They’re a fun sort of band The Kooks are. Credit has to be given to a band whose lead singer can kick Arctic Monkeys equivalent Alex Turner in the face “after he tried to pull the leads out of my guitar pedals while we were on stage.”
They do come across as being a bunch of annoying little kids playing at being rock stars, but after their debut album put four songs, You Don’t Love Me, Naïve, She Moves Her Own Way and Ooh La in the British Top 20, this is anything but a game for the boys from Brighton with a sound that’s would not have looked out of place in the 1960s Britpop movement. The comparisons with The Kinks, in particular, are very much justified, but this time done with those nasal whiny indie vocals that really need to go out of fashion. They’ve also been compared, usually in an unfavourable light, to the band whose vocalist received a foot in the face for lead tampering. It’s not exactly the Beatles v The Stones, or even Blur v Oasis, but it’s nevertheless a feud that has ultimately served The Kooks well in terms of free publicity.
They have such a basic sound that it’s surprising they’ve done so well commercially. And that’s not meant in a bad way. In this technified day and age it’s nice to see that there are still some young folks who can appreciate decent songs without all the manufactured trimmings. Anf The Kooks should be thanked for reminding young people what raw music is all about. Good on ’em.
Luke Pritchard said of their second album that “I want our singles to come on the radio and for people to literally have their heads blown off.” Never was there a better example of misuse of the word ‘literally’ but although no bonces were splattered, it did indeed spawn their biggest hit yet, Always Where I Need to Be. Again a great little song, but not the kind of thing you’d normally expect to get to number three in the UK charts. And that too is meant in a good way.
They brought out their third album, Junk of the Heart, last year, and considering how well the first two went down, and the strength of the excellent lead single, Is It Me?, arguably their strongest yet, the critical and commercial response suggest people aren’t as interested in The Kooks as they were a few years ago. Maybe the band hasn’t really gone anywhere with their music, but when you play simple guitar based pop-rock, going anywhere would mean not playing simple guitar based pop-rock, and that’s what The Kooks do. And do quite well. They cheer people up, and that’s never a bad thing.
In their first appearance in Spain for four years, they went down extremely well at La Riviera in Madrid and Razzmatazz in Barcelona last October, even though there are so many Spanish bands that do this kind of thing as well as and even better than they do. They’re back this year, and Kooks fans that were miffed that their only appearance was going to be at a festival can be recompensed by the fact that they have since added another date in Madrid. And it’s free, with Emeli Sandé thrown into the bargain as well. Can’t argue with that.
Did you know: Many have wondered how it is that Luke Pritchard sings with a northern accent if he’s from Brighton. The answer is that he puts it on. I think.
Tuesday March 20, 2012 Madrid El Coral de la Pacheca FREE CONCERT
1. Always Where I Need to Be
2. Is It Me
3. Sofa Song
4. Down to the Market
6. She Moves in Her Own Way
9. Stormy Weather
10. If Only
12. Tick of Time
13. How’d You Like That
14. Ooh La
15. Do You Wanna
Encore: 16. The Saboteur
17. Junk of the Heart (Happy)