Kids In Glass Houses - KOKO, Camden
Fresh from almost stealing the show from Lostprophets when they supported them earlier this year, Kids In Glass Houses embarked on their own headline tour to promote their recent album Dirt. Tonight sees that tour arrive at a sold-out KOKO, a venue special to the band as their first proper tour in 2007 as support to Hundred Reasons also played here, and they aren’t going to let that occasion pass without putting on a show and making KOKO their own.
From the opening riff of ‘Artrocker I’ to the closing bars of ‘Sunshine’, the pace of the gig is relentless with hit after hit reeled out effortlessly to a baying crowd. Literally every track tonight is received in the same way that you’d expect a band’s current big hit to be greeted at most gigs with a piercing wall of shrieks threatening to drown out the opening riffs. The energy of the band on stage is more than matched by the mosh pit that eventually engulfs most of the KOKO ground floor from wall to wall. It’s a quite incredible response to a band most people dismiss as just another emo band but any doubters just need to spend ten minutes in the presence of Kids In Glass Houses to be won over because of the presence of one man – Aled Phillips.
In Aled, the band have one of the most exciting front men of recent years who manages to command the stage and the attention of everyone in the venue without even a hint of the arrogance expected of rock band front men. Sure he does the customary poses in front of the drum kits but it’s not done in a ‘look at me’ way but purely for the sense of showmanship that it conveys and, most importantly, for fun. It’s because of this that he gets away with having bras thrown on stage at him – he collects two throughout the evening – and the guys in the crowd don’t think he’s a class A tool but probably end up exclaiming ‘go on son!’
He’s helped by the fact that songs such as ‘Youngblood (Let It Out)’ and ‘Give Me What I Want’ are just destined for the live arena so he can orchestrate sing alongs by just leaning the mic into the crowd. The sheer devotion of the crowd means that not one of these attempts ends in an embarrassing silence that can befall some bands but each one results in a deafening sing along by everyone in the venue, even the people on the top tiers. It’s these moments that help transform the gig into more of a show with a massive side helping of fun; the band aren’t interested in making a statement, they’re just here to entertain. This even extends to the set list with the band slotting in a cover of Gwen Stefani’s ‘Hollaback Girl’ during the final bridge of ‘Fisticuffs’ and if there is one slight complaint about the gig, it’s just that the band didn’t try this again or even just go all out with a full cover.
What’s even more commendable is that even in the pursuit of fun, the band doesn’t let the music suffer and end up sounding as tight and accomplished as a band that’s been playing together for decades. The riffs hit hard in the right places, such as during the opening of ‘Artrocker II’ that wouldn’t have seemed out of place at a metal gig, and the chorus hooks in the more radio-friendly tracks such as ‘For Better Or Hearse’ are suitably bouncy and provoke mass pogo-ing. They aren’t all about the rock though with the band happy to take the back seat for the majority of ‘The Morning Afterlife’ as Aled shows that for all the posturing, he can play it sombre for a surprisingly moving moment of the gig.
At the end of the day though, they are all about catchy rock and in ‘Matters At All’ and ‘Sunshine’, they have two of the strongest set and encore closers that most bands could only wish for. Both tracks have absolutely huge choruses that have the effect of making them sound epic even when they both last for under four minutes. They ensure that even if the crowd is sapped of energy, and a cursory glance around tonight’s crowd would show that even the youngsters are knackered, they can’t help but give one last push as both songs defy standing still.
KOKO might well be a special venue to Kids In Glass Houses but it’s hard to see them coming back here next time they roll into London and surely Brixton, or something even bigger, beckons. Put aside anything you might think you know about them and if you want to be entertained and witness a band on top of their game having fun, then there really is only one ticket you need to buy.
THE BEST IS YET TO COME
GIVE ME WHAT I WANT
YOUNGBLOOD (LET IT OUT)
GOOD BOYS GONE RAD
FOR BETTER OR HEARSE
FISTICUFFS (w/ 'Hollaback Girl' cover)
THE MORNING AFTERLIFE
HUNT THE HAUNTED
MATTERS AT ALL