On a recent visit to Camden’s “KOKO” I was fortunate enough to see “Dog is Dead”. A fine example of young, up and coming, talented musicians. At the time I couldn’t fathom why the gig left me a little unfulfilled as they certainty played a good set and most of the audience seemed to respond positively. However, after watching California’s “Cold War Kids” last night (9th May 2013) the answer hit me right between the eyes.

With “Cold War Kids” there is no conformity. There is no bright red X painted on the stage where Nathan Willett should be standing and on last night’s evidence if you were near a musical instrument that wasn’t strapped down then you bloody well played it (tambourines in particular took a real beating). No one in the group stood still and they were continuously on the move, almost sparring for space. Whether it was to get a crowd reaction or to play off of each other they simply used every inch of the Kentish Town Forum stage to entertain.

There was an incredible fluidity to the performance and at times it had the appearance of a jam session rather than a fully ticketed gig. It was a fantastic thing to experience in comparison to some of the more “static” gigs I’ve seen over the past few months.

The set-list spanned all four of the bands albums. There were obvious crowd pleasers in “Hang Me Up to Dry”, “We Used to Vacation” and the catchy “Miracle Mile” in particular receiving warm applause. Strangely the group introduced the low tempo “Tuxedos” at the mid-point of the set which seemed to induce a max exodus to the bar (an extremely average track that could have been difficult to recover from).  But this was the only dull point in a very well-orchestrated set.

There was no showmanship or over-elaboration. Songs from “Robbers and Cowards” through to the latest album “Dear Miss Lonelyhearts” were played in their original raw form. “Audience of One”  (from the 2009 “Behave Yourself” EP) was an outstanding success and certainly one of the surprising highlights of the evening.

“Cold War Kids” are maturing into an extremely talented band. The boys from Long Island have moved from the middle of the road to the fast lane.

A quick note to the Forum though. Please, please sort out your sound system. At times last night parts of tunes were almost un-audible. For a venue that is viewed as one of the best in London it was a real slap in the face to a touring band.

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