Leeds O2: Tuesday 25th April.
On a freezing Leeds evening – yes, folks we were subject to April showers of hail, sleet and snow – the heat of the O2 Academy in Leeds provided the perfect space to get warmed up. And get warmed up we did.
Kicking off with Liverpool’s indie rockers Clean Cut Kid (lead singer and bassist excepting) the crowd were defrosted by a pumping and precise performance that would quite rightly warm the cockles of all persons present. Somewhere between the Magic Numbers, Kings of Leon and the Levellers with a hint of hipsters, Clean Cut Kid held their own and the crowd’s affections with confidence and quality.
And then fell the cool, ice coloured curtain courtesy of the Kooks. Serving as a crowd enticer to shroud us from the heat of what was to follow, (plastic) glasses were quickly replenished, second layers removed in eager anticipation of the inevitable mosh and then… they appeared. The Kooks have weathered well and so have their hits. This 10th anniversary tour – The Best Of…So Far – has got off to a great start. Two starter gigs sold out in two hours and plenty following suit in a tour schedule that travels the country as well as taking in venues in France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Luke Pritchard is fuelled and fired. His stage presence flirts with Jagger and many of the crowd openly flirt with him. Sitting on shoulders is the order of the day, an indicator of a new generation of fans to complement the stalwarts who have been there from the start. The predictable sea of i-phones throughout the gig provides another example of how times have changed but the tunes and energy of the Kooks remain as high and infectious as they did when first released. Hits, B-sides, acoustic numbers (including the quite excellent Seaside) keep the crowd constantly and consistently entertained with new numbers demonstrating these Brighton boys (ahem, now men) have lost none of their skill in song-writing, beat, pace and the art of creating a catchy hit.
The elephant in the room finally departs with the last number of the final encore – a rousing and quite frankly, brilliant rendition of Naive. Pritchard proves gracious in his thanks to the crowd. He’s repaid with chants of ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire’ (the Leeds collective of appreciation) which undoubtedly pleases all – not least local lad Peter Denton who’s been the bassist in the band since 2008.
If you fancy a night of pop filled fun, beat pounding nostalgia with a topping of future flavour, I’ll wager you’ll have no regrets from spending a night with The Kooks.