The Kooks at The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 27th February 2015
It’s nine years since the Kooks released their debut album ‘Inside In/Inside Out’. It’s on the strength of this album and its singles that almost a decade later the band can still manage to (almost) sell out two nights at the Olympia. Their performance on Friday night proved that while the songs from their debut album sound as fresh as ever, little of what the band has done since has matched it. That said, despite diminishing returns there are some redeeming features to their new material that might spur those that came for nostalgia’s sake to reacquaint themselves with the band.
Opening with Around Town, a track drawn from their latest album ‘Listen’, it’s clear that the band have changed style since their breakthrough in ’06. The indie element of the indie-pop formula they made their name on has been ditched with a more electro tinged sound in its place. Is this the sign of a band desperately latching onto what’s now cool or should their bravery for changing their sound up be applauded? It’s certainly debatable. What’s not debatable is that this song doesn’t stand up to their earlier work. It’s not helped that it’s followed by See The World and Ooh La, two excellent songs drawn from their debut. The reaction to the new and old material show that the majority of the crowd have come for the latter.
To the band’s credit, they don’t sleep walk through the newer material with songs like Bad Habit spurring the crowd on with a call and answer chorus. Much of the credit should go to lead singer Luke Pritchard who does his best to sell their new sound to the crowd. Looking every inch the rock star he really is a very fine front man. Great stage presence and a leather jacket that probably cost more than most people earn in a month can’t hide the fact that It Was London sounds far too much like Maroon 5. While never the most cutting edge of bands, the fact is that their audience are now ten years older and expect more than a generic pop song.
In spite of the weakness of some of the newer songs, this is still a good gig. Always Where I Need To Be sounds fantastic and proves that the band were still writing good songs even after their debut. She Moves In Her Own Way, the song that launched their career is one of the night’s biggest crowd pleasers, an amazingly catchy slice of indie pop.
The stripped back and emotional See Me Now consisting of just piano and vocals shows a more mature side to the band and really catches the crowd’s attention. It’s Naïve, the bands biggest single and final song that closes out the night. Its age old combination of simple lyrics and a catchy hook appease those who came in search of nostalgia and will remain this band’s biggest draw for years to come.