The Kills - Duke of York's, Brighton
It's just the shy side of midnight as I approach the Duke of York's cinema, and I feel like I'm in a David Lynch movie. This is not Club Silencio though, even if the prospect of such an intimate late-night show fills one with the same intrigue and nagging dread that watching Mulholland Drive inspires. As I take my seat at the rear of the old-school auditorium, folk in the balcony above me possibly unaware that the establishment's roof is falling in on itself - that's how old we're talking - the lights go down and a wave of excitement awash with fear pulses through me. Lights frame the screen before an audience who quickly hush, the magic of cinema about to collide with the primal nature of rock 'n' roll. But wait, isn't there a support band?
The screen flickers to life. For thirty minutes, a series of very loosely-related clips confound some members of the audience who leave prematurely, muttering about how 'pretentious' it all is. I can kind of see their point in retrospect but, caught as I am in my uneasy reverie, the mix of docu-style interviews and performance clips keep me rooted to my seat and gives the more patient sector of the sold-out crowd a brief history of the Kills' musical lineage.
Tonight's main feature, the Kills are Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince, a rejig of the White Stripes' patented boy-girl garage-rock formula. They stand on the modest stage below the screen, which continues to reel off imagery but is now in 'mute' mode, and draw us into the opening credits of their own warped movie, all eyes on them; the voodoo trip-hop of URA Fever's first verse is eerie until Hince 's guitar saws his way through Mosshart's chanted chorus. Although Mosshart requests that the crowd stand, the blurring of the mediums renders the crowd helpless as mere spectators, while the duo move on to the short and sharp blasts of cool that are new tracks Sour Cherry and Alphabet Pony. Mosshart, draping the mic around her throughout, comes off as Shirley Manson interpreting the Pixies on the shouty Tape Song, Hince focusing on his blasts of guitar and the drum machine that provides this drummer-less pair with a beat.
No Wow is a turning point; as Mosshart injects it with a searing intensity, her wish is fulfilled as members of the audience stand and, as if bewitched, move forward to the stage. The build-up of the track is immense, more and more people shaken out of their detached 'viewer' mentality, lending the song an almost tribal power in the dim light of the room it fills. It's at this point, Mosshart controlling the now-standing audience with her irresistible allure, that they kick it with more new tracks, including the catchy Last Day of Magic and the jerky funk of Cheap and Cheerful. Throughout, images on the screen float above them, whether rock icons like Mick Jagger and Patti Smith doing what they do best or Juliette Binoche, in masterful French movie Les Amants du Pont-Neuf, running along Paris' oldest bridge while fireworks explode above her. At this point in the show, however, the images are merely accompanying the music, surely a signifier that the experiment has worked and the band have created a cohesive journey.
The third act of this journey draws to a close with the dreamy Jesus & Mary Chain pop of Goodnight Bad Morning, jumping genres and placing us in a weepy drama that could make men cry. Before the closing credits, they do the dirty on us again by cutting through the brief foray into subtlety and assaulting us with The Good Ones, a trashy but satisfyingly sexy epilogue to their picture show debut. And, whether their tour of cinemas was pretentious or not, let me be first in line to request a sequel.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 00:05:20