Having had the pleasure to see The Kooks a few times before over the last 5 years, it is amazing to see the band they have now become since that first appearance in the upstairs bar room of the old Birmingham Academy. Flash forward over 5 and a half years and we now have a band that is oozing with confidence, bursting with hits and seemingly loving every second of being on stage.
There was GREAT support from Scoundrels, a genuinely a brilliant 4 piece band from London, who love to infuse jazz, blues, rock and country into a fresh and contemporary sound... no we don't know how either. The crowd was already pumped, but with such refreshingly good support, the stage was set for a brilliant night.
The main event arrived on stage just after 9, and opened the show with the debut single 'Is It Me' off their latest album 'Junk Of The Heart'. It would have been easy at this point to just roll through a few of the track off the newest album, but that didn't seem to be what Luke and the boys wanted to do. They then moved on to 'Always Where I Need To Be' from their second album 'Konk' and 'Sofa Song' from their epic debut album 'Inside In/Inside Out'.
This format set the president for the evening, blending the best tracks of their latest album with the biggest hits from the previous two. A "Greatest Hits" style gig was really underway with the O2 Academy packed to the rafters. The floor was shaking, hands and phones were in the air and Luke himself even said "it's like a festival in here", which it really was. Annoying girls on peoples shoulders and the atmosphere of a party sweeping beneath them throughout, the festive cheer was rife.
Working through the big singles 'Ooh La', 'She Moves In Her Own Way', 'Shine On' and 'Sway' all provoked huge sing-a-long's but none, and I mean NONE compared with the acoustic performance of 'Seaside'. Luke was left alone on the stage, just a spotlight and his acoustic guitar, but with a couple of thousand backing singers the noise for this song (an unreleased album track) was immense. Everybody knew every word and it truly was a special moment.
Back in 2006, The Kooks performance was musically brilliant, but with their limited material having to go from one album alone, they would have struggled to fill an hour and a half slot. But with 3 critically acclaimed albums behind them now, they are in the brilliant position of having too much to fit in. This really shows with the new found swagger of front man Luke, teasing, flirting and chatting with the crowd at every opportunity, he more than most has come a very long way in the last 5 years.
After a few more of the big hits, with 'Rosie', 'Eskimo Kiss' and 'How'd You Like That' mixed in for good measure the lads retired off stage. Only to be screamed back on with chants of "more" and with an impromptu crowd chorus of "I know, she knows that I'm not fond of asking"... we all knew what was coming. The four lads arrived back on stage, treated us to a brand new track, followed by the title track of their new album 'Junk Of The Heart (Happy)' and then the song everyone had been waiting for... 'Naive', this is when it really went off. The song that closed the show, the band's biggest hit to date is the one that Luke wrote, aged 16, tucked away in his bedroom... hard to beleive how far this band have come since their formation back in 2004, and ten years since that track was written.
2012 looks to be a great year for the Brighton boys, with the line up seemingly stable again since Pete's arrival as bass player, expect to see some pretty high billings at next years festivals.
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