A “Best Of…” tour: an expectation of sorts, that an artists’ best is behind them. Yet for The Kooks, this is a rebirth, and they’re only just getting started.
Ten years after She Moves In Her Own Way was nominated for a BRIT Award and 18 months since their last UK tour, the Brighton-bred band are re-finding their place in the indie rock scene. Taking to the stage at London’s Alexandra Palace, you’d think they never lost their footing. A sold-out crowd relishes in the joys of simply being there – able to witness a band who by all accounts have secured themselves as one of the most adored British bands of the early 2000’s. “I know, you’re here for the hits” front-man Luke Pritchard acknowledges. He understands the game. Just how many ‘hits’ they have? Well, now that’s debatable.
A dramatic curtain drop starts the evening as the band open with their first ever single, Eddie’s Gun. What follows is a trip down memory lane, as they make their way through songs from their 4 LPs. The audience ranges from tweens to middle-aged adults, emphasizing The Kooks’ continued influence. Even ten years in they are still converting new fans and holding onto old ones. A heartfelt sing-along to Sussex-inspired track Seaside is a highlight of the set, despite being one of the shortest. The length of many of their songs is noticeable throughout the show, but allows for a massive 25 song set list. Even a couple of new tracks get their moment.
The energy is high from the get-go with a polished and upbeat performance from the four-piece. In fact, they’ve undoubtedly never sounded better. There is something wonderfully positive about The Kooks; just a group of friends playing to a legion of fans who have supported them through the ups and downs of their success. Even those who came for the hits likely had the time of their lives during the rest.
“This is our last song but as is common on this side of the world, we may come back for an encore”, Pritchard announces as they close with the title track of their 2011 album Junk Of The Heart. A reappearance is imminent, as they leave the stage without touching Naive, perhaps their most successful song. Returning to play three more songs, Around Town, Shine On and of course Naive, the crowd roars in delight. Understandably it is the latter that ignites the strongest reaction of the evening.
Ten years in and The Kooks are at their finest. It may be a ‘Best Of…’ tour but perhaps they’ve got even bigger things to come. With some upcoming festival slots and a massive arena tour scheduled for the end of 2017, it doesn’t seem like they are about to slow down any time soon. Deservedly so.
Photo by Scarlett Hollands