There’s a certain innocence to Kooks frontman Luke Pritchard – a glimmer in his eye, a youthful spring in his step – that hasn’t faded after all these years. As he pranced across the stage on Saturday night, his dark brown curls as full as ever, it was easy to forget that we weren’t looking at the fresh-faced teenager of Inside In/Inside Out days – not even counting the tight black leather jacket and eyeball-patterned skinny jeans.
Four albums and nearly a decade later, The Kooks are still going strong on the live circuit, and based on the sold-out crowd packed into the maybe-too-small Paradise, the band’s relevance doesn’t seem to be in any kind of jeopardy. The Brit rockers are set to release their new LP Listen in September, which will mark the next installment in their catalog of catchy, upbeat pop-rock. The new tracks are more hip-hop and R&B influenced than ever, no doubt stemming from the involvement of producer Inflo. Departure from the classic Kooks sound or not, however, it hasn’t stopped girls from dragging along their boyfriends to see Luke and crew in the flesh.
For better or for worse, it was everything you’d expect out of a Kooks show on Saturday: perky guitar melodies, crowd sing-and-clap-alongs, a mid-set solo performance of “Seaside” under blue lighting, and that song you haven’t heard in ages but somehow still know all of the lyrics to. The band hit all the sweet spots with old favorites like “Ooh La” and “Naive” but managed to test run a few new tunes, even kicking off the set with the percussive “Down.”
All parts of the band came together in equal measure to bring their signature happy-go-lucky rock to the stage. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that, live, the band might as well be called the “Lukes.” Whether grabbing the hands of audience members, twisting his arms and legs to the beat (we got what seemed like a full routine during “Westside”), or clawing at his hair as his voice rose to a falsetto, Luke was akin to a hyperactive kid that demands your full attention. And it was a good thing that the frontman’s boyish mojo carried the show; his bandmates’ subtle head bobbing didn’t even come close to turning heads.
As the Kooks get back on the road and dive into a press junket for Listen, it’s clear that this album finds them at a new time in their lives. There’s a maturity to the subject matter of some of these new songs, and they aren’t shying away from unleashing it to the masses – even if it means an awkward pause in the crowd singalong. The boys are all grown up.
- Frontman Luke Pritchard's charisma
- Healthy mix of old and new songs
- The rest of the band didn't match Luke's energy
- The songs started to sound the same after a while