The Kills - Heaven, Charing Cross, London
Heaven in London's Charing Cross is a great venue in many ways, but it can be hard on bands. It wears its heart on its sleeve as primarily a dance club; with over-sized bass capability, bands can have a big hill to climb before they get the sound system working with them. That simply never happened for tonight's openers S.C.U.M. No amount of foppish posturing could lift Thomas Cohen's vocals out of the morass and prevent them sounding at best whiney and at worst a dirge, over some distinctly 80s feeling synth rock. I've seen it happen before to other bands in this particular bear pit, so maybe it wasn't all their fault.
All of which was sad for S.C.U.M. but brilliantly laid before us just how powerful a live proposition The Kills are. From the moment the duo came on stage, the space around them cracked with explosive energy. With apologies for the obvious comparison, as with the White Stripes this is fairly straightforward rock music, evidenced by the sometimes simple lyrics. What matters here are the driving hooks, and more than anything, THAT delivery.
Alison Mosshart sometimes has a reputation as ultra-cool, to the point of non-engagement with audiences. This was simply not the case here. Whether she was climbing the front monitors to lean precariously over the audience, or resting her backside on the stage side bannisters, Alison was never less than there, with us and for us.
There was no doubt that band and crowd were in it together in this small, clammy room. The most exponentially powerful delivery was when Alison and Jamie were both armed with a six string weapon of choice. Eight of the fourteen songs tonight were from the new album, not officially released for a few days yet, so it's testament that the set carried so well with the crowd. A little too well at one point.
The sweaty crowd was hard packed, and a fight broke out up near the front. Like a tough uncle at an eighteenth birthday, Jamie intervened, shouting over the PA "Oi, oi, I don't know what started it, but that is definitely NOT a good look, a guy fighting with a girl". That stopped the fists but the pit remained pretty damn animated all the way through, leaving people to eventually stumble out into the night the only proper way: soaked in sweat.