From the moment frontman Luke Prichard saunters on to the stage, he has the crowd on its feet wiht a simple gesticulation. Joined by lead guitarist Hugh Harris, bassist Peter Denton and newly signed drummer Alexis Nunez, he launches into their energetic indie-pop set. Despite having only half the original line-up from when the band formed in 2006, there’s no signs of misfits in the energy and enthusiasm
As the charismatic lead singer, Prichard can hold his own even when performing a solo spot like ‘Seaside’ – but he doesn’t need an empty stage and a spotlight to shine. Whether stalking along the front of the stage, jamming on a piano or hunched over a guitar, he commands attention.
When Time Out spoke to guitarist Hugh Harris last month, he mentioned a new EP was in the works. While there is no sign of new material at this gig, the band do get into the experimental side of things, with strobe lights and psychedelic twists adding to their pop hit ‘Do You Wanna’. It's a far cry from last year’s stock standard play-every-song-on-the-album performance at Splendour in the Grass.
Perhaps Harris is holding the band to his words, because he'd made a point of saying, “I think playing an album note to note, beat-to-beat is probably what the fans want, but that can get boring.” It can, but this isn’t. Harris and the band are at their best when changing things up a bit.
While ‘Naïve’ and ‘Junk of the Heart’ are crowd pleasers, the highlight is the call and response of ‘Tick of Time,’ using three acoustic guitars and dim lighting with a Mumford and Sons-style country feel. Harris takes a shot at piano and keyboard for ‘How’d You Like That’, followed by Prichard taking his turn on the piano, rocking out and full of energy.
The Kooks revel in being on stage, and make the most of the genteel theatre environment. As Harris believes, “If you’re loving it, then it’s a great show” – and this is.