It’s easy to question how much of an impact The Kooks have yet to make on the music scene- with album number three’s relatively stale reception, and a period of silence since the album’s release, it may be news to some that the band are still together.
Kicking things of with debut album classic, ‘Eddie’s Gun’, it’s a strong start for the band. It’s no surprise that old favourites ‘Naïve’, ‘Seaside’, ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’ go down a treat with the enormous number of fans here- it is physically impossible to squeeze into the tent for late-comers- but the real question is whether or not The Kooks’ new material is strong enough to contend with the rest of the set.
‘Around Town’ is the first new tune to be played; first impressions are not good. A relatively bland chorus repeating the refrain “when the chips are down” perhaps one too many times, feels like a lazy attempt at a dancier direction but struggles to sound like a current, relevant song and fails to stand out. Despite this shaky start, ‘Bad Habits’ is a clever, catchy number with intelligent vocal layering and works nicely as an audience participation opportunity. In other new material, The Kooks take a leaf out of Arctic Monkeys’ book, opting for jiggy bass lines and irresistible beats. It’s a definite progression but still feels diluted in comparison to the early tracks, this is probably to be expected from most bands on their fourth record, but is disappointing nonetheless. Unusually the Brighton six-piece choose to end on a brand new song- a bold decision and one that fails to impress; an Inside In, Inside Outsong would have been a far stronger send-off than one none of the audience are familiar with.
The Kooks are sounding on top form and have some impressive new material, however nostalgia is most probably the key factor alluring this impressive turn out as it is clear which tunes have the most impact. It’s a difficult call to predict how big a splash Listen will create upon its release.