I don’t know what it is about Liverpool Olympia, but as venues go, this one always seems to bring out the best in bands and their audiences. Tonight was no different
The young crowd were gathering outside early doors, all eager to get inside for what was a great line-up (and I must give a special mention to the fashionista’s in the audience who push clothing boundaries with such eclectic ease…).
The support band, although I use that term lightly in this case, were ‘The Vryll Society’. Their set was relatively short and sweet, but ‘Air’, ‘A Perfect Rhythm’ (Their debut single) and ‘Deep Blue Skies’ were the stand outs for me. This lot are a local Liverpudlian five-piece, weaving intricate melodies over interesting vocals from lead vocalist Mike Ellis. This was a great set, reminiscent of some Psychedelic sixties and seventies bands, but for me, the comparison would be Liverpool’s own, Echo & the Bunnymen. The crowd were enthusiastic too… It’s always a good sign when the support act gets a favourable response.
But the crowd were here for The Kooks. A band from Brighton formed in 2004 and named after a David Bowie song from the ‘Hunky Dory’ album. They’ve had an interesting career, signing to Virgin within weeks of producing their first demo and going through enforced line-up changes before delivering their latest album and tour.
The latest line-up of Luke Pritchard, Hugh Harris, Alexis Nunez and Peter Denton bringing their own brand of BritPop and Post-punk to the outskirts of Liverpool during what has been a very well received selection of dates across the UK.
Behind the stage curtain, shapes and lights created a palpable tension and excitement from a mixed audience with a mainly young demographic. A fervent following, grown steadily over the years, coming together in a celebration of what is described as a ‘tenth anniversary tour’ and to see a band playing a mixture new songs and old favourites. The DJ teased them with a selection of oldies that got a mixed response… nothing for XTC’s brilliant ‘Making plans for Nigel’ and an audible gasp when New Order’s ‘Blue Monday’ burst through the speakers with that inimitable bass drum beat. All an indication that The Kooks followers were today’s youth, not a group clinging on to the music of the past…
What followed was a blistering set of 21 songs, followed for good measure by one of the best three-track encores that I have ever seen. Eddie’s Gun is a great opener, Bad Habit, Ooh La, She moves in her own way, Sweet Emotion, they are all in here, being roundly sung by the crowd, who are as energetic as you would expect at their age! The two new songs ‘Be who you are’ and ‘Broken Vow’ are tucked somewhere in the middle and rounding off the set was the quite brilliant ‘Naive’… a closing track that left the crowd on a real high of exultation, bringing down the curtain on an evening of high quality entertainment.
Fresh at the end as they were at the start, these are quality songs that stick in your head for days…. Until they start the next one…. and that’s the big take-away from watching the Kooks play live, they reproduce their studio sound, but with the reality and spontaneity of a live performance.
If you don’t believe me, get their latest album ‘The Best of… So far’ and see for yourself… If that’s not you bag, go and see them live. You won’t regret it.
Visit the Kooks website here