The Kooks kicked off their ‘Best Of’ tour with two nights at Manchester Academy, both of which were completely sold out. These were gigs that made me feel extremely old. A band having a best of tour with the days of their early work being within my recollection is a strange feeling. Also, this was what seemed like a very young crowd, and considering I was only eight when their debut album Inside in / Inside Out was released.
The Kooks made the most of this being a best of tour and gave long-time fans a reward for sticking with them over the years, playing tracks from each of their studio albums, as well as one song that has never been released before. All of the big hits were played, such as Moves in Her Own Way and Ooh La. This wouldn’t be a Kooks gig without Naïve, with lead singer Luke Pritchard promising near the start of the set that they would get around to playing it eventually. Seaside was clearly a fan favourite and The Kooks knew this, joking before playing the song that they would have to refund all the tickets if they hadn’t included it in their set. Around Town is one of the songs from the more recent era of The Kooks and is a reminder that the band have more songs that you know than you realise. I enjoyed the set more than I was expecting to, with the night being a nostalgic trip for me. Naïve in particular is a throwback to those long car journeys’ we had as a kid, playing the track on repeat. They may have aged, 11 years on from the release of their debut album, but they still know how to work a crowd, with newer songs going down just as well the old hits. Even the new single Be Who You Are, which has a hint of Cage the Elephant to it in parts, was very well received.
Going from nostalgia of the past to looking ahead to the future, support band Clean Cut Kid deserve a special mention. Clean Cut Kid have been my favourite new band of the last 12 months and I have to be honest and say I was more excited to see them than The Kooks. I first came across the four-piece band from Liverpool (which is immediately going to give you a one-up with me, due to my affinity for the city, yes, I’m a Manc who loves Liverpool) when they supported The Courteeners on their arena tour at the back end of 2016. Clean Cut Kid did not disappoint and stole the show for me. Not to take anything away from The Kooks, who performed brilliantly. But Clean Cut Kid blew me away, as excited as I was to see them, my expectations were bettered by their performance.
A big part of their on-stage appeal comes from the chemistry between husband and wife Mike and Evelyn Halls, who both sing with Mike playing Guitar and Evelyn on Keyboard. Bassist Saul Godman puts so much energy and enthusiasm into his performance, constantly interacting with the crowd and singing along with them. Clean Cut Kid have a sound which is extremely unique, one which I hope will take them very far. Lead singer Mike played on the Manchester/Liverpool tension at one point, making sure the crowd could understand his accent. The majority of the songs played have already been released, but Clean Cut Kid also played songs which won’t be released until their debut album comes out at the end of this month. (Look out for a review of that in the coming weeks).
Clean Cut Kid return to Manchester for their own headline show at Sound Control on the 12th May. I can tell now Clean Cut Kid are going to a band that outgrow support slots such as this one and hopefully will go on to fill venues this size and bigger on their own merit.
You can view our full album of images from the night courtesy of Georgina Hurdsfield here.