thu 06/08/2020

The Kooks, O2 Academy, Birmingham | reviews, news & interviews

The Kooks, O2 Academy, Birmingham

The Kooks, O2 Academy, Birmingham

Crowd-pleasing set from the unchallenging Brighton band

The Kooks - sticking to the middle of the road

Brighton’s guitar pop outfit, the Kooks have been churning out largely pleasant but fairly bland songs since their 2006 debut Inside In/Inside Out. Recent album Listen, however, has suggested that things might be changing. Less evident, but not entirely banished, are the unremarkable strum-alongs, with a rawer and funkier groove edging its way into a few of their tunes with some success. Similarly gone is the poodle hair and clothes that made them look like the Verve’s younger, more clean-cut cousins. When the band bounce onto the stage at Birmingham’s O2 Academy, they look like they’ve just been kitted out by a stylist.

The Kooks hit the ground running and tore straight into Listen’s opening track, “Around Town”, with its almost funky drummer-like sound. The packed crowd immediately went bonkers – alternately bouncing around energetically or thrusting their mobile phones into the air like a field of electric sunflowers. This was immediately followed by the raw, Vaccines-like “See the world”, announced by a screech of feedback which suggested that the band’s middle of the road past might have been quietly exorcised. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

For every blast of something with a bit of grit and spirit there were plenty of plodding sing-alongs

For every blast of something with a bit of grit and spirit, like new tunes “Bad Habit” and “Down” with its gnarly guitar solo, there were plenty of plodding sing-alongs like “Seaside” and “Dreams”. In particular, we were treated to “Westside” – a song which is the very antithesis of all that we’ve come to expect from rock ‘n’ roll since Elvis Presley first strapped on a guitar. In fact, its refrain of “We can settle down, we’ll start a family” suggests that light entertainment might be what the Kooks are really about because it certainly isn’t youthful rebellion. The well-mannered pleasantness of the band was also evident when “She moves in her own way” ground to a halt half-way through, so that singer Luke Pritchard could give a couple of brawlers in the audience a polite ticking off. The band then picked up exactly where they’d left off to a hearty crowd sing-along.

The Kooks’ played a set that was almost exclusively made up of tunes from Inside In/Inside Out and Listen – closing with an energetic “Forgive and Forget”. In fact, the band barely played anything at all from 2008’s Konk and 2011’s Junk of the Heart. “Junk of the Heart (happy)”, however, did make an appearance between the dreary “See me now” and the band’s signature tune “Naïve” for a sickly-sweet encore of over-done mawkishness – which was played to a twinkling sea of mobile phone lights.

On tonight’s evidence, it doesn’t look like the Kooks are going to be budging from the middle of the road anytime soon.

Light entertainment might be what the Kooks are really about because it certainly isn’t youthful rebellion

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters