The 1975 and Catfish & The Bottlemen might be ruling the airwaves these days, but this isn’t the first time that commercially viable indie has been on the rise. The mid-00’s are almost notorious for being the golden age of Motorola Razrs, Alexa Cheung haircuts and, of course, the success of indie rock bands. One particularly victorious group was The Kooks, a four piece formed in Brighton in 2004 who received #2 and #1 on the UK album charts with 2006’s Inside In/Inside Out and 2008’s Konk respectfully.
Despite falling out of the limelight somewhat, The Kooks caused mass hysteria in November last year when the announced the ‘Best Of’ UK tour in celebration of not only their ten years as a band but also their upcoming greatest hits album entitled The Best Of… So Far. Kicking off in April at Manchester Academy, the tour wound around the country before finishing on May 13 at London’s iconic Alexandra Palace. No doubt excited to see an old favourite perform such a nostalgic array of tracks, fans desperately sought after tickets.
It should come as no surprise that The Kooks possess a god-like stage presence after all they have accomplished over the years. They know exactly how to cater to their crowds while also taking what they need themselves to thrive, and that was certainly clear from the very get-go when they headed out on to the Alexandra Palace stage, sound tracked by deafening screams. The setlist was a mixed bag, sporting classic cuts from the first two albums but also quite a few offerings from 2014’s Listen, and a couple from 2011’s Junk Of The Heart, which will all feature on The Best Of… So Far when it is released this week. While the main goal was no doubt to showcase the entirety of the compilation, it also served to please every fan present no matter when they found themselves discovering the band.
The crowd was most lively during what would be considered “the obvious”, when the charming pop-rockers performed early singles such as ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’, ‘Ooh La’ and ‘Always Where I Need To Be’. It was almost magical in the way it had fans reminiscing to the times they would have these very tracks downloaded on to their tiny iPod Shuffles, and they showed their appreciation by instigating a unbelievably large, blisteringly hot mosh pit.
Saving the very best for last, The Kooks played a three song encore after fans demanded they returned to the stage, which consisted of ‘Around Town’, ‘Shine On’ and the mega-hit single ‘Naïve’ which saw the evening end with an almighty bang. The Kooks are not a particularly theatrical band compared to some of their peers but their talent, material and humility is more than enough to make up for it— even when they’re playing venues bigger than they ever could’ve dreamed of.
Photos by Tom Russell