It’s not often that a band with just 4 albums under their belt can go on tour, willingly brand it as a ‘Best Of’, and sell out every single date … alas, circa 2006 indie dreamboats The Kooks are doing just that. Taking a career-spanning setlist out for a spin, the once-Brighton based quartet are on a crusade to prove that indie rock isn’t as dead as the NME have made it out to be. Going to see The Kooks in 2017 can earn you a scornful dismissal from some uber-alternative Twitter moguls, but for the rest of us, we’re unashamed to admit that Naive and She Moves In Her Own Way will forever be total bangers.
With Southampton’s Guildhall packed to the rafters and excitement growing after a white shawl rendered the stage obsolete, The Kooks rambled on stage to kick off the evening with their debut single Eddie’s Gun. Playing only half the song before letting You Don’t Love Me take the lead, the crowd was already inundated with mini-moshpits (unexpected) and fully into the swing of things. In an exciting showcase of new and old material, The Kooks followed on with Bad Habit and Down from their latest album, ‘Listen’.
Fulfilling the ‘Best Of…’ agenda suitably, the duo of one-off Christmas single Pull Me In and the totally colossal hit She Moves In Her Own Way preceded a new track. With their new single, Be Who You Are, enacting a full-on chant of a festival-ready riff before diving right back into their back catalogue, as See The World kept the momentum on the go. Lacking on newer material, respite from earlier songs came intermittently with Forgive and Forget and See Me Now squeezing in. The Kooks are notoriously good at the ol’ acoustic guitar/vocals combination, and as lead singer Luke Pritchard was left alone on stage, Ooh La, Sway, and Rosie found their moment to win the hearts of the 1500-strong venue.
Revelling in their glory days, The Kooks outed Matchbox, the slightly ostentatious half-reggae half-rock number from debut album ‘Inside In/Inside Out’, and left a perfect gap for the debut’s opener Seaside to sweep everyone into a big singalong with about 30 people up on one another’s shoulders. Picking up the pace, staple rock number Always Where I Need To Be was as endearing as ever, and was followed by the suave Westside, with Junk of the Heart rounding off a nostalgia-driven set.
Band dispersed and crowd chanting, a trio of sing-along hits in the form of Around Town, Shine On, and show-stopper Naive led the ultimate proof that The Kooks are still alive and kicking, albeit with an element of sentimentality.
Words by Jasmin Robinson