The Kooks - Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
The Kooks pull no punches when they finally arrive on the Wulfrun Hall stage, having kept the audience waiting in anticipation until half past nine. They immediately launch into Seaside, the brief but gorgeous acoustic ditty that opens their album. And brief is a word that can be used to describe their set, the entire show wrapped up by half ten (including encore). This is understandable considering the band only released their debut album at the start of the year - it also, though, speaks volumes about the band's raison d'etre, this being their search for the short but hook-laiden perfect three (perhaps two) minute pop song.
Frontman Luke Pritchard doesn't dilly dally, only muttering a few words here and there in between songs, choosing instead to provide an energetic and charming focal point for the outfit's set of sing-along tracks. The band only really have two modes: loud and soft. However, the songs that belong to both categories share the same ability to get the sold-out venue singing every word. Naive is obviously the big hit of the night, Pritchard himself commenting that 'this is the one you've all probably come to hear'. The punchy likes of Eddie's Gun and If Only contrast nicely with the more mid-tempo tracks, such as the unapologetically sweet She Moves In Her Own Way, a song made for listening to on a summery afternoon drive with friends. The absolute highlight though is Time Awaits, the most experimental track on the album and hopefully a song that indicates the band have a hidden trick or two stored up their sleeve. This track is a mini-masterpiece, a bluesy intro seguing into a spiky punk-reggae hybrid, performed here with a tight efficiency and vigour that bodes well for the band's future in music. Indeed, the only real disappointments of the evening are the inclusion of a couple of B-sides and the like that aren't really anything to shout about, as well as the occasional mediocre album track, the overly-earnest I Want You Back proving to be particularly grating.
Things are drawn to a close with an encore that includes You Don't Love Me, a song bound to have staying power at indie discos across the land. It's also sure to go down a hit at this summer's Reading and Leeds festival, where I would advise those in attendance to check these Brighton boys out. Anyone with the album isn't in for any surprises, and anyone without it isn't in for many either - The Kooks are taking on a template drawn by everyone from the likes of The Kinks and Supergrass, and employed more recently by bands such as Kaiser Chiefs. However, anyone and everyone is bound to find something to enjoy, as their songs are darn catchy and the band's onstage demeanour likeable. In fact, one might say their brand of indie guitar pop is a refreshingly kooky one...