The Kooks

support Johnny Lloyd
author HES date 19/06/14 venue Store Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

The Kooks? Do they even still exist? They're playing in Denmark? It's that band with that song.. you know that song, right?

Yeah The Kooks were big right around 2006 when they released their much loved and very successful "Inside In/Inside Out", made us all dance to "Oh Lah" and "Sofa Song", and it was followed up by the amazingly brilliant "Konk". Then nothing was heard of the band for several years and the album "Junk of the Heart" from 2011 was released with very little hype. While other bands of the 00's British Invasion like Libertines, Razorlight and Babyshambles, this band amazingly managed to stick together in spite of the curse that seemed to haunt this evoke in British music. Since the release of "Junk of the Heart" the band has been touring and tonight it's Denmark's turn to be rattled a bit by songs we were listening to in our teens.

All photos courtesy of Stefan Frank thor Straten / thorstraten.eu

Johnny Lloyd

Johnny Lloyd strikes me as one of those singer/songwriters that have not yet found their tone exactly. The setup is Lloyd and a mate on guitar singing well-written pop-songs with a slight electric sound to his guitar. The curse of Vega hosting bands that have been played on the radio is that no matter how interesting the warm up is, people will talk during the entire gig. I am still to understand how this disrespect can happen amongst grown-up people and even though I gently try to ask people around me to tone it down, it is obvious that it's Thursday also known as "Little Friday" in Denmark and people are already way too intoxicated to keep their mouth shut.

In spite of all of this, Lloyd seems to grab the attention of the not-even-close to sold out room or at least the middle of the crowd, where party ensures in spite of songs like "Happy People" and "Pilgrims" actually being too quiet for it really. Overall Lloyd manages to grab half the attention of the room during the 25 minute warm up, but nothing impressive is really going down until the main act hits the stage.

The Kooks

Now you'd think that after 8 years of playing front man Luke Pritchard would look a bit older and worn, but the guy is still channelling the lively kid we loved in the 00's with his curly hair and energetic attitude. The first song, which is a new song from the band's yet to be released album "Listen", starts out as a capella but ends up in pleasantly danceable indie with a throbbing bass line. Pritchard is dancing around the stage, engaging all parts of his audience, giving 110% during the new songs in recognition of the fact that none of us know the words to them. The set then moves into the better known songs like "Always Where I Need To Be" and "She Moves In Her Own Way". In between the band plays the only "boring" song of the night "It Was London" but soon picks up with a beautiful acoustic rendition of "Seaside" cleverly followed by "Westside". On the newer tracks the sound becomes a bit too 80s for me, but makes the music very welcoming to another dance in which most parts of the venue joins in.

Some of the more intricate parts of The Kooks song-writing are a bit lost in translation like the transition from major to minor in "You Don't Love Me"; some of the melodies disappear a bit in the bass. It actually helps when Hugh Harris on lead guitar switches places from behind the synth with bassist Peter Denton. The freedom of the open stage lets Harris' guitar lift the soundscape up more and the melodic lines become more apparent. The general switches in the sets between guitars and instruments are very impressive. At one point Pritchard is handed a guitar only to play a solo and then puts it back down for the chorus. Although he is obviously also a talented guitarist, his focus is a bit thwarted by having to do more than one thing at a time and the larger than life-attitude is put on hold for a second.

This larger than life attitude is not only supported by Pritchard's own way of acting out on stage, but the lyrics too add this layer of reckless attitude when he sings stuff like "You say you wan't someone to love you, but that ain't me". Among other stage tricks, Pritchard uses a lot of soul/preacher classics like call and response. He gets the room geared up by a swing of the hand. By the end of the set we're blasted by a cavalcade of hits like "Sofa Song", the sexy "Do You Wanna", the uplifting "Junk Of the Heart (Happy)" and lastly, the most anticipated song "Naive".

Although the set has some foot faults and doesn't always have the best of sound, The Kooks manage to prove to me that their release in September is worth the wait. This band is obviously not done yet and it's really life-affirming to see that not all of the Brit-rock bands of the 00's have drowned in coke and break ups - yet. A solid performance riddled with good spirit!

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