The Kooks – Brighton Centre – 25th November 2017

The Kooks – Brighton Centre
Photo by Ben Walker

Back in 2006, The Kooks’ debut, Inside In/Inside Out, could easily be described as the sound of a generation. Almost every track on that record holds a special place in the hearts of many and when the band play their smash, sell out show at the Brighton Centre tonight, they’ve more than proven why they’re deserving of such a high status.

Kicking things off are DMA’s, a group who are also relishing in the limelight at the moment. Their chilled out ambience and summery vibes are divine. The Sydney group definitely have a sizeable number of audience members here for their set as chants begin to ring through the venue’s pit. The band are definitely a group who play the ‘cool’ card and, whilst there is little movement or crowd engagement during their set, their sound is so strong that it more than does them justice. Tracks such as ‘Step Up The Morphine’ and ‘Lay Down’ receive a bellowing response and have put many in a terrific mood for what is yet to follow.

The electricity is already flowing as the stage time gets closer, chants of the Brighton football anthem ricochet through the crowd. As the lights drop, the opening riff of ‘Eddie’s Gun’ unleashes utter hell onto the Centre. The entire room is bouncing, chanting and revelling in the sweetened, upbeat guitar licks. Frontman, Luke Pritchard, is spellbinding. His innate ability to hype up the crowd and perform the most dexterous of guitar work is remarkable to say the least and keeps the entire room fixated on the stunning performance.

Being a home town show, there is little to no need to ask for the audience’s approval and the room seem clung to every word. Unsurprisingly, the majority of tonight’s set is complied of tracks from Inside In/Inside Out and, despite being written over a decade ago, every song still packs as much punch as it did back then. ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’ and the simply divine ‘Matchbox’ demonstrate the pinnacles of the band’s talents from all aspects. Luke’s vocals are strong, the guitar stronger, but the bass work is especially exemplary, adding such a level of inherent funk to the evening that it’s no surprise the crowd can’t stop dancing along.

The quick addition of an acoustic session in the middle of the set does nicely break up the pacing of the evening and allowed for yet another dynamic to come forth. The slower material allowed for some nicely picked instrumentals from guitarist Hugh Harris and generated a far more intimate feeling to the sold out evening. Don’t get too comfortable, however, as the band quickly thrust back into the fully sized hits.

Tonight’s encore is all rather predictable, ‘Seaside’, ‘Around Town’ and of course, ‘Naive’. Luke playfully incorporates these with, “I think we might have missed a few!” All three songs receive easily (and understandably) the largest response of the evening, as the crowd easily dwarf the quiet vocals of ‘Seaside’. Meanwhile, the anthem that is ’Naive’ makes for possibly the rowdiest moment of any gig I’ve seen this year, as the entire room of almost 5,000 people are jumping and chanting along in unison.

In short, The Kooks are a breathtaking band. They have skilfully mastered the divine formula of short and sweet songs which have stood the test of time. The slick, tropical melodies are easily capable of bringing a smile to anyone and are what ‘indie’ music is all about. The entire band look like they’ve had a great time playing tonight and the crowd certainly look the same, the warming atmosphere created tonight has shown how much of a dedicated community one album can build and has solidified The Kooks as the Brightonian icons they are.

Ben Walker