The Kooks at The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 18th January 2018
Sheltering from the freezing temperatures outside, a sold-out Olympia Theatre awaits The Kooks as they bring their own brand of indie-pop to Dublin, playing their first of three shows. It’s hard to know what to expect – the band haven’t released an album since 2014’s ‘Listen’ – from the ‘Best Of… So Far’ tour in celebration of their 10-year anniversary (do you feel old yet?).
The assumption is that the audience will be composed of a lot of drunken late-twenty-year-olds, swinging their drinks in the air and swaying (out of time) to the soundtrack of their adolescent years. However, the first surprise of the evening comes on entering the venue; the queue at the front door includes a group of young teenage girls, dressed in attire worthy of a Justin Bieber concert. There are more of them inside the venue, clad in white jeans and crop tops, iPhone 7s in hand. As the room begins to fill, the diversity of the crowd is evident; groups of teenagers juxtapose older couples.
Support act The Vryll Society are a disappointing start to the night, with an uninspiring front man and even less-inspiring songs. Failure to engage the audience leaves the audience paying more attention to the bar than the stage. The end of their set is sounded by an unusually long, anti-climatic instrumental (and an audible sigh of relief from the audience) while the front man walks off the stage. It’s the type of exit that few bands can pull off, and The Vryll Society are not one of those bands.
By the time the lights dim in preparation for The Kooks’ entrance, the room has filled up and the audience are hungry for some nostalgia. The band walk onto the stage to an eruption of applause and waste no time greeting the crowd before launching into the first song. An impressive light show accompanies the music, accentuating the choruses and subduing the softer sections.
Front-man Luke Pritchard dons a flamboyant spotted shirt, while the other members are dressed appropriately in leather and fedora hats. It’s hard to believe that the band haven’t toured in years; the set is tight and polished. Pritchard is a charismatic front-man, he has the ability to mould the tone of the audience any way that he pleases. He saunters around the stage confidently, encouraging the crowd to sing along to the vocal melodies. The songs are riff driven, energy charged.
As is the nature with a ‘Best Of’ tour, the set is full of The Kooks’ hits including Ooh La, Always Where I Need To Be and Be Who You Are. While the crowd are fervent (as expected), they are respectful and quieten down for the few slower ballads in the set such as See Me Now, a song written about the death of Pritchard’s father.
After a deceitful farewell, the band exit the stage only to answer the audience’s cry for an encore moments later. On their return, they perform their three biggest hits: Seaside; Junk Of The Heart, and Naive. As the final chord of Naive rings out, the room explodes into a caucophony of applause.
It was clear from the variation of people that exited The Kooks’ show in The Olympia that a classic indie-pop sound can indeed transcend generations, and bring them together. After 10 years in the game, The Kooks have undoubtedly still got it.