This Kooks article was written by Bethany Gray, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Ben Kendall.
With the hazy days of 2006’s ‘Inside in/Inside Out’ seemingly left behind in a blur of sunshine and forgotten soundtracks of vague Britpop-inspired memories; The Kooks artistic career has shown an arguably jittery and catchy-as-hell direction until 2014’s ‘Listen’ bounced them into a new dimension.
A shambolic groove led the 90 minutes of pop revitalization at Barbican, York’s most prestigious yet restrictive venue – with front man Luke Pritchard’s enthusiasm reaching even the farthest of seats. As the band powered effortlessly through the set, firm favorites such as ‘Always Where I Need To Be’ and ‘Ooh La’ were tentatively placed among the more boisterous and recent singles from ‘Listen’, as if the band were striving wholeheartedly for their new, bona-fide sound. That’s not to say, however, that The Kooks have lost their endearing essence.
The decision to jump straight in with 2006’s sweet nothing, ‘Seaside’ engaged the humble passion of the crowd as they chimed in with their nostalgic Kooks passion, and obediently following joyously through ‘See The World’ and ‘Always Where I Need To Be’ – the latter of which serving as an easy reminder of the ‘feel-good’ pace which makes The Kooks so electrifying. The well-rehearsed quality of the most famous Kooks’ songs, however, creates a slight aura of ingenuity about their performance, masked only through Pritchard’s flamboyant moves and the fan’s unwavering loyalty. In respect, this is a band who have been undoubtedly defined by their initial indie-like sound.
The experimentation of ‘Listen’ appears to have payed off, as the crowd render themselves to the optimistic beat of ‘Around Town’ and ‘Down’ which immediately create a more funky sound, obviously developed for the acoustics of live playing. Undoubtedly, The Kooks are hindered by their peppy rock being tailored to easy listeners, lending way to an undemanding and steadfast live set. However, it’s this simplicity that makes The Kooks so effective. As they effortlessly bounce into ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’, it’s clear that this is a band who’s one key outcome is to make sure the audience have, in all its simplicity, a damn good night.
The often unaccredited Hugh Harris on lead guitar is instrumental in providing a lively Britpop feel to the live performance, making sure the setlist constantly feeds off dance vibes. ‘See Me Now’ allows Pritchard to perform an acoustic piano ballad to his lost Father, although infamously not the strongest of singers, it was a rare moment of pure authenticity which highlighted the strength of Kooks fans, as they harmoniously joined in. However, once again, it’s through the unmistakable riff of ‘Naive’ that causes the crowd to bounce back to life, ricocheting of every perceivable crevice Barbican has to offer.
In short, although The Kooks ‘cool days’ may be over, the band have remained crucial in delivering satisfaction to their audience. Albeit seeming a bit artificial for those who enjoy the invigorating sensation of a unique live performance, it’s their aura of simplicity and ‘feel good vibes’ that keep them relevant amidst an ever developing live circuit.