Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Friday January 5, 2018 :
The joyful start of 2018 for concert goers exceeded all expectations with Falls Festival sideshows. The mammoth line up included British indie darlings The Kooks, who released a greatest hits album The Best of…So Far in May 2017 and have been playing, basically, the track listing of said album to their fans across the globe, since then.
The importance of bands announcing “Greatest Hits tours” is quite overlooked it seems, but really it is a safe game to play for both the band and the promoter bringing such tours to each and every country. Because both : newly picked up fans and the old-school ones will go to those types of shows. Everyone who’s ever been into indie heart-throbs and swinging guitar bands, that brit pop spat out in the early 2000’s – they will all show up. Nostalgia is a draw card for concert goers who are now in their mid to late thirties and might not attend shows as often as younger fans, so hearing The Kooks play every single they ever released + some songs that were on Billboard’s top 100 list – is a real treat. You don’t have to set your expectations too high for such tours as, surely, the band will play all of your favourite hit songs.
Friday night at Hordern Pavilion kicked off very early and promised to wrap up before 10pm, with extra security at the venue and over the top frequency of ID checks, as the all-ages crowd filled the venue. The Belligerents took the stage, while I was still lining up to get in, so all I could catch was a few songs I heard on Triple J, including ‘Science Fiction’ – the band seemed to be highly inspired by King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard stage presence, while being quite charismatic in their own way.
It wasn’t a SOLD OUT show, but surely seemed extremely packed by the time The Kooks took the stage. Kicking things off with ‘Eddies’s Gun'(2006) followed by The Smiths inspired ‘Sofa Song’ (2006) both off their highly acclaimed debut studio album Inside In / Inside Out.
‘Be Who You Are’ (2017) was the first new song played on the night, with vocalist Luke Pritchard jumping around the stage, saluting the crowd and wearing the biggest smile, it sounded like The Kooks circa 2005 – it’s safe to say they nailed the old-school vibe.
“Hey Sydney, looking fresh! Is everyone alright?” Pritchard yelled out while the crowd cheered and went into a trance like sing-along when ‘Ooh La’ first chords resonated. Bassist Peter Denton was more energetic than usual while guitar/synth player Hugh Harris kept his signature cool, even during upbeat songs.
Once the audience went quiet Pritchard addressed the fans : “I mumble sometimes, sounds way English, but its kind of fun. Its time we quiet down a bit, I don’t want to make you all cry…but its okay if you do. I might cry too. This is a piano ballad for my late father.” Pritchard sat at the piano and played ‘See Me Now’ (2014) off the album Listen which the band toured last time they came to Australia, playing the same venue. This song is an open letter to Pritchard’s father who passed away when the singer was very young.
Set list was as expected, rich in hit songs and singles, including : ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’ (2006), ‘Matchbox’ (2006), ‘Shine On’ (2008), ‘Around Town’ (2014), ‘See The World’ (2006) and ‘Do You Wanna’ (2008).
Mid-set Pritchard started playing a B-Side, ‘Watching The Ships Roll In’ (2008), but stopped, the crowd demanded ‘Seaside’, Pritchard replied with : “Not going to play that one anymore” and played ‘Sway’ instead. The band did however ended up closing the show with ‘Seaside’ (2006) and ‘Naive’ (2006) and I can honestly say that I have never seen a more enthusiastic and thankful crowd. There were so many fans above the crowd, sitting on shoulders of other fans that it felt like one big family united by the love for The Kooks and it was kind of nice being a part of that experience.
Thank you The Kooks, never change!
Reviewer and Photographer : Annette Geneva