The Kooks @ O2 Academy

Brighton four piece, The Kooks paid Newcastle’s O2 Academy a visit last week. Since the release of their debut Inside In, Inside Out in 2006, it’s become a quintessential indie album while they’ve risen to the top of the scene. Eleven years later they’re doing the rounds with the album where it all began and they haven’t missed a beat since.

From mid-afternoon there’s teenagers queued up round the Academy in their rite of passage. The show was sold out and you could tell just in the atmosphere of the venue. There were a full spectrum of fans in the building, those who’d grown up with The Kooks and those that’d just found them recently but they all seemed to have the same excitement about them.

Clean Cut Kid, a Liverpudlian four piece, came on with a bounce. The band delivered the powerful pop they’re getting a reputation for. Their dynamic vocals cut through the slinky guitars of Make Believe nicely. Fans jumped around and spurred on a particularly lovely rendition of Vitamin C, the soaring chorus proving a winner. Clean Cut Kid were ready to go and full of gusto, showing that live performance is where they built their name.*

*This paragraph has been edited following a valid point raised by the band about the first version.

There was a great flowing semi-opaque curtain up before the Kooks came on and something about it seemed right, maybe its the floaty, summery feeling that the Kooks bring. The curtain drops almost as quickly as the calm descends into chaos when they come on, launching into Eddie’s Gun.

Frontman, Luke Pritchard swaggered, danced and strutted about demanding the attention of all 2,000 people in the crowd. By the end of the night there wasn’t a person in the house that didn’t want to be the microphone stand he danced with for 90 minutes. It might be coming up fifteen years since The Kooks formed but Pritchard still acts the cheeky 20 something he once was.

The setlist weaves the best of each album through each other, veering swiftly between Seaside and Westside. The crowd couldn’t be more into it; there’s groups stood still, dancing, jumping and swaying but no one cares, they’re all there to sing along with ten years of Kooks hits.

They play two new songs, the already released Be Who You Are and the as of yet unheard Broken Vow. The first of the two garnered a response not far off that of the Inside In Inside Out favourites, there was even a pit for a while. Broken Vow and Pritchard even got a singalong going for the chorus.

With the night drawing to a close, the band take a minute to tell the crowd the importance of voting. It’s a heartfelt and pragmatic call to ‘those who care about their future’ no matter how many times it may have been regurgitated across all eighteen dates of their tour.

The Kooks close the set with the ultimate crowd pleaser, Naive.  Seeing the way all four members of the band bob and sway to the song that made them famous a decade ago makes it clear that they have nothing left to prove, this run of shows is a celebration for band and fans alike. Even with a Best Of.. on the way, the Kooks don’t show any signs of slowing down yet.

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