As a well-established indie/rock band, The Kooks have certainly learned how to entertain a crowd over the years that they have spent in the limelight. On the third night of their UK tour at Manchester Academy One on November 8th, they played to a sold out room filled with 2,600 people and were obviously thriving after returning to their home turf. The moment that lead singer Luke Pritchard placed his foot on the furthest edge of the stage, the crowd descended into complete madness. The band possesses the ability to make thousands of people scream in disbelief and adoration at just the sight of the bassist’s leg; a quality that cannot be taught, it is earned.
The Kooks began by playing the new hit, “Around Town,” from their most recent album, Listen. This was incredibly well received by the crowd, with every single person screaming each word back towards the stage. It was an amazing way to begin the show, with such high levels of energy already circulating around the room. They followed this with “See The World” and “Ooh La;” these blasts from the past were proving to be very popular with the audience, many of whom had probably been following the band for a number of years. Both of these songs were from the Inside In/Inside Out album, which was the debut album for The Kooks, released in January of 2006. This was a very successful album, selling over two million copies worldwide since its release. It transpired that when the songs are played live, they are even greater.
“Bad Habit” and “She Moves In Her Own Way” were both amazingly performed, with Luke’s showmanship becoming increasingly admirable; the ability of his dancing managed to match the quality of his singing. While these songs were being performed, it could have been said that the crowd were getting a little bit too over-excited, with moshpits and shoving everywhere you looked. It is a shame that for such a tame, intimate band, people’s actions had to alter the atmosphere of the concert. It went from enjoyable and comfortable to a scene in which people did not feel safe to enjoy themselves. Despite this obvious shift in mood, natural order was restored the moment Luke Pritchard plucked the first chords to “Junk Of The Heart (Happy),” which was undoubtedly the most well executed and best performed song of the evening. They couldn’t have found a better way to exit before their encore.
The special intimate moment of the encore came when Luke carefully put down his guitar and walked over to a keyboard to play “See Me Now” to row after row of adoring fans. This was the song of the night that allowed him to demonstrate his vocal range and ability, along with showing his musical ability when he strays to instruments other than the guitar. The final song of the night was, of course, the highly anticipated global hit single, “Naïve,” which continues to be their most popular song, certainly known word-for-word backwards by every person in the room. Despite this being their best-known song, it was a bit of an anti-climax for the end of their set list. This song was not performed as well as the other songs, and all four members of the band looked and sounded bored; as if they had performed the same chords so many times that they just wanted to get through the song. Compared to the joy they seemed to be experiencing when singing and dancing to the other songs, it was all lost for this final rendition of their best-known classic.