The Kooks @ Liverpool Olympia
The release of The Kooks‘ debut album Inside In/Inside Out in 2006 was, for me, the door to a whole new genre of music that I’d never really heard before. When you’re 9 years old and all your friends are listening to Girls Aloud, it’s hard to believe that any other sort of music exists, but somehow my best friend at the time and I discovered this brand-new up-and-coming band, and we were obsessed. I probably wouldn’t love music as much as I do if it weren’t for The Kooks, so despite having seen them twice before, I still couldn’t contain my excitement in the moments before they took to the stage at the Olympia earlier this month.
The band kicked off the Liverpool date of their Best Of… So Far tour in the best possible way – their debut single Eddie’s Gun. For me, hearing tracks like that, and other classic tunes like You Don’t Love Me and (my personal favourite) Sofa Song, was like being a little kid again, and mixing them with funkier, more recent tracks from 2014 album Listen simply served to show the versatility of the Brighton four-piece. It wasn’t long before every single person, myself on the balcony included, were on their feet, with pits opening up all over the place and the entire room screaming the lyrics word-perfectly. For a band who have been around for over a decade, fans of The Kooks are as dedicated and enthusiastic as they always have been – definitive proof that with every album, they just keep getting better and better.
Brand new single Be Who You Are was every bit as well-received as scuzzy indie classic See The World and the uber-cool Forgive and Forget. Bassist Peter recently told Ellipsis that Be Who You Are comes full circle and is the most similar to tracks from Inside In/Inside Out. With its sunny-day vibes and feel-good lyrics, and the fact that the crowds were entirely unwavering, despite it not yet being a classic, Be Who You Are just goes to show how everything The Kooks appear to touch turns to gold. Sitting down at a keyboard, frontman Luke Pritchard slowed things down a bit by performing a stripped-back new version of 2012 Junk of the Heart single Rosie, alongside the beautiful See Me Now, dedicated to his dad, who died when he was a child. The combination of heartbreaking lyrics and Luke’s raw, stripped-back vocals meant there was barely a dry eye in the entire place.
The Kooks fizzed their way through track after brilliant track from all four incredible albums, from the almost gospel-sounding Sweet Emotion to arguably the cheeriest song in the world, Junk of the Heart (Happy). It’s actually amazing what this band can do – acoustic beauty Seaside is miles away from the pure, unadulterated carnage of Always Where I Need To Be, which in turn sounds nothing like the undying groove of Westside, and that’s the beauty of them. Everything is so different, and yet so undeniably Kooks; people just don’t seem to want to ever stop loving them.
Around Town and Shine On led up to the moment everybody had been waiting for when the band played their last song of the night – the ever-brilliant Naive. When you think of The Kooks, you think of this song, and there was nothing quite like the complete and utter joy that filled the room the minute those oh-so-familiar opening chords were played. Put your arms around your mates, get on someone’s shoulders, wave your drinks in the air, The Kooks are doing exactly what they do best. See Me Now aside, there’s nothing really that emotional about The Kooks’ music, and yet, watching those four guys having the time of their lives on stage and bringing so much happiness to a room full of semi-drunk people in Liverpool on a Saturday night, I felt myself welling up. Naive sounds like being nine again, like going ice skating with my best friend, and listening to Inside In/Inside Out on the way back from Brownies, and never really being too sure of the lyrics so making up our own. I’m sure that feeling is shared with people all over, and it’s one of the reasons that The Kooks will never die – people just love them too much.
Thank you, The Kooks, for being my doorway into a world of music without which I probably wouldn’t be the same person I am today. Be Who You Are is brilliant, the new Best Of… So Far album is out on the 19th May – and I can’t wait to go to Sound City and relive the whole gig again!