put a girl into a lurve coma. This live shit is lethal.
Is It Me set the gig in motion, and from then on the wheels were a movin’. The Kooks completely owned the stage as devoted fans screamed and cheered and sang along to their notoriously catchy songs. The band’s stage presence was dynamite and oozed pure rock n’ roll. The love was spread evenly from the stage to those fans dancing out of their chairs and for all those rocking out on the ground. In fact, I’m positive no one stood still again until they at least got home and passed out on the couch. They played a mixture of songs from all three albums, with tracks from the first two albums receiving a slightly better response due to some not-so-diehard fans being unfamiliar with The Kooks latest album. So, perhaps not everyone knew their new stuff, but it didn’t mean they weren’t left with an awesome aftertaste and the want to listen to more. Tunes from their third album Junk Of The Heart released in September included How’d You Like That and Eskimo Kiss, which each have a slightly more electronic and pop feel compared to the previous two albums.
Classics such as She Moves In Her Own Way, See The World and Sofa Song from their 2006 debut album Inside In/Inside Out were enjoyed by loyal Kooks fans and Seaside was as a tasty treat from Pritchard given in an intimate and acoustic solo performance. Each song flowed effortlessly into the next, occasionally broken up by Pritchard, guitar in one hand and raising his drink in the other, checking that everyone was A-Okay. Standard, yet sincere. Favourites from their equally successful second album Konk also set hearts alight and hands clapping with tracks such as Shine On, Sway (which must be noted, got the crowd particularly rowdy) and See The Sun (a personal fav). Do You Wana was also beloved, but to be honest they had most of the crowd at Do.
Together, main man Luke and trusty wing man/lead guitarist Hugh Harris (dressed in a pink suit, like a boss) worked the stage, playing an array of guitars and each having a turn on the keyboard, which really just added fuel to the love fire. A shout out must also be given to Peter Denton on bass guitar, whose sheer duty seem to be to melt our ears off. Ear melt was successful Mr Denton. And to drummer Paul Garred, who had an almighty drum solo, which I’m sure had a majority of the guys in the crowd wetting their pants. But it was Pritchard’s dynamic (angel like) voice which really got the ladies cooing with his timely woo’s and owe’s, just enough to make one girl throw her singlet into the direction of the stage (no joke). Experience and coolness radiated from Pritchard as the singer pranced from side to side and even gave little ‘come at me’ signals to the crowd. Really, the restraint shown by girls was extraordinary.
In an impressive finish, the foursome exited the stage giving their brief goodbyes and thank yous, but let’s be honest, who were they fooling? After two or three what felt like crowd-made earth tremors, The Kooks reluctantly returned to the stage (perhaps for their own safety) to seduce us once again. I mean how could they not play Junk of the Heart (happy)? Which, ironically, did what Pritchard melodically promised, made everyone feel happy and alive. And they finally finished on the eagerly anticipated … drum roll please … Kooks fans should know this … Naïve. Pure bliss all round.
Overall, an honest and simply epic performance from The Kooks. It’s amazing what a simple set, some spectacular lighting and four musically talented guys can do. If only they visited Australia more than once every three years, sad face. But ultimately, Luke Pritchard the answer is YES. Yes, I want to see the world (preferably with you). Yes, you can have my sway. And Yes, I wana!!