Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Tuesday 26 July, 2016 :
She is furious but fragile. Exalted but precise. Her passion is accurate. Alison Mosshart paces across the stage of Sydney’s Enmore Theatre as a lioness in a cage whilst deep beats of ‘No Wow’ thunder through the dim hall. She looks over the audience with a subtle grasping smile. Fans in the first row shake the barrier in bewildered anticipation. It’s been 5 years since The Kills last played in Australia, and this is their third and final show following sets at Splendour in the Grass and Melbourne’s Forum Theatre last week. The band’s grandiose backdrop with swirls and palm trees provides us with a bit of LA vibe, just like it’s meant to.
Once intro music reaches climax Alison starts dancing with a microphone stand, effortlessly hitting all the right notes with her powerful voice. Jamie Hince, standing on the left, accompanies music cacophony with heavy and dirty guitar sounds. Among older hits the band performs new songs from their freshly released album Ash & Ice which took them 5 years to record, both due to Alison’s involvement with The Dead Weather and Jamie’s six hand surgeries following unfortunate car door accident.
I am also photographing the show so for me this is not just about the music. It’s not just about the photos, either, but I can’t help being mesmerised by how photogenic my subjects are – so dynamic and full of grace that the only challenge I face with this shoot is to be fast enough to capture all the crucial moments. I also struggle not to sing along as I walk back and forth through the pit, trying to synchronise my movement with Alison’s chaotic dancing. She is so energetic that the following day’s news that she actually played this show with a 39 degrees fever came as a surprise.
Once done with the shoot I retreat into the crowd and try to suppress my urge to keep taking mental photographs of what’s happening on stage, fighting my usual anxiety – “It’s not happening if I’m not shooting it”. Alison leans onto a fan on the right side of the stage and keeps dancing with her faded red hair and silk shirt flowing in in the air. She seems exhausted but too full of adrenalin to stop moving even for a second, shaking in excitement between the songs as she reaches for her faithful dancing partner – the mic stand. Speaking of dancing, watching her swing and spin on those high platform black shoes is nothing short of spectacular.
Half-way into the show someone throws a red cup on stage, and this is when Jamie gets a chance to show his British gentleman’s manners, telling that anonymous person off for aiming at the lady and promising to deal with the offender later.
Lucky Sydney audience gets less regular song ‘DNA’ which is thrown into a set for a change. “Dance, dance, dance if you’ve got no love around you…“. As the band proceeds to melancholic ‘Echo Home’ I catch Alison’s eyes for a few seconds and this brings me to the main point of this review: I sympathise with all of her lyrics. I stand by her in joy and sorrow. I kept listening to the same 70 songs on three continents, wandering with a heavy heart and finding relief in the band’s kindred energy. When I watch this beautiful and talented woman it’s so hard to comprehend why her songs are often oozing with anger and desperation. To quote The Dead Weather’s lyrics, “One day I’m happy and healthy, next day ain’t doing so well“. This bipolar artistic nature is reflected in The Kills songs as well, however flavored with more cheerful and upbeat tunes that can still be all about heartache and love anxiety though. As I hear my own feelings and thoughts repeated in her voice I receive much needed support so many music fans seek in their favourite bands. As if with her songs Alison proves it’s alright to be needy for love and end up looking even more stunning instead of looking pitiful. On the contrary to what most psychological articles say.
“Won’t move over, won’t get gone…won’t move over…won’t get gone…“, screams Alison during ‘Fried My Little Brains’ before finishing their set with explosive dancing tune ‘Sour Cherry’, waving us goodbye.
Heart of a Dog
Doing it to Death
Pots and Pans
Fried my Little Brains