The Kooks – Manchester Academy – 21/04/17

It’s incredible to believe that The Kooks’ debut record Inside in/Inside Out was released eleven years ago. The record arrived amidst a slew of similar bands determined to jump-start the Brit-Pop revolution of the 90s and although they could not claim to possess the potent social relevance of bands such as Arctic Monkeys, their first album still contained an effervescent spirit along with a bucketload of singalong singles to ensure that they were a worthy addition to this latest canon of young British bands at the time. Their journey since this release has seen plenty of ups and downs but judging by the incredible response to this current tour, which is selling out venues across the whole of Europe, they are still as relevant now as they were back in 2006.   


Helping get the party started this evening are Liverpool four-piece Clean Cut Kid. Possessing upbeat pop sensibilities on the surface, there is something significantly more complex going on and it clearly resonates with the crowd who respond with unbridled enthusiasm to their material, which is anthemic one moment and introspective the next. Frontman Mike Halls is a particularly impressive guitarist and there is an incredibly satisfying cadence to the songs that are complimented by significant bass lines and vital synths which lift the band well beyond your typical indie rock outfit.


A huge white sheet hides The Kooks from the crowd as they arrive on stage and their energetic silhouette’s enhance the sense of anticipation that has been building all evening. It drops cinematically during opener ‘Eddie’s Gun‘ and this is the perfect way to kickstart the evening. Fast, energetic and full of the youthfully brash attitude the band are famous for, it has the equally youthful audience baying for more. It’s worth pointing out that the age of the majority of the crowd this evening would barely have been in double figures when Inside in/Inside Out was released in 2006, demonstrating the durability of a good pop song as well as word of mouth, and ‘You Don’t Love Me’ and ‘Sofa Song‘, both from the debut, maintain the assured potency of the early stages of the show this evening.


A large proportion of the concert is dedicated to latest record Listen. Needless to say, this album is a definite return to form; the band have evolved and matured lyrically, vocally, thematically and musically on this record, weaving a multitude of influences into their new songs including upbeat European disco tones, reggae grooves and moments of rock and roll à la The Rolling Stones and this comes across well during ‘Bad Habit‘ and ‘Down‘ in particular. The crowd’s reaction is no less enthusiastic during these tracks, demonstrating the positive response to the band’s evolution.


The band’s maturity is demonstrated by a few songs that possess a more introspective nature and it is during these moments that the energy in the heaving Manchester Academy begins to subside slightly. The setlist is well-designed however, and these lulls are short-lived as the band return to the sure-fire hits from Inside in/Inside Out which they perform almost in its entirety, culminating in the predictably raucous rendition of ‘Naive’ that closes the evening out in style.