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Live: THE KOOKS // Festival Hall, Melbourne

2018, a fresh new year full of ambitions and resolutions were all forgotten at Melbourne’s Festival Hall with The Kooks. 

Australia’s own, The Belligerents opened the night and didn’t waste anytime pumping up the crowd with their cracking tunes aka In My Way and Science Fiction. Sporting some entertaining dance moves that are heading into my own repertoire. But after their charismatic performance it was time for the guys of the night to show us the goods.

The smoke machine got cranked up and the lights went down, a roar erupted as The Kooks entered the hall that they were going to take over and dominate for the next couple of hours. Not wasting any time, the four-piece took us straight back to 2006 with Eddie’s Gun and Sofa Song and it was pure bliss. Gritty rhythmic guitars were the wave of nostalgia that the crowd were looking to hear and they didn’t disappoint.

“Hey Melbourne. Thank you. You beautiful humans!”, frontman Luke Pritchard said. Bad Habit started and you couldn’t mistake the track’s huge proportions and the effect it had on every member of the audience. Pritchard enlisted the crowd to start the echoing opening of the track, playing a ping-pong-esk match of vocals they did pretty well.

“When you’re on the other side of the world, we feel so much love and support”, Pritchard expressed. “We need to build a system to bring Australia closer to the UK”.

As they moved into She Move In Her Own Way, it didn’t hold back as well as Westside that followed. Just when you thought you couldn’t handle any more the guys gave us Do You Wanna from their ‘Konk’ 2008 album.

Taking it down a notch and creating a moment with a single light and Pritchard on the piano was See Me Now. “This is dedicated to anyone who had lost someone”, he explained.

Taking a moment to regroup Pritchard expressed the appreciation towards his fellow band mates’ appearance. More specially Hugh Harris’ clothing choice for the night – “You’ve got some serious trouser game.” Not letting that distract them they transitioned back into You Don’t Love Me.

“We might bring it down a little and do something acoustic. Don’t worry we are going to bring it back up. We will play Naïve at some point,” Pritchard warned. And that they did, getting all the feels with Is It Me? before things started to get even better.

These guys are good, but what cemented this even more was what came next. As the strums of Sway began the crowd showed their appreciation in a roar of cheers. And then got their vocals ready for the amounting enormous chorus. It was a sight to see and hear, that’s for sure and they defiantly gave it their all including the face melting guitar solo from Harris.

“Keep dancing, you’re a star” – a gentleman yelled to the stage. And like that, giving hardly enough time to recover and catch our breaths Around Town and the choir vocals began. The crowd got their dance on with the band and rightly so. This track was made for arena sized spaces and the more modest Festival Hall almost exploded.

See The World followed and when you thought it couldn’t get any better they blew us away with some Brit-pop goodness in the form on Shine On. Needless to say the audience appreciated the opportunity to sing and dance along to the uplifting tune.

The quartet attempted to leave us with Junk Of Your Heart (Happy) which it a nice try but we knew there was a little more work to do before the crowd was completely satisfied. And the audience put in the hard graft to get the band back on stage, erupting into the opening of Ooh La all on their own.

“It’s still overwhelming. I don’t want to be too corny. Songs that we wrote a long time ago, you still listen to them. Let’s have some fun.” Not that they crowd needed any encouragement.

2006 was alive and well in Melbourne when Seaside unfolded. The dreamy track had everyone somewhat calm before Always Where I Need To Be exploded. The racing guitars and determined drums had hearts racing and feet jumping.

It wouldn’t be a Kooks show without a final trip down memory lane with the closing track Naïve. It was a bitter sweet moment because we knew this was it, it was over but for just under four minutes it was pure magic. Then they finished coming together for a bow, the icing on the cake for a spectacular night.

Photos: Liz Stephens