The Kooks, Astoria, London
Wednesday 27 February 2008
It may come as no surprise that The Kooks' singer and rhythm guitarist Luke Pritchard is another Brit School alumnus, like indie pop band The Feeling and this year's Brit winners Kate Nash and Adele. Unlike them, however, you wouldn't find him thanking the Croydon school at an awards ceremony. After only a brief spell there he enrolled at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music, where he met drummer Paul Garred and guitarist Hugh Harris, with whom he formed The Kooks in 2003.
In the wake of the huge commercial success shared by guitar pop bands The Hoosiers and Scouting for Girls, and with Dirty Pretty Things and Babyshambles flying the flag for shambolic indie rock'n'roll, The Kooks fall somewhere in the middle, a softer, more accessible Libertines.
Their singer has always been an indie pin-up, attracting hordes of admiring teenage girls. Tonight it seems the boys are competing for space at the front. You can tell by the number of cans of lager that get thrown at the stage; one particularly accurate strike hits the cymbal bang on.
Tonight the band are showcasing material from their upcoming album Konk, but begin with a confident, rousing version of "See the World" and the sing-along song "Eddie's Gun" (about erectile disfunction) from their debut Inside In/Inside Out, before gently letting in a new one – their catchy forthcoming single "Always Where I Need To Be".
But when they want to bring out the hits, they do, melodic indie anthems "Ooh La" and "She Moves in Her Own Way" inspiring energetic dancing and best displaying Pritchard's strong vocal range.
Occasionally they slip into pop by numbers, as with the formulaic, reggae-tinged "Matchbox". "Time Awaits" is overlong, redeemed only by the switch into a shambolic rock instrumental ending. The new song "Do You Wanna" is more of a rocker, but Pritchard's slightly cheesy lyrics – "Do you wanna make love to me/ I know you wanna babe" – grate against Garred's heavy drum beat and a sleazy bassline from Logan.
But if Pritchard has ever been accused of a lack of abandon in his performance, tonight he surpasses himself, especially in his acoustic solo version of "Seaside" in the encore. In their final song of the night, "Sofa Song", Pritchard even risks venturing into the crowd like a rock star, held up by fans' outstretched arms as he sings. It couldn't possibly be an act. It's real, and we're all feeling it.
Touring to 29 April (www.thekooks.co.uk)
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