This isn't the first time that The Kooks have played at Plymouth Pavilions, I am struggling to locate the exact number of appearances but I imagine it would have been sometime during the release of their debut album Inside In/Inside Out back in 2006. We were invited to come along and catch the show, I was keen to see how their material had weathered over the past 11 years and whether they still had what it takes to put on a great show....
For anyone who isn't aware of The Kooks, here's a quick history lesson....
The Kooks are an English pop-rock band formed in 2004 in Brighton. The band currently consists of Luke Pritchard (vocals/rhythm guitar), Hugh Harris (lead guitar/synth), Alexis Nunez (drums), and Peter Denton (bass guitar). The original bassist was Max Rafferty, and the founding drummer was Paul Garred. The lineup of the band remained constant until the departure of Rafferty in 2008. Dan Logan served as a temporary replacement, until Peter Denton joined the band permanently in October 2008. Early in 2010, Pritchard announced the departure of drummer Paul Garred, due to a nerve problem in his arm. Late in the year, Garred rejoined for studio sessions, however Chris Prendergast played drums when the band played live. Garred finally left in November 2011 after the release of their third album, Junk of the Heart. In 2012, the band was accompanied on drums by Robden Alexis Nunez (from Golden Silvers), who eventually joined the band full-time.
To date, they have released 4 studio albums as follows;
So there you go, a little bit of history for anyone who wasn't in the know! Back to the Plymouth show.....
Five piece Brighton indie pop band Fickle Friends bought their lush blend of upbeat electro-pop with them to Plymouth. Seeing them on a large stage was great, the last time I caught them live was upstairs at the Exeter Phoenix in a dance studio, so it was refreshing to see them with the space to spread their wings a little more. All of the band looked like they were having a great time on stage and really engage well together to put on a great show. Tonight was the 4th show supporting The Kooks and speaking To Natty (Vocalist), she made a point of saying that they are having the time of their lives and The Kooks are the nicest people who make sure that we're looked after.
Their range of songs spanned their career to date, highlights for me included "Brooklyn", "Cry Baby" and their latest offering "Hello Hello" which all did a great job of keeping the capacity audience engaged throughout their set, something other bands really find hard to do.
They conversed well with the predominantly younger audience really well, the invitation to upload pics of them playing live to their Instagram account was received with a massive cheer and judging by the amount of pics received, I think it would have been a tough call to choose a winner!
They hope to be back in Plymouth later on this year as part of their own UK tour but not at Plymouth Pavilions but judging by the amount of primetime airplay they're receiving from some Radio 1 heavyweights, I'll wager good money that it won't be too long until they are headlining here....you heard it here first!
After a short break, a white sheet fell from the rigging, blocking the view onstage. The group assembled behind it and upon kicking into the first song, it fell down, covering Luke's microphone in the process, not exactly an epic fail but good to see that even their stage crew has an off night now and then as well!
I managed to get a sneaky peek at the setlist ahead of the show and it was great to see a mix of songs from their back catalogue as well as newer material, which, whilst not as well loved as their original material I am sure would still manage to win over the excitable young crowd who were hanging onto the railings at the front.
They played a new version of "Rosy" with just piano backing which sounded tremendous, stripped back with just Luke's voice and gently distorted guitar to accompany. The bass and drums came in midway through really finishing the track off with a richer, fuller sound.
Luke did the talking in-between songs, he was very appreciative, thanking the room for coming to see them and making this one the most popular tours they had embarked upon since the early days some 11 years ago. "See Me Now" saw Luke ditch the guitar and take to the keys, obviously a very personal track as he dedicated it to a loved one and anyone else who had lost someone. This was a truly beautiful moment where he really connected with the room.
"Matchbox" took us way back to their debut once again, whilst not the one that people were waiting for (tat would come near the end!) but did a great job of getting the crowd roused once again from the hiatus of bouncy tracks midway through the set. The track seemed to lose it's way with the guitar solo in the middle but soon revved back up again, energising the crowd who leapt and bounced for the remainder.
"Broken Vow" is a new song, which sounded very polished with its thumping bass and drums that resonated through you like a heartbeat, a slower groove to it but deep, meaningful music and a great guitar line which will stay with you for a long time.
"Any requests?", teased Luke, wishing he hadn't! It was a toss up between "Seaside" or "Jackie Big Tits", I was hoping for the former, what they delivered was the latter, I was a little disappointed as "Seaside" has always been a favourite of mine from the debut album, hey ho, you can't win them all I guess! They redeemed themselves shortly afterwards as they then burst into "Seaside" which pleased me and 3999 other punters no end!
They ended the first set with "Junk of the Heart", people looked around, disappointed that their most popular track hadn't been played though Luke did make a point of mentioning that encores "are quite a big thing down these parts", so fingers crossed for a few more tracks!
They exited the stage to deafening levels of applause, shortly followed by shouts and the stamping of feet filling the air for the couple of minutes that it took them to return to the stage for the final three tracks.
"Around Town" kicked off the encore, another bass/drum heavy slab of polished pop rock, could I hear a steel drum in the background?, it was hard to tell as the sound does have a tendency to bounce all over the shop at the venue. Whatever it was, it sounded good.
"Shine On" was up next, lifted from their 2008 offering KONK, this was well received and reminded me of the direction they took after their debut, becoming a little less mainstream but equally as catchy. SURELY the next track was the one.....
.....It was! Huzzah! They kicked into the opening bars of "Naive" and, as expected, they took the roof off the place! Come the end of the song, they all came together for a group bow and exited to huge applause from the capacity crowd.
I exited to the merchandise area where Fickle Friends were stood, meeting their fans, posing for selfies and signing ticket stubs and just about everything else people could scrabble together for them! I don't know what it is about these guys, but I'll say it now, I think they're gonna be HUGE!
Review and Photos by Steve Muscutt