words by Katie Wighton // photos by Sean Kirkwood @seankirkwoodphotography
“Then it comes to one of the many moments which have the crowd singing their songs louder than the band itself.”
What a terrific way to kick off this stellar month of reviewing I have up my sleeve. A visit to Melbourne's famed Festival Hall to see The Kooks kick off the Australian leg of their 2019 touring circuit. But first, Sloan Peterson.
I must admit I mixed up my times and only caught the last few songs of Peterson's but they were bloody good ones. She and her band fill the room with their own brand of pop-rock and Sloan seems completely in control. Her bassist takes a solo (did I stutter?) and she says “Yeah Jesse!” - signifying just how relaxed she is on the stage. The band is tight, the lead guitarist following her melody lines seamlessly. I found it quite hard to understand the words though which is a bummer because I reckon Sloan Peterson has got some cool shit to say.
With only one support (which is sometimes bloody terrific if you're a nanna like me and enjoy an early night) this takes us pretty much straight into The Kooks' set. The pre-show house music is sensational – whoever makes that playlist should be given a raise – and we're all pretty pumped for Luke and the gang to come out. Side note: I asked for a chair (see above nanna status) and got given a whole entire section to myself to sit in. The perks of being a reviewer! Not interesting but true.
So I will say up front that my desire to go to this show was more to do with nostalgia than any really strong knowledge of the band's more recent repertoire – with the notable exception of No Pressure from their latest album. But I wasn't disappointed. These kids have some HITS eh?! Boys can write a song. When Luke Pritchard takes to the stage the crowd goes crazy. He puts his hand to his ear and they go even crazier. The opening number is awash with drum fills and electric guitars. Ahh early 2000s Brit-rock has SUCH a sound! And it's preeeetty much their sound. Pritchard's voice is iconic.
He's wearing a sick gold jacket which I really rate and the spotlight can't keep up with Luke as he dances around the stage to the sounds of the crowd singing along and cheering whenever the opportunity arises. He screams his way out of the second song and they get straight into the next - his voice changing gears easily from yelly-rock to a melodious dream.
They play All The Time from their most recent album Let's Go Sunshine. My favourite lyrics of the night are in this song. “I want you to be there all the time. I want you to be there when I die.” Morbid but cute AF.
Then it comes to one of the many moments which have the crowd singing their songs louder than the band itself. Luke says to the crowd “Feel free to lose your shit for this one.” and lose their shit they do. They smash out She Moves in Her Own Way and to be honest I can barely hear Luke sing over the crowd. These folks LOVE this band.
Special mention goes to the drummer Alexis Nunez, who, when asked by Pritchard how he was simply replied “Hot.” Amen, mate. You Brits were not made for the brutality of a Melbourne summer. Nevertheless he smashes out a SICK beat for Sweet Emotion – even getting onboard with some amazing harmonies. At one point in the night Nunez sings so high (and on his own, might I add) that I think perhaps his head might pop right off. Thankfully it doesn't and we are allowed to continue enjoying his high-energy, incredibly watchable drumming.
The hits keep on coming with Ooh La and the crowd still hasn't had enough. Luke thanks them for lending such enthusiastic support to the new songs and says “You made every second of that 24-hour flight worth it.” which of course, they go insane for.
It's no surprise that The Kooks' adoring fans scored a pretty excellent encore starting out with No Pressure. With such a catchy melody and fun sentiment, this tune is easy for pretty much anyone to catch on to and I'm almost certain that the audience's voices can be heard echoing throughout the whole of Melbourne tonight. The Kooks end their set with Something So Beautiful and I have a sneaky suspicion that's exactly what the crowd tonight have witnessed.